Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Idea for a science fiction book

Humans finally discover intelligent alien life, which makes us reconsider all our scientific theories again. for instance, comet Hartley:

This comet was originally thought to be this shape due to random collisions and other natural forces. The two ends show a lot of evidence  of minor impacts causing craters of various sizes. The middle part shows no signs of such weathering - appears smooth, has an oval or circular cross-section and shows no outgassing activity. Scientists originally concluded that the middle section only looks smooth because of dust re-depositing onto the centre of gravity of the comet. The jets appear random, though measurements from Earth indicate that the jets affect the rate of rotation of Hartley. To me it would be a better science fiction story if the two sides are moving apart and the centrifugal forces of the rotation are causing the middle to stretch, and the jets are controlling the rate of rotation.

Speaking of Jets, Scientists are quite sure the jets are due to sub-surface sublimation of volatiles (water, HCN etc.) forcing out dust particles at the same time. Surfaces appear quite stable, and the jets are in static positions on the comet nucleus.

The following link for comet temple 1 demonstrates how jets on the same location of the comet sporadically ejects a sudden large amount of mass, at the same point of its 44 hour rotation period - ie. in the same direction in space. Scientists believe this is due to the uneven solar related heating related to the rotation somehow causing the random outburst. It would be a better science fiction story if these jets were an orbit correction maneuvre.

Comets are notoriously hard to predict in the long term due to their Non-gravitational accelerations. Adjusting for the parameters helps a little bit, but it would be a much better science fiction story if the comet was actively controlling the accelerator, to go from gravity assist to gravity assist to make sure it didn't hit a planet in the future, or to control how it is going to hit a planet in the future to better colonise it. Perhaps, rather than hitting one spot on the planet, multiply into several pieces landing on different times of the planet's day to get a good spread over all longitudes, like Comet Shoemaker Levy 9.

Scientific theory holds that many comets are loosely connected pieces given the long List of comet pairs and other splitting events that have been shown to occur.

It would be a much better science fiction story if these events were like amoebal fission - ie. that comets were reproducing. They may have been around for many millions of years, accreting mass through collisions. Now they have enough energy and mass that they can reproduce and go their separate ways - perhaps one might one day leave the solar system and explore other systems.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Now addicted to ResearchGate


Have found easy to access scientific discussion in a forum which reminds me completely of Facebook. It is infinitely easier to access actual research rather than just what is freely available on the net (although admittedly some researchers restrict some of their stuff)

{Non sequitur}
I am still convinced we will discover intelligent alien life within our lifetime (say before 2050) and they will be (or in) comets and not life as we know it (obviously). This is an exciting prospect for me, as I thought until early this year that it was a distant untouchable possibility - an impossible dream fit only for science fiction and fantasy novels. I look forward to it, and I am assuming nobody will believe it until it stares them in the face (or into the robotic spacecraft's sensor). For that reason it will take a while. I don't feel I need to do anything about it, and just let "science" take its course. Comets have, at any rate, been found to be more interesting than suspected, and they take less rocket energy to liaise with, so will continue to be visited as a group more often than any particular planet or moon. Anyhow - you heard it here first.

{/Non sequitur}

Friday, February 10, 2012

Conservation of information

This Entropy/Thermodynamics/Information Wikipedia article is as close as one can get to what the standard scientific treatise of the link between energy, information and entropy.

From the information is physical -> Szilards Engine.

The global entropy is not decreased, but information to energy conversion is possible..

This appears to put information on an equal footing as mass or energy, in the sense that it is conserved in general, but can be also transformed between energy and mass. It is tempting to follow the lead of the ID ers to intimate that informational entropy can either stay the same and increase but not decrease - My view is different, in that I believe that information can be generated through the use of energy in naturally occuring metabolic systems. .

My first postulate is that information can increase (be created) within a boundary if the entropy is increased outside the boundary..

My second postulate is that some of the energy within the boundary must necessarily increase the information if entropy is increased outside the boundary. This would mean that stars like the sun, that send a lot of waste heat outside of itself, are becoming more ordered on the inside, in proportion..

Thus random processes could not increase information, but metabolic processes can, by separating where the information is stored and expelling its increasing entropy to where it isn't..

To destroy information, the directionality of increased entropy must be directed back to within the boundary (making the rest of the universe slightly more ordered).

Neither the generation, nor the destruction of information is a perfect process, and there will be some leakage of energy to information..

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Chemical factory model of "physical cemistry" life

I must admit that when I say I *really* liked These metabolism posts, it doesn't mean I agreed with all the things that I thought were completely non-sequiters. These posts rightly say that without an explanation of how metabolism is being performed, talking about how complex chemicals can be reproduced is an excercise in formula manipulation and wishful thinking chemistry. The most crucial part of these posts is the energy graph and pictures showing the inside and outside, and tight logic that pretty much states, that if this cannot happen, life will not happen. Also the bit which states that we should start with what we think physical chemistry life would look like, and see how it could progress, is fair enough. However, I also think that metabolism without reproduction is just as useless. The metabolic process has to reproduce itself, or at least be produced with a process that continues virtually forever through time, such that there will always be appropriate metabolic systems. The system must somehow also build information, whatever that means. In my "chemical factory" model of life, the thing which is reproducing (a molecule of some kind) is not the of the same scale as that which is providing the metabolism (chemical factory). Just imagine a factory which is producing widgets of random size and shape, not knowing if they will ever be used in anything. Energy is going in, and the rest of the Universe is being made random, and certain widgets are being produced depending on the type of energy being applied, seed molecules available, and what molecules are escaping into the rest of the Universe. Certain factories are making one type of molecule preferentially, while others are making others preferentially. Every now and then a molecule or group will be thrust from one to another factory, altering the seed stock and affecting which chemicals are more predominant. These "factories" could be any size - Molecular cloud sized, planet sized, asteroid sized, football field sized, golf ball sized, ball bearing sized - you get the drift. It doesn't really matter. What matters is the previous mentioned requirements for them to demonstrate metabolism as described in the metabolism posts. Energy in, waste out, outside more random, inside less random. It is not hard to see, that at some scale, in some conditions, it would be life generating metabolism.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Where did that prebiotic life go... I know I left it here somewhere

Charles Darwin addressed the question, suggesting that the original spark of life may have begun in a "warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, so that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes". He went on to explain that "at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed."
thus the idea that prebiotic chemistry would just be absorbed into biotic chemistry when evolution had reached that level, was born. I must admit that it appears self evident. However, I can imagine progressions of events that would indicate completely the opposite- ie, that in the environment that life evolved/developed, not only would biota not destroy per-biota, but would rely on its function to such an extent that it could not. Just as we could not survive if we destroyed every bit of bacteria on our body.
Oparin proposed that the "spontaneous generation of life" that had been attacked by Louis Pasteur did in fact occur once, but was now impossible because the conditions found on the early Earth had changed, and preexisting organisms would immediately consume any spontaneously generated organism.
Again, the assumption comes in that spontaneously generated organisms could not survive alongside existing organisms. The point is, since we cannot know whether this is the case or not, because we don't have the slightest idea where or when it happened, nor the exact chemical composition when it happened, we could certainly not prove it, nor even give it a probability. Perhaps parsimony which dictates that we assume life started on Earth would follow with the conclusion that, since there is not even a scrap of evidence for prebiotic evolution here, that biota had an evidence destroying capacity in that regards, much as some species can disappear without a trace. However, if one accepts biogenesis happening elsewhere, we would have to assume that we could find evidence for it at that location, even if there is also biota at that location.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

I have lost faith in scientists

Having read the book "God's Undertaker", and the book "Amino Acids and the assymetry of life", I have come to the conclusion that a huge chunk of science is "eating fruit from the poisonous tree" in the sense that working assumptions are being used routinely that have a heap of experimental evidence going against them (as opposed to the legal metaphor where evidence is gathered illegaly). Alternatively, they place false doubts on experimental evidence because the simple mathematical models they put on them don't match with those experimental results.

For instance, one would be confused for thinking that the thousands of experiments done on the origin of life on Earth have demonstrated the plausibility of life originating on Earth. Nothing of the sort has happened. ALL the experiments start with the assumption that life started here, and they concentrate on one particular tiny aspect that has to happen a particular way for life to have started here, and the proof that it happened comes DIRECTLY from the assumption - ie. we are here so it must have happened.

With chirality, almost all carbonaceous meteorites have demonstrated chirality with their organic molecules. This has been used to prove that similar Earthly chiral molecules have non-life origin, rather than the quite different *Similar Earthly chiral molecules are as much linked to life as those from Carbonaceous Chondrite Asteroids*. There is no evidence for or against living matter having been in asteroids other than this chirality evidence, which wouldn't rule it out, but retain the possibility. Racemic organics would have ruled it out.

The explanation of how the meteoric  (and Earthly petroleum) organics had become chiral is based on mathematical models of carbon molecules under high pressure. It is not based on experimental evidence. It is a classic case of believing the simplified model over testing out a typical experimental observation to back up a possible working model.

A similar thing with the model of how Comet organics became chiral.