XenoBiology


Back in 1997 I took my first organic chemistry class, and in it we discussed the origins of organic compounds in a primordial soup. Ever since then I’ve had interest in the origins of life, “genetics”, knowledge transmission and of course Xenobiology. I had considered going to a school in Florida that offered a xenobiology program, I didn’t yet that too has always been a decision that I feel could have changed many thing on my view of self. Realistically the field is an odd entity to exist inside the sciences, and perhaps would be better suited to a liberal sciences department that also studies the paranormal, Numerology, and meta-consciousness.

On 4 November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like starsand red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy.[11][12]

–Wikipedia

It is a fun exercise to revisit once in a while. Astronomers say that 1 in 10 stars has a Goldilocks planet. And if you assume that “Life as we know it” is based on a phospholipid bi-layer enclosing self reproducing reagents then you take into consideration the number of rain drops from a single rain-cloud releasing it’s burden over a puddle that has had oils build up on it’s surface ( or ocean spray or waterfall droplets…etc) then the chances that a Goldilocks planet has long chain hydrocarbons and doesn’t have micelles is infinitesimal! So what about sugars? Well scientists have found sugars in nebular clouds and on asteroids. And we know that planets are accretions of these interstellar. Bodies so it stands to reason structurethat there are sugars on these planets (DNA is sugars with a phosphate backbone). Things like sodium, phosphorus, nitrogen and oxygen  can be found right next to the sugars store mentioned in deep space so they would accumulate along with everything else trapped in that Goldilocks’ Hilbert sphere. And just on the law of diffusion (entropy) our sugars oils and other gasses & minerals would   come into contact with one another. So the setting is right.

But what is it that really makes “LIFE” ? Most people would say the ability to reproduce and or pass along information.    O.k…? What does that mean? “knowledge” at it’s most mathematical level is most easily described as reverse entropy or perhaps more discreetly as the coefficients of reverse entropy (snap shots in space time of pockets of order) and unlike “nonliving” things these pockets of order don’t spontaneously disperse, they grow in magnitude and become more ordered patterns of ordered things ( think a mass of cells).  What then is learning? Well we say that plant cells learned to use chlorophyll, but what we really believe is that proto-img15plant cells ingested chloroplasts (and perhaps other cellular components) and found it more beneficial to not eat then but to nurse from them and “farm” them { if you will }. So in thus case “Learning” was a matter of perhaps a detrimental issue (a lack of digestive system) that lead to the happy accident that resulted in invagination And propagation of chloroplasts ( which were no doubt a competitor at that time of what we would come to call the proto-plant cell.
So learning at it’s most basic is still a matter of perspective. Inside the chloroplast the pancake like structures have “evolved” to be wonderful sugar makers and light absorbers. They didn’t start that way but over time the chloroplasts that produced the right protei53076-004-61A5272Ans to make that structure get to live longer (presumeably because the cell nursing on it could last longer between meals due to the ready supply of sugars) and those who were slightly less strong would end up running out of energy and become dinner.  This is evolution! Is it also “Learning”?

Certainly we are reducing degrees of freedom in this space and conferring those reduced dimensions to our progeny so yes we have the most basic form of knowledge transfer structural (and possibly related to that genetic). Then as we scale our systems up we see that at a certain point “Learning” takes on new meanings. It is the scale of the dimensionallity here that now becomes meaningful and treacherous at the same time. Is it learning for cells to come together for protection “flocking” into biofilms for example. The film is more than the sum of it’s parts, and yet it’s parts may be very basic. Do we call it learning when one organism stats producing adhesives  to attach to other cells? Or is this just a byproduct of wanting to be more stationary with the added benefit that your neighbor is a filter feeder which circulates food past your mouth for you? (“Lazy 0r Lucky Learning”?)

These types of scale & scale boundary  questions it seems have become pervasive  across a wide variety of disciplines.  perhaps most widely discussed is the quantum classical barrier ,but we find them in places where there are discontinuities between one way of  understanding and the next. Even when it comes to classification of extrasolar xenomorphic societies we have discontinuities, but in this case it can help us understand that we as humans need to categorize things to make them comprehensive.  Thus we come round circle to semantics and belief.

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About Larry Louisiana

I'm a Microsoft Partner Consultant.
This entry was posted in Leisure, News and politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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