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#30689 - 05/17/09 06:43 AM Search for life outside earth
Kevat Shah Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 37
Loc: Grenada
Since many of the heavy metals are superconductors at extremely low temperatures and life is based on movement of electric charges, currents, is it possible to have life based on these superconductor atoms at a really low temperature?
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#31526 - 08/10/09 07:49 AM Re: Search for life outside earth [Re: Kevat Shah]
leehyori87
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thank u so much for sharing
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#34453 - 05/21/10 10:32 AM Re: Search for life outside earth [Re: Kevat Shah]
julie20099
Unregistered


The truth is that scientists rarely agree on anything other than very broad assumptions, and often not even on those. Instead, scientists, even those working together on the same project, can heatedly disagree with one another's assumptions or interpretations, making it difficult to agree on the best way data should be released to the public.

An example from the MGS laser altimeter team (specifically the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter or MOLA). This instrument shoots blasts of laser light from the orbiting spacecraft to the surface of Mars, and times their return to the sensor. By doing so, an incredibly accurate topographical relief map of Mars can be created. However, Mars has no absolute altitude marker like Earth (sea-level). Therefore, the scientists have to agree on an altitude reference against which all other measurements are compared. The specific reference chosen is critical because it will be used in all subsequent analyses of MOLA data. Any error could potentially be a spoiler for generations of future reserachers. Bergreen was there when they discussed whether they were ready to commit to an altitude reference and start releasing data (many team members argued "yes!") or whether more data and study were needed before the team published such critical information (other team members said "wait!").

Also typical was the conflict in choosing a landing site for the Mars Polar Lander. Scientists pour over the data from MGS and pick a site that is geologically interesting. Engineers pour over the MGS data and pick a site that is safe. The two goals are often at direct odds with one another. The engineers want stastical rock-counts so that they can ensure their craft won't topple over a boulder. Scientists argue that the sites chosen by the engineers will nullify all the science objectives of the mission. Such discussions can quickly become personal as emotions boil over and passionate beliefs give way to shouting contests.
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Edited by Amaranth Rose II (05/22/10 01:53 AM)
Edit Reason: Spam

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#34459 - 05/22/10 01:56 AM Re: Search for life outside earth [Re: ]
Amaranth Rose II Offline

Superstar

Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 962
Loc: Southeast Nebraska, USA
The word you want is "pore", not pour. Pore means to look closely, pour means to cause a liquid to flow as in out of a pitcher or glass.
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If you don't care for reality, just wait a while; another will be along shortly. --A Rose


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#34497 - 05/25/10 02:02 AM Re: Search for life outside earth [Re: Amaranth Rose II]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
KS
I don't have a clue, but I find it easy to imagine that somewhere in those vast and cold nebulae there might exist a self-replicating molecule or a non-replicating, eons old, conscious entity, something like Fred Hoyle's Black Cloud. Maybe superconductors could serve a purpose there. I think I'll just pop back in 10,000 yrs time to see what's been discovered.
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#34518 - 05/25/10 06:58 PM Re: Search for life outside earth [Re: Kevat Shah]
ImagingGeek Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/19/10
Posts: 410
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Kevat Shah
Since many of the heavy metals are superconductors at extremely low temperatures and life is based on movement of electric charges, currents, is it possible to have life based on these superconductor atoms at a really low temperature?


Doubtful, for one basic reason. The temps at which natural superconductors function is extremely low - usually a few degrees above absolute zero. At these temps most chemical reactions will not occur. Since the formation of life requires the building of metabolic networks, which are nothing more then sequences of chemical reactions, its hard to conceive of a living system that could undergo any form of metabolism (and thus self-organization) at such low temps.

This may seem trivial, but keep in mind that in your hypothesis you do need at a minimum a source of free electrons - where are those going to come from aside from some sort of chemical or photochemical system? Likewise, you are going to need energy to organize the superconducting "tracks"; they won't self-organize without at least a modicum of external energy to mediate the re-organization of the system. Finally, for a biological system to do work (in the physical sense) you need to consume energy - superconductors are great at transporting electrons without expending their energy, but by their very definition do not consume that energy. Ergo, to get movement or biochemical reactions out of those superconducted electrons, you're going to need some non-superconucting chemistry. Its doubtful anything would work at the kinds of temps you're talking about.

But cold (although not superconducting cold) temps are an interesting idea to ponder. At extreme cold many chemicals behave in ways quite different from what we normally see - water, for example, can form numerous unique "ices" that are chemically very different from the ice we normally see. Water is far from unique in this case. Who knows what kind of biochemical bounty may exist at these cold temps? Life of this sort would be slow - chemical reactions proceed painfully slowly at these temps - but it could take on forms beyond our wildest imagination.

Bryan
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