posted on Feb, 24 2017 @ 07:03 PM
What is life? Contemporary theorists agree that it is a) a self-organizing system, which means effects feedback on their causes to produce structure
b) this process occurs through a self-referential and other-referential tripartite structure in the cell. For example, all membranes are studded with
glycoproteins that respond preferentially to chemicals that are needed to regenerate the endogenous molecules that make up the cell. Thus, the
membrane proteins are "other" references, which are metabolically (connected through reactions sequences) tied to the DNA within the nucleus - the
It makes no sense to call DNA the "self'" since it needs the membrane proteins to reconstruct its dynamics. Furthermore, the cell is constantly far
from equilibrium, rendering the celebrated idea of DNA "fixity" quixotic, especially since hundreds upon hundreds of "stress tests" conducted on
micro and macroscopic organisms have proven beyond all doubt that environmental stress forces an increase in the mutation rates of regulatory genes,
and even, in many cases, protein coding genes.
In any case, the above situation describes a Eukaryotic cell, which evolved on Earth around 2 billion years ago. Bacterial life, on the other
hand, is close to 4 billion years old, and is organized is differently (less complexly) than the Eukaryote, with no nucleus/cytoplasm distinction,
with DNA and proteins floating freely within the bacterial inside, and the bacterial cell thousands of times smaller than the Eukaryotic cell.
It is this difference in complexity between the large Eukaryote and the smaller prokaryote (bacteria), that makes life plausible not just on other
planets - but on planets in our solar system, such as Mars, and moons like Titan and Europa. These sorts of living structures would be tiny - but
would be comparable to the "extremophiles" that live in deep sea volcanic vents, living off the sulphur ejected from the vents. Such methanogens
live in low-oxygen conditions, and may be able to thrive where there is water - such as in mars craters or similar situations on Titan.
Ultimately, life is a "far-from equilibrium" self-contained dynamic that develops a self-reference and other-reference system of 'signs' to
maintain its particular activity.
It is microscopic most of the time, but on some planets, the microscopic dynamics come together into slimes, then into more elaborate conglomerates,
until a veritable structure is formed (vertebrate) around which subsequent extending and complexifying of energy entrapment can occur.
This thread is a response to the thread on "were the center of the universe". A common, or normal response to reading that would be: "were the
center of everything", or, "its just as the bible said". Such "memes", if I may that term, pop into our minds because of the cultural
(psychoemotional) heritage we've inherited.
I was thus compelled to remind myself - and others - that we live in a universe where life seems to be a pretty normal process made possible by
certain advantageous local conditions. It could be a planet like Mars, or a moon like Titan, or an asteroid with liquid water within its interior
around which life can teem; or, it can find expression in a very unusual way as a function of the coming together of conditions that protects the
planet in such a way as to permit a 'scaffolding evolution' - and also to 'cull' the Earth at particular times - such as the dinosaur extinction
65 million years ago - so that the mammal - with its myelinated nervous system and unknown potentials for elaboration - could evolve further.
Human life - what we are, is clearly rare. It's about the a) size of our planet, b) the size of the sun, c) the relationship between the Earth to the
Sun (distance) d) the influence of the moon on Earth dynamics e) the influence of Jupiter in protecting the Earth from asteroid bombardments.
It's hard to measure something (habitable planets) we don't know the true size of (the universe). Yet, its plausible - that life may be able to
proceed in many ways, in many forms, despite the way that affects our self-image as Humans. Yet, one can well wonder with others, whether the types of
life produced and the processes life assumes might be very similar. That is, single cellular life will precede multicellular life. The transition may
entail some slime mold as the mold has a functional value for each individual, until the individual existence becomes too cumbersome, and the slime
mode supports a better existence.
In other words: the universe is logical: it can be understood with reason. To be a Human entails the history of our organism, from the first
cells on earth, to slime mold, to eukaryote, to some fish creature, to some amphibian creature, to a reptile, to a reptile-mammal transition creature,
to a rat-like creature, to a creature that colonized trees (a lemur like creature) to a primate, to an ape, to a hominid, to a Human being.
This is an arbitrary road, but a road which provided and opened up future possibilities that were, for example, closed off to the crocodilians - which
have remained the same for 200 million years. The crocodile has stayed the same, whereas the animalian line that went from reptile to Human has been
undergoing remarkable transformation.
One may well wonder: is a Human being something the universe produces? Perhaps, anywhere where the conditions exist? And how much further would such
an evolution produce?