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Thread: Shuttle Road Kill

  1. #1 Shuttle Road Kill 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Just to give you an example of how a mind can be influenced (i'll use my mind so I don't offend anybody), I was watching the Space Channel the other day and they had this show about strange phenomena. One of the stories had some guy who's been up in space twice on the shuttle I believe, don't remember his name but he said on two trips he managed to observe the spacecraft being followed by what he called a rubberlike snake(6 feet long no less).

    It got me to thinking whether it is possible for a lifeform(s) to have evolved to the point where they inhabit the upper regions of the atmosphere. I know most of the Earth's breathable atmoshere is probably below the summit level of Mount Everest but there exists many a strange critter in regions of the Earth that many wouldn't expect.

    Take the blue whale, the largest creature to have ever lived on Earth, it spends most of its life below the gaseous atmosphere. Lichens grow below the ice in Antarctica. Micro-organisms exist deep below the Earth's surface...anyway whether those are poor examples of what I'm trying to put forward isn't important.

    Its been said that life arrived here on the backs of comets and meteorites that have crashed into the Earth. If life can withstand years of travel through space then why isn't it possible for life to exist in the upper regions of the atmosphere. Maybe it did and they hitched a ride on the incoming space boulders. *Afterthought: Could life have evolved in the atmosphere first?

    Whenever mankind discovers unexpected life there is usually much excitement in the scientific community. The main thing is that we usually investigate the hows and whys and then we marvel at the adaptability of life. So the question is....do you think it possible for life to have evolved to the point where it can exist in the shuttle traffic lane or in outer space itself, free of an atmosphere??


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I suspect that life may have evolved in space originally, within the GMCs (Giant Molecular Clouds) from which stars form, just as our sun did. Once a GMc is host to one or more new stars the temperature within rises to a comfortable level, from near absolute zero. Liquid water can and does exist in these warm clouds, along with a plethora of organic molecules. In addition there are a host of dust grains for molecules to adhere to and to act as catalysts for the prebiotic chemistry that might eventually lead to the emergence of life.

    The shear scale of these clouds and the diversity of conditions within them offers a greater statistical chance for the emergence of life than the paltry environment of the primitve Earth.

    That said, I don't believe near Earth orbit would be a congenial place for such life forms, and certainly not one the size of a rubber snake.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I suspect that life may have evolved in space originally, within the GMCs (Giant Molecular Clouds) from which stars form, just as our sun did. Once a GMc is host to one or more new stars the temperature within rises to a comfortable level, from near absolute zero. Liquid water can and does exist in these warm clouds, along with a plethora of organic molecules. In addition there are a host of dust grains for molecules to adhere to and to act as catalysts for the prebiotic chemistry that might eventually lead to the emergence of life.

    The shear scale of these clouds and the diversity of conditions within them offers a greater statistical chance for the emergence of life than the paltry environment of the primitve Earth.

    That said, I don't believe near Earth orbit would be a congenial place for such life forms, and certainly not one the size of a rubber snake.
    I've always thought that everything that is, including life, may have popped out of that primordial cloud after the BB. I found the way you described it as the one of the most interesting reads I ever had. Thanks (not looking for brownie points).

    I think that life does need a certain temperature to materialize but to be able to hibernate in the depths of cold space on the backs of primordial chunks of rock and ice for who knows how long would require some evolution, no? Isn't the deep sleep a little too specialized? Or are you talking life as a non-entity forcelike thing?
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    I've always thought that everything that is, including life, may have popped out of that primordial cloud after the BB.
    We need a little more time for life to develop than that. I subscribe to the view that all life is probably carbon based, using water as a solvent. The properties of these two is just so superior to any other combination we can envisage. [Because I recognise the limits of our imagination I have inserted that probably in the earlier sentence.]

    The early Universe, once it had cooled enough to allow elements to condense, was composed almost entirely of hydrogen, minor helium and a smattering of beryllium. [There may have been some lithium as well. I can never recall correctly.] There was no carbon, oxygen or nitrogen, the backbone, as it were, of all life we know, including, if you'll excuse the pun, the invertebrates.

    The heavier elements are formed within stars after they have passed their hydrogen 'burning' stage. This can take us up to iron in the periodic table. The elements beyond that are formed in the cataclysms of supernovae.

    So, we had to be on the second or third generation of stars before there were enough 'metals' [astronomers call anything beyond helium a metal] to form terrestrial planets and provide the raw materials for life. (It may even be that gas giants did not form at this time, as each gas giant is believe to have a terrestrial type 'planet' at its core.)
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    I found the way you described it as the one of the most interesting reads I ever had. Thanks
    Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    I think that life does need a certain temperature to materialize but to be able to hibernate in the depths of cold space on the backs of primordial chunks of rock and ice for who knows how long would require some evolution, no? Isn't the deep sleep a little too specialized?
    Absolutely correct. It would require some evolution. Consider this, there are several kinds of bacteria that can sustain extremely high levels of radiation - higher than would be experienced even on a primitive Earth with a thin atmosphere and second rate magnetic field. Nature is not known for putting effort into making something that has no useful function. If, however, the ancestors of these littel blighters came from space they would have experienced selection pressure to evolve such radiation tolerance.

    Consider also that microbes inadvertently left on one of the Surveyor robotic craft and subsequently returned to Earth by Apollo astronauts were still viable after three years exposed to the vacuum of space and a temperature range of several hundred degrees. Life can be tenacious.

    Given that the dynamics of a GMC are complex it is likely that any life evolved there would be swept in and out of benign environments into hostile ones quite regularily. Organisms having features that helped them survive this would (survive), the others would perish. Over time we would build up a family of organisms with all the attributes to survive prolonged exposure to the hostile environment of interstellar space, including the ability to hibernate. - It isn't interstellar space, but microbes trapped in bubbles of water inside 200 million year old salt have been revived.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Given that the dynamics of a GMC are complex it is likely that any life evolved there would be swept in and out of benign environments into hostile ones quite regularily. Organisms having features that helped them survive this would (survive), the others would perish. Over time we would build up a family of organisms with all the attributes to survive prolonged exposure to the hostile environment of interstellar space, including the ability to hibernate. - It isn't interstellar space, but microbes trapped in bubbles of water inside 200 million year old salt have been revived.
    Funny how by watching some dorky space phenomena show that included snakes in outer space (and with your input), has reshaped the way I will look at evolution until the day I croak. I was probably like the many who have always believed life evolved on Earth. There's always one more thought, one more idea, one more way. Its an ncredible rush to have the mind opened up just a little bit.

    Is there a branch of science that is seriously looking at the situation you described, the evolution of life in space?? Do they have a name?

    As much as space snakes seems preposterous and bordering on unbelievable I'm not ready to put it to bed. I mean is anything out of the realm of possibility? And that's coming from a skeptic. Hard to believe some guy floating around in space sees a snake and we on Earth can't get a look at a giant squid. Maybe the next shuttle should drag a big net behind it on their next trip and see if anything drops in.

    I wonder if that guy was a heavy drinker going through withdrawal?
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    do you think the "snake" could have been a result of the space shuttle itself? such as the exhaust?
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