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View Diary: What An Atheist Reveres (61 comments)

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  •  Sentience rare? (5+ / 0-)
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    WarrenS, Munchkn, GreenPA, rb608, Troubadour

    We have dolphins self-aware enough to seek out a diver for assistance with a hook and line caught in it's fin. We have evidence of other species of humans (now extinct) that were self-aware enough to have burial rituals for the deceased. We're only beginning to realize just how common planets are in other solar systems, including those in the "Goldilocks zone".

    The only thing rare about sentience is our understanding of it.

    •  orrg1 is probably referring to the recent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandoras Box, SilentBrook, Troubadour

      discoveries of exoplanets. It is growing more and more likely that planets that are compatible with complex life needed for sentience are a good deal rarer than we supposed before there were data to work with. The discovery of hot Jupiters and the chaotic planetary systems took everyone by surprise, and lowers the number of Earth-like planets in the galaxy - by how much, we are still uncovering.



      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 06:49:53 AM PST

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      •  There are still a number of Earth-like planets... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        UnaSpenser, rb608, Troubadour

        ...discovered. In fact, some are statistically more habitable than earth, at least in their projected ability to maintain vegetation. (Though the discovered candidates so far are somewhat larger than earth with more gravity: you wouldn't want to walk around on one).

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:04:25 AM PST

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        •  given that we don't come close to knowing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          the vastness that is the universe, nor can we even estimate how many planets are out there, nor can we likely imagine what all the possibilities are for the expressions of life,

          I am always amazed that people think it is logical to reach the conclusion that we some kind of rare, miraculous thing in existence.

          I love life, but I can't, based on a lack of evidence, which we are so unlikely to ever have a grasp on, claim that our life form is miraculous. Fascinating, yes. Miraculous? No.

          •  There are very strong chemical reasons to think (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            that any life form anywhere will use liquid water. If you are interested in the biochemistry I can expand on that, but it is a very strong, if not quite universal, consensus among scientists interested in exobiology.



            Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

            by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:35:44 AM PST

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            •  yes, I know. but, this is based on our limited (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour

              perspective of the universe.

              We believe that all that we know somehow defines the limits of what can be.

              I find that kind of thinking very problematic. It doesn't allow us to break out of a human/earth-centric perspective.

              I'm not saying that I don't value life. I do.

              I'm not saying that I don't get why we see our form of life as special in the context of what we know.

              Miraculous, though? I don't get that.

              And, we must always hold onto the perspective that we will likely never know enough to have a full sense of what is "rare" or "miraculous".

        •  I am not aware of any that are more habitable, and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          I use and follow the exoplanet app that continuously updates its database (>850 so far). Do you have a cite for that?

          In any case no one anticipated the chaotic planetary systems that lead to hot jupiters so often - it is clear that many stellar systems will not contain any kind of life, and that is the opposite of what was assumed as little as twenty years ago.

          I have been a biologist since the early seventies - it was an enormous surprise to discover how cockamamie many planetary systems are.



          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:34:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            Got the info here. For example, Gilese 667c has a higher vegetation suitability index than Earth (0.98 to Earth's 0.72).

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 10:20:19 AM PST

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            •  That link doesn't include a "vegetation (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour

              suitability index" - maybe you meant the "Standard Primary Habitability " index in that link? That is just a surface temperature measure (and humidity if known which it can't be for now).

              Gliese 667c is a star, the third member of a triple star system. Since it is "a red dwarf with a stellar classification of M1.5...radiating only 1.4% of the Sun's luminosity from its outer atmosphere at a relatively cool effective temperature of 3,700 K." the so-called "habitable zone" is probably inside the tidally locked zone. You probably are thinking of " Gliese 667 Cc, the second planet out that orbits along the middle of the habitable zone" but for red dwarfs most planets in the habitable zone are tidally locked.



              Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

              by Wee Mama on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 11:03:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Gravity on most super-Earths, as far as I've seen (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama

          wouldn't be that much higher than on Earth.  Having twice the mass of Earth doesn't mean twice the gravity.  Density as a product of composition determines surface gravity.  If it's mostly silicate with a smaller iron core, the gravity won't go up at much of a rate with greater mass.

          Pour yourself into the future.

          by Troubadour on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 11:00:11 AM PST

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