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We may well be alone in the Universe

Dave

Distinguished Member
geneticists have used the principles of Moore's Law and applied it to the evolution of life. Extrapolating backwards indicates life is older than the Earth. If true it means it's taken us 10 billion years to evolve human intelligence and we could well be the first or amongst the first beings to start making faltering steps into space.

Moore's Law and the Origin of Life | MIT Technology Review

It's an interesting theory but not really relevant to evolution imho.

Rates of evolution are no where near as exact as Moore's law due to the fact that the rate can change massively dependant on mutation, environment, predation etc.

Add that to the fact that there are planets in the Universe that are much older than Earth and it makes the notion that we are the only life in the universe incredibly unlikely.

While it's a somewhat novel and thought provoking principle, it has no basis in scientific fact and therefore I have to simply dismiss it as just that, thought provoking and novel.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
geneticists have used the principles of Moore's Law and applied it to the evolution of life. Extrapolating backwards indicates life is older than the Earth. If true it means it's taken us 10 billion years to evolve human intelligence and we could well be the first or amongst the first beings to start making faltering steps into space.

Moore's Law and the Origin of Life | MIT Technology Review

Taken literally it suggests life originated 5 billion years before the earth did, therefore life on earth must be extraterrestrial in origin so we probably aren't alone :)
 

Kieron

Distinguished Member
If higher forms of species read "General Chat" here at AVF I doubt we will ever be contacted/find out... ;)
 

Siamese Cat

Active Member
One aspect of evolution is punctuated equilibrium; we know that there are long periods where life forms are stable and other periods of fast and radical change.

A particularly interesting period was about 540 million years ago when, over a period of about 20 million years, there was the most enormous and rapid burst of evolution. This is known as the Cambrian explosion and virtually every single phyla that we know today appeared. Some of the theories for this explosion include the evolution of predators and/or the evolution of sight generating an amazing period of rapid change. There are other periods in our planets history of very little change. THere is a period (possibly several periods) where the Earth was nearly frozen - Snowball Earth - where for possibly 200 million years life just about clung on and certainly evolved very little. This does rather indicate that evolution works in a different way to changes in transistors. Moore's law might well not apply.
 

captainarchive

Distinguished Member
Also what about mass extinction events? Hasn't virtually all life on Earth been wiped out on more than one occasion in our planet's history. Wouldn't that slow the rate of development by resetting the clock back to zero as it were.
 

imightbewrong

Distinguished Member
Also what about mass extinction events? Hasn't virtually all life on Earth been wiped out on more than one occasion in our planet's history. Wouldn't that slow the rate of development by resetting the clock back to zero as it were.

Well it may mean the opposite - killing of the large, dominant, evolutionary lazy species, allowing room for development for the other species that are less impacted.
 

Siamese Cat

Active Member
Dead right!
There have been at least 5 major extinction events including the largest of all 250m years ago - at the end of the Permian. Dinosaurs appeared soon after this. Another 65m years ago killed the dinosaurs but created room and an enormous increase in the diversity of mammals. I imagine that in the 5 million years following the Chicxulub asteroid there was more change in the flora and fauna of this planet than in the preceding 50m years.

Not relevant to this thread but interesting, one of the biggest extinction events is happening right now. Cause? Us. (Mankind rather than AV enthusiasts in particular)
 
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imightbewrong

Distinguished Member
Thanks - looking at this graph for instance

massextinctionevents.jpg


it's not really clear that humans are having a significant impact - in fact we have more species now than ever :-S
 
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DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
I agree with all the other sceptical posts here, and would add another, which to my mind is fundamental:

The whole premise is based on the idea of increasing complexity, as though evolution invariably drives complexity (it doesn't), or mammals are more complex than insects (they're not). In fact, although there are too many factors to make it easy to discern, natural selection will generally prefer simplicity.

How do you define complexity in this context, anyway? Number of gene loci? Humans: about 21,000. Water flea: about 41,000. Most plants: about 20,000.

The whole idea is rubbish. A much better measurement using similar ideas is DNA analysis of genetic drift:

Molecular clock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Siamese Cat

Active Member
Good post DPinbucks.
Just as Moore's law doesn't seem to apply to evolution so it is useful to observe that genetic drift doesn't apply to transistors.
 
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Mr.D

Distinguished Member
Burn all the oil ; eat all the animals. The only thing that will save humanity is downloading ourselves into zero point powered silicon in order to escape the heat death of the universe.
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
Do I look like a Pentium? No, how does Moores's law apply to biological evolution?
Moore's Law is based on the observation of a trend, and has held up pretty well. It depends upon there being a constant relationship between figures over time (in this case that transistors per chip will double every two years)

But the idea that evolution shows a similar trend applied to complexity (that evolution produces increased complexity at a constant rate) simply doesn't hold up, for several reasons:
  • There is no workable definition of complexity;
  • No matter how it's defined, organisms are not more complex than in earlier times;
  • There is no theoretical basis for the idea. On the contrary: if left to itself, natural selection would prefer simpler and hence less energy-demanding organisms.
There are evolutionary trends which do work, such as the build up of genetic variation over time due to mutation, but complexity is not one of them.
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
A couple more decent Earth-like candidate planets found: BBC News - Kepler telescope spies 'most Earth-like' worlds to date
It's amazing how fast this has developed.

I reckon we're now at the stage where the discovery of new planets, including Earth-like, is no longer news.

It's now an observational and cataloguing task: supremely important, but we're not discovering planets any more: we're finding them. The subtle difference is that we know they're there now.

The idea that there are several billion Earth clones per galaxy is looking stronger and stronger.

Back in the 1980s I think it was, I heard someone say that the 19th century was the age of the chemist; the 20th the age of the physicist, and the 21st will be the age of the biologist.

It hasn't quite worked out that way. Sure, we're in an age of biology all right, but boy, has physics hung on! In cosmology, astronomy and particle physics, the last 13 years have been as eventful as any in history.
 

Miss Chief

Distinguished Member
Assuming the universe is infinite and the Big Bang was several billion years ago it stands to logical reason that there must be intelligent life out there.


Only problem I have is, where are they?
 

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