Madison Science Pub for March, Madison, WI

| 64 Comments

Our March event will feature Dr. Clark Johnson, Principal Investigator at the Wisconsin Astrobiology Research Consortium.

Dr. Johnson will discuss the origin of life, and the evolution of life on Earth.

How do we go about such a challenge? What do we look for? What do we know so far? How does our knowledge of the evolution of life on Earth help, or hurt, our search for life on other planets such as Mars? These are some of the questions that astrobiology research is engaged in.

March 25 Science Pub 2PM, Brocach Irish Pub 7 W Main Street, Madison, WI

64 Comments

Absolutely fascinating subjects! If I lived within a couple of hours I’d be there.

How do creationists go about approaching those questions? “There is no ‘astrobiology’ because there is no evolution and God only created life once, on Earth…because the Bible says so.” Then when extraterrestrial biology is discovered, they will suddenly “discover” that the Bible said there was all along.

Challenge to anyone with too much time on his hands: find one or more passages in the Bible that COULD be interpreted to mean that there is life elsewhere.

You called?

Isaiah 47:26: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens; consider who created these, led out their host one by one, and summoned each by name. Through his great might, his strength and power, not one is missing.”

Yes, yes. Too much time.

And Christians thought all along that referred to the stars, or maybe angels. Babes in the wood!

It’s lunchtime here. Biblical exegesis can be great fun if you’re trying to understand the meaning of the text and not stuck trying to defend what Bishop James Ussher said in 1650. :-) I am not a creationist.

I think Isaiah 40:26 is more likely referring to the individual stars, not the life forms; but it is quite an acceptable entry under the terms of the challenge. :-)

Consider the “let the earth/waters bring forth” verses in Genesis 1:11, 20, and 24. The English word “earth” here is “erets” in Hebrew, Strong’s Concordance H776. Water is mayim H4325. The Blue Letter Bible lists one possible meaning of “eretz” as:

c) ground, surface of the earth

1) ground

2) soil

Dirt + water => life

So wherever there are minerals and liquid water together in the universe, there is a good possibility that life arose there. Which is the same thing that exobiology says. Ta-dah!

Which is the same thing that exobiology says.

I’m not sure exobiology says that, exactly.

In some ways, ironically, the idea of detecting “intelligent” life is almost easier. After all, if that intelligent being communicates, there you go.

Once you start talking about “life”, all of the questions listed above kick in.

What is life? Does it have to be based on nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids? If it isn’t similar in biochemistry, how are we going to recognize it? If we are looking for something similar to terrestrial life, what basis do we have for making any assumption whatsoever about how common that will be.

To be clear, I am interested in and enthusiastic about abiogenesis and exo/astrobiology. Having said that, these remain areas of great mystery. We have some decent hypothetical models for some aspects of abiogenesis.

What is life? Does it have to be based on nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids? If it isn’t similar in biochemistry, how are we going to recognize it?

Living things eat, poop, grow, and reproduce. If things are found that do all of those, it would be a prime suspect in the search for life.

Henry J said:

What is life? Does it have to be based on nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids? If it isn’t similar in biochemistry, how are we going to recognize it?

Living things eat, poop, grow, and reproduce. If things are found that do all of those, it would be a prime suspect in the search for life.

Define each of those precisely, with special emphasis on how you will recognize each in the context of a completely novel biochemistry.

Do you think that all of these, as you define them, are required to identify life?

I think the things I listed are rough guidelines. With a completely novel biochemistry, stationary life forms could easily go unrecognized. So if something is seen to be growing, maybe throw some researchers at it and see if they figure out what it is?

I really wish we had more science pub meetings! It would great to be present among evolutionists all drinking beer and talking about how fish crawled out of the water to conquer the land. I propose setting up my own. Anyone game?

@Atheistoclast: I’m a long-time lurker, and your comment forced me to ask, “What’s the joke?” To me, your comment was analogous to, “Hey! Let’s sit around, drink beer and discuss how when the quarterback throws a football, it comes back towards the ground!” I’m guessing fear makes people say strange things and, mister, you say some really strange things.

Atheistoclast said: I really wish we had more science pub meetings! … I propose setting up my own. Anyone game?

If it would keep you occupied away from PT, I would be all for it.

garystar1 said:

@Atheistoclast: I’m a long-time lurker, and your comment forced me to ask, “What’s the joke?” To me, your comment was analogous to, “Hey! Let’s sit around, drink beer and discuss how when the quarterback throws a football, it comes back towards the ground!” I’m guessing fear makes people say strange things and, mister, you say some really strange things.

Aha…another “Evolution is as matter of fact as Gravity” comments. Sure, we can discuss the laws of physics and chemistry as well. Personally, I think most evolutionists take hard drugs to say all the silly things that they do.

garystar1 said:

@Atheistoclast: I’m a long-time lurker, and your comment forced me to ask, “What’s the joke?” To me, your comment was analogous to, “Hey! Let’s sit around, drink beer and discuss how when the quarterback throws a football, it comes back towards the ground!” I’m guessing fear makes people say strange things and, mister, you say some really strange things.

He’s just trying to get someone to give him some personal informations. Then, when he finds out who you are and where you live, he will stalk you until you get a restraining order. He does this a lot, especially with scientists. The science envy is strong in this one. He obviously takes drugs in order to give the illusion of normality.

Time for another dump to the bathroom wall for the socially and intellectually challenged.

I really wish we had more science pub meetings! … I propose setting up my own.

Yes. Call your pub the Bathroom Wall.

DS said:

Time for another dump to the bathroom wall for the socially and intellectually challenged.

I look forward to reading your scientific papers…the ones you haven’t written.

Meanwhile…

http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar[…]p;as_sdtp=on

You can only dream.

Atheistoclast said:

I really wish we had more science pub meetings! It would great to be present among evolutionists all drinking beer and talking about how fish crawled out of the water to conquer the land. I propose setting up my own. Anyone game?

I ignore AC as much as I can, but this time I find his comment out of this world!

Here’s what he should have written, he migh even have earned some resepect instead of the regular headshaking:

“I really wish we had more ID creationism pub meetings! It would great to be present among ID-iots all drinking root beer and talking about how God created all the endless forms most beautiful - that somehow managed to adapt and survive the wildly changing conditions on the young planet! I propose setting up my own.”

Please do! I presume Dembski, Behe, Robert Byers and Ray Martinez will be among your first enthusiastic guests. You have so much to discuss! Creationism is so much more interesting and rewarding than science! To discover who did what where and when, all the tremedous research projects!

Rolf said: “I really wish we had more ID creationism pub meetings! It would great to be present among ID-iots all drinking root beer and talking about how God created all the endless forms most beautiful - that somehow managed to adapt and survive the wildly changing conditions on the young planet! I propose setting up my own.”

Our first subject will be a discussion about the crocodile which has been around (largely unchanged) for the last 100 million years in spite of all the wildly changing conditions on the planet!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZq8ZUE6GTU

We can then head off the next day to church to sing “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.…the Lord God made them all.

What do you say to this proposal?

Don’t forget to include a bit about why the crocodile is in such a RARE category: largely unchanged for the last 100 million years.

And where all the dolphins, chimpanzees, and hummingbirds were then.

Just Bob said:

Don’t forget to include a bit about why the crocodile is in such a RARE category: largely unchanged for the last 100 million years.

And where all the dolphins, chimpanzees, and hummingbirds were then.

The crocodiles ate them, of course.

Atheistoclast said:

Rolf said: “I really wish we had more ID creationism pub meetings! It would great to be present among ID-iots all drinking root beer and talking about how God created all the endless forms most beautiful - that somehow managed to adapt and survive the wildly changing conditions on the young planet! I propose setting up my own.”

Our first subject will be a discussion about the crocodile which has been around (largely unchanged) for the last 100 million years in spite of all the wildly changing conditions on the planet!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZq8ZUE6GTU

Perhaps it’s because crocodilians are well-adapted to cope with wildly changing conditions.

We can then head off the next day to church to sing “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.…the Lord God made them all.

No doubt including the verse

Cecil Frances Alexander wrote:

The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate, He made them, high or lowly, And order’d their estate.

What do you say to this proposal?

Tick, tock?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNwh[…]feature=fvst

Skip,

I warned you. If you don’t want twenty more pages of ignorant off-topic crap like this, dump the troll to the bathroom wall now. Otherwise, this is all you can expect.

I think Atheistoclast should definitely start drinking more beer (CAVEAT - assuming normal liver function, no existing diagnosis of celiac sprue, etc). I support anything that furthers that. It will either improve him or exacerbate his tendencies to the point of bringing him in contact with those with the expertise to help him.

Initially, I was hesitant to make this somewhat unconventional recommendation, because even in the relatively low crime environment of the UK, law enforcement personnel have enough on their plates. But I’ve thought it over, and I think it’s a good idea.

DS said:

Skip,

I warned you. If you don’t want twenty more pages of ignorant off-topic crap like this, dump the troll to the bathroom wall now. Otherwise, this is all you can expect.

Can I find references to your published papers in the Bathroom Wall?

*RESPECT*…I am a published scientist while you are not. Honor thy betters, you insolent puppy..

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

Skip,

I warned you. If you don’t want twenty more pages of ignorant off-topic crap like this, dump the troll to the bathroom wall now. Otherwise, this is all you can expect.

Can I find references to your published papers in the Bathroom Wall?

*RESPECT*…I am a published scientist while you are not. Honor thy betters, you insolent puppy..

What a ludicrous little prawn you are. No one gets respect by demanding it. The only people who do that are those who will never have it. You’re a deluded fool, Theistoclast.

I think Atheistoclast should definitely start drinking more beer (CAVEAT - assuming normal liver function, no existing diagnosis of celiac sprue, etc).

An intelligent designer would have made better livers.

Atheistoclast said:

*RESPECT*…I am a published scientist while you are not. Honor thy betters, you insolent puppy..

Atheistoclast said:

*RESPECT*…I am a published scientist while you are not. Honor thy betters, you insolent puppy..

Hahahahahaha! What a maroon! Here’s a clue for you “Dr. Scientist”: respect is not an entitlement; you have earn it ding-bat. Posting crap on scientific message boards is a sure way of NOT earning respect, but rather earning disdain and mockery. Thus far your batting 1000 on the latter, but you’ll have to give some respect to others here before anyone is going to respect you.

Guys, don’t be too hard on Clastie, he’s been temporarily suspended on rationalskepticism.org (for misrepresentations of other people’s words and work) and is in desperate need of a little attention.

I did warn you Skip.

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

Skip,

I warned you. If you don’t want twenty more pages of ignorant off-topic crap like this, dump the troll to the bathroom wall now. Otherwise, this is all you can expect.

Can I find references to your published papers in the Bathroom Wall?

*RESPECT*…I am a published scientist while you are not. Honor thy betters, you insolent puppy..

I posted a paper that disproves your “hypothesis” about evo devo. Funny you haven’t bothered to read it or comment on it and yet you demand respect. You haven’t earned any. You will get none.

DS said:

Atheistoclast said:

DS said:

Skip,

I warned you. If you don’t want twenty more pages of ignorant off-topic crap like this, dump the troll to the bathroom wall now. Otherwise, this is all you can expect.

Can I find references to your published papers in the Bathroom Wall?

*RESPECT*…I am a published scientist while you are not. Honor thy betters, you insolent puppy..

I posted a paper that disproves your “hypothesis” about evo devo. Funny you haven’t bothered to read it or comment on it and yet you demand respect. You haven’t earned any. You will get none.

I saw no paper…certainly not one written by a scientifically illiterate young whipper-snapper like yourself. Face it DS, you lied about having a publication record..right on this very site in front of millions of people. You have also defamed scientists like myself who work hard to get their work published.

FREE IDEA FOR AN SF WRITER!

Yes, I’m still stuck on this: A planet on which evolution stopped eons ago, due to an absolutely stable environment and no competition. Undoubtedly a very limited biota… maybe only a single species, or a couple that are commensal and interdependent. Maybe humans need that planet for something (even though it can’t be Earthlike). Their activity or habitation on the planet would surely disrupt or even extinguish the indigenous species, which are utterly genetically incapable of evolving. If nothing else, they couldn’t resist any introduced pathogens, or pollution, or even subtle atmospheric changes.

Would it be morally justified for humans to tamper with the planet at all? Should they try to genetically engineer adaptability back into the local species? What might be the result? Be absolutely careful not to endanger the biota in any way? Stay the hell away? Could the locals be sentient (surely not technological, but maybe with language)? What sort of past would have driven them to evolve intelligence, then cease evolving?

Just Bob said: A planet on which evolution stopped eons ago, due to an absolutely stable environment and no competition.

Passing cosmic rays would occasionally disrupt the most hardened DNA.

Undoubtedly a very limited biota… maybe only a single species, or a couple that are commensal and interdependent.

Sounds like Nivens’ Puppeteers’ planetary system - or even the Ringworld.

But there are (science fictional) cellular mechanisms to either correct or destroy any DNA (or whatever) that doesn’t perfectly match the “proper” pattern.

And another conundrum for the humans: Were these organisms “designed” to remain inflexible in this static environment, and if so, by whom, and for what purpose?

Atheistofraud said:

DS said: Right. Reduced fitness is a benefit and biological systems were intellignetly designed to fall apart but can never get any better. Got it.

Reduced fitness prevents populations from outgrowing to the point where they deplete their own resources. It is good that some of us should suffer from infertility problems because this is Nature’s way of telling us that our population growth must be constrained. Once again, you show complete ignorance and a lack of intelligence.

And you show yourself to be a pathological liar.….again!

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This page contains a single entry by Skip published on March 19, 2012 7:27 PM.

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