Defining Life

I came across this article a few days ago and thought it was very interesting. Apparently a group of scientist at NASA has come up with a definition that they think encompasses all life forms in the universe. Below is the definition:

“Self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.”


This definition seems to explain very well the life we have already discovered and studied here on our own planet, but what about life from another planet? If the universe is as vast and infinite as it is theorized to be then I think there will be numerous exemptions to this very simple definition. I think this definition takes for granted that all life will be biological, and for that matter carbon based. I remember a friend from college, who was a Biology major, said something like a silicon based life form is not possible because their cells would not allow anything to pass through them. I understood what he was saying but, there again why does a life form have to have stuff pass though its cells. I know that is how things work on our planet, but you would have to think that on another planet things might have evolved differently. Perhaps evolution on its home planet was far different from what happened on Earth, I would think this is most likely the case.

Scientist only have on example to base so many of their predictions on. While this is a good starting point I do not think scientists on our planet can even begin to stereotype the different forms of life that may have evolved elsewhere in the universe. I found another article that I felt was a good follow up to the above article. Below is a quote from the article:

If the universe is biological and cultures evolve, then you get into the concept of post-biologicals. Maybe biological life is just a passing phase in the universe, and what we’re looking for out there is quite different from biological life?


I agree with this, I think that the universe could potentially be filled with not only biological life but also post-biological life as the quote suggest. I would argue that for every biological intelligent civilization out there, there has to be at least one that is a post biological. I do not have a definition of post-biological but I assume it means  a civilization that has created some sort of AI, and this AI has, for a variety of reasons, out lived their creators. The other school of thought could be that an infinitesimally small number of civilizations reach a post-biological culture. So you would have some ratio of 20 to 1, or perhaps it is much smaller like 100 to 1 or 1,000 to 1, you get the idea.

In my mind the definition does not encompass all life in the universe. To me the scientist are being way too short sighted when it comes to this idea. There are way too many unknowns to this idea for them to have such a simple definition. I would think that  life in the universe is far more complex thaimaget we can even imagine.

And now because I thought this was simply amazing, I posted a picture of my sock. After a long day of “work” I came home and threw off my socks to the other side of the couch. When I finally got up, several hours later, I noticed that the sock was standing upright. I thought it was pretty funny and had to take a picture. Thought this would be a nice finishing touch to the Friday Random Thoughts post.




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