Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

Are Aliens Vegetarians?

October 1, 2010

Aliens in fiction are very similar to humans. On Star Trek they might have an extra bone in the face and in Avatar they’re blue, but they’re virtually identical to humans, while in some cases the aliens seem to be nothing more than pure energy. But these are fantasies produced by limited minds and not realistic ideas based on an in-depth understanding of what life is and why it is the way it is. I wanna know what aliens really look like. To find out I’m gonna try to figure out what aliens are made of, what they eat and how they reproduce, based on the facts we have about life on Earth.

1. What are aliens made of?

All life on earth; trees, virus, fungi, reptiles, insects, mammals are made from 4 molecules, adenine, thymine (uracil), guanine and cytosine. Just 4 small molecules that are all made from about 20 atoms each. And all 4 are made up of 4 atoms; Nitrogen, Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen. These 4 atoms are small and therefore common in the universe because small atoms are produced in stars. They dissolve in water and thanks to the liquid water on earth they had a good chance of meeting each other and react chemically to form life. There might be some silicon-based life-forms as well. Both carbon and silicon have 4 valence electrons, meaning they have the maximum ability to form molecules with other elements making them great candidates for a basis of life and silicon is a also a small and common atom in the universe.

Life on a different planet would benefit from a liquid that increases the potential for forming new molecules, a star that makes up a stable energy source, an atmosphere that protects from electromagnetic radiation that destroys molecules and lastly the necessary atoms that like to react, like carbon and silicon. Helium, the second most abundant element in the universe is very stable and non-reactive and therefore not a big part in life. On the other hand, Germanium also have 4 valence electrons but it is very rare in the universe and only through massive luck will there be a planet far out in the colder regions of the universe with large amounts of germanium, but it’s not impossible.

2. What will aliens eat?

The first forms of life breathed in carbondioxide, used photosynthesis (star power) and breathed out oxygen. This is the plant quality. Then we get bacteria that breathe the now bountiful oxygen and eat the plants or other “animal bacteria”, that’s the animal quality. These are the only two types of life on Earth. Either you eat photons or you eat photon-eaters or you eat photon-eater-eaters and so on.

It’s likely they’ll consume molecules from the planet together with either photons or heat from the planet (like reptiles). The life-forms are most likely to occur on the surface where the molecules can move around easily and not in a very warm molten core that destroys molecules. They might use e.g. iron-compound molecules as their main food – life on earth only needs a small amount of iron. But humans eat carbohydrate-compound molecules because of its abundance so carbon or silicon are still more likely. Note that all food humans eat is other life-forms (except water) and the energy from these carbohydrate-compound molecules originally comes from photosynthesis.

On Earth, mammals are the biggest life-forms on the surface and in the water but not in the air. The evolution is like this: Plant bacteria, followed by animal bacteria, followed by different sorts of invertebrates, then insects, then fish, then reptiles, then flowers, then some reptiles got feathers and wings and they rule the air still today. When a lot of reptiles died 65 million years ago, small mammals took over. They differ from insects and reptiles and fish in that they have large brains and require much more from their parents. The female mammal only have 1-20 children, carries them inside her own body for several months and when it’s born let’s it eat from it’s own body, energy in the form of milk, and then spends several years with the child to educate its brain. This requires a lot, but is worthwhile in the end as we can see in the evolutionary success of whales and humans.

3. What will they look  like?

Alien animals will have senses; trees don’t but all tree-eaters, except fungi, bacteria and virus, do. And senses are required for thought so they’re not animals if they don’t have senses. And they will reproduce by some form of molecular copying or they’re not really life. And they will use energy to move around. They might not have milk, they might not have sex, they might not have eyes, they might not be symmetrical (all reptiles, birds, mammals have 4 extremities, 2 on each side on the body), they might not have a head that functions like a human head. Human heads are a center for senses – taste, smell, sight and hearing – and they take in air, water and food through the hole in the head. (Most birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, insects, spiders do too. Some lizards drink with their skin. Also octopuses, which belong to neither of these groups and interestingly have beaks, are what in Swedish is known as huvudfotingar (“head-feeters”) see picture below).

Animals on earth have between 0 and many extremities. Mammals, reptiles and birds have 4 extremities, one main body with processing organs and a head for molecular intake and senses, a skeleton that supports it all and skin that protects it all and holes at the bottom for passing out DNA and poo. And don’t forget all the bacteria that live in symbiosis with us inside us and on our body surface.

Aliens on other planets might swim with a screw-like body, sense radio waves with their skin, which might be made of iron. They might be 5000 meters long and have tree-like extremities and fight for mating rights using electromagnetic radiation or do they reproduce asexually, polysexually or maybe using flowers? In an area of rainforest 100x100metres you can find 100 000 species (not individuals) of insects. They all look “alien” to us and we should expect the same biodiversity on other planets, especially planets where life has evolved long enough to produce intelligent life. So, given the probability of all the prerequisites for life listed above, what will aliens look like? They might have senses for detecting all kinds of strange things in nature, shapes and life-cycles that we can’t even dream of, and made from a molecule no less strange than the billions-of-atoms-long DNA-molecule.

We can’t know what they’ll be like but if you see an alien with a head, two eyes and a mouth you should be be skeptical. We can’t know but maybe they’re as strange as the offspring of a rose, a scorpion, a star fish, an algae, a snail and a diamond. And potentially 10 000 times smarter than us, and if so, they will have the capacity to alter their DNA and their bodies to even stranger appearances, although they still have to obey the laws of physics and chemistry.

How Can DNA-Copying Lead to New Species?

September 25, 2010

A guy commented on a youtube clip:

“0 information is ever added to the DNA strand. It’s all copied, Einstein! Mutations are when the copy gets damaged.”

I said: “Mutation is not DNA damage, it’s DNA change, which can be either positive, neutral or negative to an individual. During DNA replication, base pairs can be added, moved, removed, doubled, replaced et cetera. This changes the function of the organism, which by any possible definition means that information has been added. During 2-3 billion years, from bacteria to human, billions of basepairs have been added. During 5-7 million years, from ape to man, 1% has changed.”

“Do you know why it’s called mutatation? Maybe you could look the word up? Ask your teacher why he believes damage to the cells development results in a healthier specimen? Look at the complete genetic system at work, account for all the players and their actions and you tell me, what is the component adding newly made codes to the system? It never ceases to amaze me how easily the devil can trick someone with crap like mutation (mutilation of the original information) is beneficial! WTH?”

I said: “Well, transposons, UV radiation and mutation hotspots with non-standard bases (not ATCG) are important players. And it seems strange to me that anyone can’t see that among all the negative and neutral mutations there is statistical probability for beneficial mutations. Examples are the CCR5 Delta 32 mutation against smallpox and all primates having 3 cone types in the retina (birds have 4, they can see UV, most mammals have 2).”

“Yes, there are positive reactions that occur due to the sophistication of the original design, I agree. But what I don’t get is how it’s twisted into something it’s obviously not capable of. The same system that takes a physical being to it’s physical peak in 25-35 years also takes that same being through the stages of middle, old age and death. The world is a challenging place to survive but if macro evolution is the system in control then by now nothing would die. What’s your take?”

I said: “Firstly, macroevolution=microevolution, just a difference in time span. Turritopsis nutricula is a jellyfish that can live forever. It only dies from disease and injury. The reason immortality is not the peak of evolution is because it’s more beneficial to spawn new individuals with new mutated qualities because the environment, including other life-forms, is constantly changing. But in a way, DNA is immortal, it’s been going for 3 billion years now.”

All plants, virus, animals – all life – is made from 4 cyclical molecules like adenine, C5H5N5, in pairs in a long chain. Insanely huge molecules formed by these four little molecules. From 100 base pairs to several billion base pairs long. Either God was hell-bent on making everything out of these four molecules for some unimaginable reason or evolution is true.

Pakistan Bans Facebook Over Mohammad Caricatures

May 19, 2010

The facebook event Everybody Draw Mohammad Day on May 20th has led a Pakistani court to order the government to block facebook on May 20th. My personal opinion on this whole Mohammad pictures debate is that magic does not exist. Since magic does not exist, souls do not exist and humans are comprised of 1,000 billion cells containing copies of a DNA-molecule, all copied from 1 single cell with a DNA-molecule formed with half of each parents’ DNA-molecule. Therefore, Mohammad was, just like me, and just like this computer and any rock on the bottom of the sea, composed entirely by atoms. And personally, I have a hard time accepting the logic behind any ban on any depiction of any item composed of any atoms. I don’t believe in God and magic and unicorns but maybe this ban makes sense to those who do.

God

January 28, 2010

I think the ideas of Plato, Adi Shankar and quantum mechanics’ infinite amount of dimensions work well together. Brahman = Plato’s ideal world and Reality, the manifested Atmans are examples of the infinite amount of universes. All reality, including time, concepts, matter and the experience of the self, are illusions, only God exists.

This idea is fine with me, to a certain degree. But Brahma/God IS an objective reality to some people, Brahma really does exist, if you believe in this form of Buddhism. As I see it, it doesn’t matter how aware you are of the fact that you’re delusional if you fail to see that you actually believe in a reality, no matter how transcendent, as I assume all buddhists do, despite calling themselves enlightened. Not talking about religious buddhists either, just philosphy.

Cuz really, what reason do we have to assume that the material reality is the illusion? We know we are delusional about the true nature of existence, but why assume that the true nature of existence is immaterial instead of material if we don’t have a clue to begin with?

Brahma is defined as the indescribable. For me, God is equated with “the unknowable”, not merely things that can’t be described by words, but pieces of existence that I don’t even know I don’t know about. It’s the blackness where my experienced universe is the light and I can’t even see the blackness, I can only see light.

So, for all practical purposes, the universe in my head is the universe i use to navigate through existence. But the true nature of reality is beyond me. However, at this point we can do what Descartes did, ask ourselves, what can we really be certain of.

“I am”, was his conclusion. But, “I am” is a circular definition. “am”, the idea of being, presupposes a subject or object, in this case I, that “is”. If we assume something exists, like we assume that a material or immaterial reality exists, we see that no matter how we manipulate our thoughts and language, we never free ourselves of our subjectively experienced universes. Like in my own case, in my world there are cucumbers, the colour green, bit of cords, supernovas, protons, and I necessarily form all my subsequent understandings based on this world-view. There is nothing I can be certain of, and at the same time I inevitably rely on my understanding of the universe, which is also true for my conclusion that there is nothing I can be certain of.

(Btw, if we can’t know anything for certain, then knowledge = belief). I believe that I am made from DNA. That is, 1 molecule, half of which comes from my dad and half from my mom, with some environmentally created chemical/radiation mutations and further upbringing factors added, which copied itself according to its own inbuilt map, and was and is me. The cell is like a bacteria, and before multicellular organisms arose less than 1 billion years ago, bacteria was the most complex form of life for more than twice as long, and they still exist. (Virus is like bacteria but without the cell structure, it’s like free radicals of DNA on the loose.) Is this material view right or wrong? Well, for all practical purposes it’s much better than saying “I don’t exist” (“I am not”).

The idea of a mind is part of my mind. An immaterial, unique mind that arose from a singular dual complex material molecule in a universe that is homogenous or heterogenous as strings or random fluctuations, which are the cause of the universe going from non-existing to existing and all these words are just different definitions on different levels of perspective for the very same universe. Is it coincidence that the earth and the atom are both spherical and unison, which might lead people to see the universe as infinite repetition where atoms in my foot are galaxies or universes in which other tiny sentient beings like ourselves exist, while everything on a visual level got edges, finite objects that are easier to grasp, both physically and mentally? It might be, how on earth should I know whether its by accident or not; whether it’s a reflection of how my mind works or not? A pattern is not necessarily devised. (Creationism is bullshit btw, but i think we’re beyond that already.)

However, I always return to consciousness, it seems to be a focal point, accidental or not doesn’t help me understand. A focal point is in itself more interesting than telling. The idea of oneness is an axiom of math. It’s an assumption that cannot be proven or disproven. And we base all our scientific understanding on this intuitive assumption, even when the resulting theory is counter-intuitive, like black holes and extra dimensions. (My intuition tells me black holes are no different from other material phenomena. People seem to think they’re supernatural, like the speed of light. It makes a tiny bit of sense to say something is immaterial in the sense that it’s below sub-atomic level if light is the building blocks of particles. But then most likely light can be divided into sub-particles itself. Either way, silicon melts into glass, carbon becomes diamonds under pressure, iron is fused in stars, what kind of processes and products can we expect to exist at the core of a black hole?)

Oneness links the multitude of Atmans to the one Brahman. The concept of transcendence enables 1=2. When we have a subject-object relationship, we can say that 1) only the subject exists, 2) only the object exists, 3) only the relation exists, 4) only an underlying thing exists, 5) any combination of the 4. Come to think of it, it all seems more like mind-play than enlightenment. It’s not really an explanation to say that reality doesn’t exist, it’s just caused by God, which is the thing that actually exists; or to say that it’s neither the object in the mind or the mind itself that exists, it’s the process of the mind that actually exists. You must remember that all these ideas are constructed by humans. They may be very intelligent, but they’re not omniscient. So-called enlightened people are still mere congregations of carbohydrates.

“Some medieval Christian mystics argued that it is incorrect to say that God exists, because existence amounts to taking a particular form within a space of time. God has no particular form and is outside of time. Therefore, God does not exist. However, God is. That’s an argument that many of us atheistic Buddhists can appreciate.”

If God doesn’t exist in a sense of the word exist that humans can talk about, then we can’t talk about God. God is the unknowable and indescribable and for all pruposes in reality does not exist and has no attributes. What’s the point of a God without attributes? Without attributes we don’t know if it’s a He, if it is omniscient, if it has a will, if it lives anywhere, if it created anything. We’ve reduced the concept of god to nothingness, to blackness, to the absence of everything, to the unknowable. God is dead, as it were. We’re left with the material world as the sole guide to understanding existence and we are very uncertain about the material world so we must be very uncertain of what existence is, for it is, isn’t it? Or what’s really going on? Why do I think? This question repeats itself forever, my thoughts are all circular definitions repeating themselves in new versions, avatars, of themselves every time I write a new sentence or my neurons reform from new experiences. Inventing brains in a vat is no different from inventing a God or an ideal world or any form of duality. It’s just adding a magical unknowable to the knowable and the error lies in the description of the magical unknowable because by definition we can’t know it. Therefore any attempt to describe a God beyond our knowledge is stupid. It might be true, but it is pointless to say so since we can’t know the anything about such a God.

This applies to free will as well. We have cause and effect. This means that all the input into your brain results in an output determined by the laws that govern electricity and chemical and biological reactions in your brain. Even quantum randomness is part of the predetermined reactions, unless that is how God’s free will affects the material world, but given the history of science it’s more likely we don’t fully understand what’s going on down on that level yet so maybe wait a bit before supposing magical and supernatural forces. Either way, on a neurological level there is no such randomness, all mental activities are possible to describe with simple molecular processes. Compare it to real numbers, like 1, 2 and 3. 1+2=3. There’s no room for a random factor in that equation. Similarly there is no room in the brain for a free will. If there was a free will it would be able to alter the effects that would occur on their own, and since all our decisions can be reduced to and explained by naturally occurring phenomena, like biology and environment to put it simplistically, there is no place for a magically affecting thingy.

The universe explains itself to itself like a dream within a dream and it thinks it is God but it’s clueless beyond it’s self.

Once You Go Obama, You Never Go Back

July 31, 2009

Obama called a cop stupid and bang, everybody ignores well-fare. In Sweden most people know that it is desirable to be able to offer all humans the health-care they need, even though we fall short of this goal in practice. In the States, it’s not even obvious that this should be the goal. Instead this idea is questioned.

“What?! The rich have to pay for the poor?”

We’re all monkeys and yet some monkeys think they are different from other monkeys. How can we rationalize inequality; national, global, or personal?

The President of the United States of America is a black male named Barack Hussein Obama. Before him, there were 44 white males. Assuming the term of service stays 4 years and Americans keep voting for black people as president consistently for the next 170 years, a racial equilibrium will finally be reached. Of course, then another 170 years of Indian rule would be needed, followed by 170 years of Asian ruling, then Aborigines and so on.

Once the racial equilibrium has been reached and white supremacy is only an item for the history books, it would only take another 1000 years to balance out the patriarchy of the States with 250 female presidents in a row. And then another 2000 years of presidents who are either bi, gay or any other sexual orientation apart from heterosexual. Then of course we’d have to have a few millenia of Muslim rule, Buddhists, then Hindus and so on. We can look forward to a wonderful world of open-mindedness and acceptance in the year 16074 A.D, when the United States of America will have ceased to exist a long time ago.

Or, we could put the past behind us and realize that all these attributes – religion, sexuality, skin-colour, gender, height, language, bra size or any mutation or opinion – are irrelevant to all things indirectly related to them. A person who is Christian is not for or against abortion. A person who is 140 centimeters tall might be the president of the Philippines. A person who wears a hat is not necessarily a philanthropist. A Muslim is not necessarily a fantasy novel publisher. An Eskimo is not necessarily your mother. A two-year-old boy is not necessarily in love with a toy tractor. One monkey once ate a banana.

Whatever the topic, job, situation, event or action, the mutant attributes of a human being that makes them unique in comparison to other human beings exist equally in all human beings. Everybody has a skin-colour, even albinos, everybody has sexuality, even asexuals, everybody has a belief, even atheists, everybody has height, everybody has weight, everybody is a bunch of atoms; more specifically a multicellular composition of DNA made from 4 nucleic acids; guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine – just like plants.

And just like a plant, every individual, unique DNA-cell complex lives for a short while and then dies.