Clay-armored bubbles may have formed first protocells

Feb 07, 2011
Fatty-acid liposomes compartmentalize inside a clay vesicle. Credit: Photo courtesy of Anand Bala Subramaniam, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of applied physicists at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Princeton, and Brandeis have demonstrated the formation of semipermeable vesicles from inorganic clay.

The research, published online this week in the journal , shows that clay vesicles provide an ideal container for the compartmentalization of .

The authors say the discovery opens the possibility that primitive cells might have formed inside inorganic clay microcompartments.

"A lot of work, dating back several decades, explores the role of air bubbles in concentrating molecules and to allow interesting chemistry to occur," says lead author Anand Bala Subramaniam, a doctoral candidate at SEAS.

"We have now provided a complete physical mechanism for the transition from a two-phase clay–air bubble system, which precludes any aqueous-phase chemistry, to a single aqueous-phase clay vesicle system," Subramaniam says, "creating a semipermeable vesicle from materials that are readily available in the environment."

"Clay-armored bubbles" form naturally when platelike particles of montmorillonite collect on the outer surface of under water.

When the clay bubbles come into contact with simple organic liquids like ethanol and methanol, which have a lower surface tension than water, the liquid wets the overlapping plates. As the inner surface of the clay shell becomes wet, the disturbed air bubble inside dissolves.

The resulting clay vesicle is a strong, spherical shell that creates a physical boundary between the water inside and the water outside. The translucent, cell-like vesicles are robust enough to protect their contents in a dynamic, aquatic environment such as the ocean.

The authors' schematic of clay vesicle formation, showing a cut-away view of the clay shell and dissolving bubble at the top, and a view of the water-air interface at the bottom. Credit: Image courtesy of Anand Bala Subramaniam, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Microscopic pores in the vesicle walls create a semipermeable membrane that allows chemical building blocks to enter the "cell," while preventing larger structures from leaving.

Scientists have studied montmorillonite, an abundant clay, for hundreds of years, and the mineral is known to serve as a chemical catalyst, encouraging lipids to form membranes and single nucleotides to join into strands of RNA.

Because liposomes and RNA would have been essential precursors to primordial life, Subramaniam and his coauthors suggest that the pores in the clay vesicles could do double duty as both selective entry points and catalytic sites.

"The conclusion here is that small fatty acid molecules go in and self-assemble into larger structures, and then they can't come out," says principal investigator Howard A. Stone, the Dixon Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton, and a former Harvard faculty member. "If there is a benefit to being protected in a clay vesicle, this is a natural way to favor and select for molecules that can self-organize."

This SEM image shows the exterior surface of a clay vesicle. Photo courtesy of Anand Bala Subramaniam.

Future research will explore the physical interactions between the platelike clay particles, and between the liquids and the clay. The researchers are also interested to see whether these clay vesicles can, indeed, be found in the natural environment today.

"Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in the origins of life is of course unknown," says Subramaniam, "but the fact that they are so robust, along with the well-known catalytic properties of , suggests that they may have had some part to play."

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kevinrtrs
1.4 / 5 (37) Feb 07, 2011
"Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in the origins of life is of course unknown," says Subramaniam, "but the fact that they are so robust, along with the well-known catalytic properties of clay, suggests that they may have had some part to play."


It's good to see that the researchers at least acknowledge that this is not the start of life on earth. Now just because it points to some possibilities, some zealous people will jump on it and point to this as something of substance where origin of life is concerned - overly excited by the sheer possibility of having something to cling to at last...

Moebius
3.9 / 5 (22) Feb 07, 2011
Sometime this century we will figure out the origin of life and it won't be some religious mumbo jumbo to fill that void in your personality that religion creates a warm fuzzy spot in.

First we have to figure out what preceded cellular life with DNA and had the ability to evolve DNA. Whether it originated here or elsewhere we can recreate it or the conditions that led to its creation. Some Einstein somewhere will eventually arrive at the correct theory and prove it. Evolution tells us there had to be a precursor and we will figure it out, just another missing link that needs to be filled in. Like all the others the religious have pointed at and have since been found.
Ethelred
4.5 / 5 (24) Feb 07, 2011
It's good to see that the researchers at least acknowledge that this is not the start of life on earth.
Reading difficulties Kevin? It says it MIGHT be involved and does not say that it isn't involved.

d - overly excited by the sheer possibility of having something to cling to at last...
I don't actually need to know how life got started to know that evolution is real and the Flood is not. We have megatons of fossils, lab work, logic and those flying squirrels you ignore. Plus of course you have to ignore the total lack of evidence in support of your beliefs. Like you ignore this question:

So when was the Flood Kevin?

Breadhead, who has more guts than you, went with Bishop Usher's date of 2349–2348 BC. Which I suspect you agree with since you won't post a date and know that one has MASSIVE historical problems.

So if you don't Usher's date what date do you like?

Ethelred
mininova
1.2 / 5 (19) Feb 07, 2011
I think you are all missing the most important point. Does not Genesis say God took clay from the ground and breathed life into it to create man?
Surely now you must believe.
Ethelred
4.3 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2011
Some Einstein somewhere will eventually arrive at the correct theory and prove it.
Going to be darned hard to prove. The physical evidence has almost certainly been eaten.

A plausible way life might have started can probably be done but actual proof that it started that way...

Ethelred
Ethelred
4.3 / 5 (17) Feb 07, 2011
. Does not Genesis say God took clay from the ground and breathed life into it to create man?
That is in Genesis two and it has man created before the animals, contradicting Genesis one which has man created last.
Surely now you must believe.
Believe what? That Kevin is a Creationist and your post seems a bit off kilter. Yeah I believe that. I can prove the first and the latter is more a question of are you joking or serious? You only have one previous post and it was pretty inane.

So I will assume that you meant that as a joke but when dealing with people like Kevin such an assumption can be oh so very wrong.

Ethelred
brianlmerritt
2.3 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
"Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in the origins of life is of course unknown"


It's good to see that the researchers at least acknowledge that this is not the start of life on earth.

I agree - it is extremely unlikely that life formed on Earth, and far more likely that biologic material reached Earth from Space.

However, it is still an interesting study. Life undoubtedly arrived and was extinguished on Earth many times before it finally took hold. Did the clay help life form / reform or did life help the clay have those properties ?
gvgoebel
4.7 / 5 (13) Feb 07, 2011
I agree - it is extremely unlikely that life formed on Earth, and far more likely that biologic material reached Earth from Space.


We have no way of calculating the odds of life arising spontaneously at all. At present, we have only one sample in the set, and have no more than informed speculation on how it happened.

It's the same calculation as life being common in the Universe. Is it common or not? We don't know. And what do we mean by "common"? One in a thousand star systems? That would be about 100 million stars in our Galaxy alone.
brianlmerritt
1.8 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2011
I agree - it is extremely unlikely that life formed on Earth, and far more likely that biologic material reached Earth from Space.


We have no way of calculating the odds of life arising spontaneously at all. At present, we have only one sample in the set, and have no more than informed speculation on how it happened.

Not quite correct - we do have asteroids in which have been found the building blocks of life.

Don't forget that until recently the Sun revolved around the Earth, and there was considerable push back by both scientific and religious communities before it was generally accepted that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

Any idea, like any product, has a life cycle. Where any individual or group are in the adoption curve is not a matter or right or wrong - it's simply a matter of timing.
gvgoebel
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2011
Don't forget that until recently the Sun revolved around the Earth, and there was considerable push back by both scientific and religious communities before it was generally accepted that the Earth revolved around the Sun.


"Preaching to the choir," sport.

GSwift7
3.4 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2011
agree - it is extremely unlikely that life formed on Earth, and far more likely that biologic material reached Earth from Space


We have no way of calculating the odds of life arising spontaneously at all. At present, we have only one sample in the set


We have observed organics all over the place, but only life here. However, when you look at how much and how diverse the life here is, it leads to some strong theories. Since it seems absurd that horses and such arrived here on an asteroid, we must assume they developed here, from a simpler form. LOTS of stuff developed here. But nothing we can see anywhere else. That just doesn't make sense, unless you assume that getting started is hard, then it takes off. If life came here from somewhere else, wouldn't we see other places that got started besides just here? It seems really hard to kill off life once it gets started.
Pyle
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2011
If life came here from somewhere else, wouldn't we see other places that got started besides just here?

Huh? GSwift7, I agree with everything you said, but don't quite see what this means. Where else would we see life? Our flavor of life isn't supportable anywhere else but here in our solar system.

If there is life on Mars or Titan it is in or under the regolith and we haven't really looked yet. Venus is hidden. The gas giants would have to be something altogether different, but we haven't looked there either so what would we know? The moon and asteroids can probably be ruled out as harboring any life, but beyond that, we really don't know. Heck, read Benford's Sunborn. We just don't know.
gvgoebel
3.5 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2011
But nothing we can see anywhere else. That just doesn't make sense, unless you assume that getting started is hard, then it takes off. If life came here from somewhere else, wouldn't we see other places that got started besides just here?


Huh? We've only visited two other planets (not counting moons). The most we know about planets in other star systems is that we've listed a few hundred that exist and have a few bits of information about their gross properties.

If we ever launch Terrestrial Planet Finder or its equivalent, we might spot planets with oxygen atmospheres. But that wouldn't cover "life as we don't know it at all".

It seems really hard to kill off life once it gets started.
Modernmystic
2.8 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2011
It seems really hard to kill off life once it gets started.


Either that or we've just been extremely lucky. There are plenty of big nasty things out there that could easily sterilize the planet. GRBs, large enough asteroid (it would have to be pretty big), magnetars, etc etc.

That just doesn't make sense, unless you assume that getting started is hard, then it takes off.


I agree, but it's hard to reconcile as it seems like just as soon as life COULD start here...it did.
gvgoebel
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
I agree, but it's hard to reconcile as it seems like just as soon as life COULD start here...it did.


Yeah, that's one of the encouraging (if not much more than that) bits of information in the matter.

Another encouragement is the *extreme* persistence of life -- it exists deep underground, in polar pools, at the bottom of the ocean, in asphalt ponds. Does the sheer *drive* of life extend back into its origins? There's no saying for sure, but it's suggestive.
Yellowdart
1.3 / 5 (16) Feb 07, 2011
So when was the Flood Kevin?


Right after Methesulah died most likely around 1650 yrs after creation. Probably means about the 2350 bc. give or take a few as you mention.

That is in Genesis two and it has man created before the animals, contradicting Genesis one which has man created last.


It does not. It is one thing to criticize religion, but do not distort or misrepresent what it says. Gen 2 says nothing about creating animals, only that beasts of field and birds were brought to Adam.

We have megatons of fossils


Isnt that what creationist champion as evidence for a flood? What else would you expect from a world wide water event, but massive sedimentary burial of what was living at the time.

Ah yes, decay rates in sedimentary layers. Several experiments are showing that decay rates can be drastically altered by stripping away the electrons of an element.

gvgoebel
4.6 / 5 (11) Feb 07, 2011
Ah yes, decay rates in sedimentary layers. Several experiments are showing that decay rates can be drastically altered by stripping away the electrons of an element.


Wikipedia has a pretty good article on "Radioactive Decay" with a very pertinent section on "Changing Decay Rates" -- which doesn't suggest any great basis for FUD ("Fear! Uncertainty! Doubt!")

I admit that Wikipedia's not the best source on the planet, but all the other references I could find were on sites like Answers In Genesis, and I would regard Marvel Comix as a better source on scientific matters.
Yellowdart
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2011
Check out Fritz Bosch's work on beta decay. As you strip electrons the decay rate increases.

Google: Setting a Cosmic Clock with Highly Charged Ions

It wouldnt let me link the paper.

If you still wish to call him a Marvel Comic source...thats up to you.
Pyle
3.6 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2011
I agree, but it's hard to reconcile as it seems like just as soon as life COULD start here...it did.

Really? I thought there was a rather large window, almost a billion years, that we really aren't sure about. There might have even been several false starts ended during heavy bombardment.

Anyway, clay bubbles provide another means of getting more complex molecules together. It has a reproduction problem that might lend support to why there appears to be only one common single cell organism ancestor.

Ethelred and gvgoebel, stop feeding the trolls.
gvgoebel
4.6 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2011
Bosch's work is discussed and referenced in the Wikipedia article, which describes changes in the decay rate of rhenium-187 that can affect emissions from supernova emission nebulas loaded up with ionized (really hot) rhenium.

But we've got nothing to discuss, do we YD? I know you're cherry-picking, just as certainly as I know that if you tried to play such games at a chemistry or physics department at any university except Oral Roberts they'd give you tips for the comedy act.

Bored now. Game over.

mininova
4.6 / 5 (14) Feb 07, 2011
I think you are all missing the most important point. Does not Genesis say God took clay from the ground and breathed life into it to create man?
Surely now you must believe.


The fact that you thought I was serious shows there are way to many creationists on this website.
gvgoebel
4.6 / 5 (11) Feb 07, 2011
The fact that you thought I was serious shows there are way to many creationists on this website.


The problem with playing "Loki troll", sport, is that the real thing sounds a lot crazier. Be aware that the audience may have had their irony meters pegged so many times as to be completely warped.
Yellowdart
1.3 / 5 (16) Feb 07, 2011
But we've got nothing to discuss, do we YD? I know you're cherry-picking


I'm not sure why you'd call it cherry picking. It is likely the same process could occur across most elements. That would be the next area to test and run experiments on.

The actual question you should ask is, is it then possible during a flood under the biblical conditions. It's certainly possible.
gvgoebel
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2011
Ethelred and gvgoebel, stop feeding the trolls.


Sorry, sport, I'm still a little new here and it takes a little time to figure out who the nutjobs are. No worries, I know better than to play their games for long.
GSwift7
2.5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
Huh? GSwift7, I agree with everything you said, but don't quite see what this means. Where else would we see life? Our flavor of life isn't supportable anywhere else but here in our solar system


Some trace of life in asteroids? Are we to assume that it was just one asteroid that brought life here, and that it's the only one that ever crossed our path, and that just by chance, it survived impact and thrived. You'd have to assume that it came from someplace with conditions similar to here in that case, right? I'm just pointing out that it's more likely that it formed here, or we'd see asteroids with evidence of microbes and stuff. Okham's Razor.

Think about how unlikely it is that life on another planet or moon could have survived the impact tha blasted it off that body, then life survived possibly millions of years in interplanetary space, then survived entry into our atmosphere and then survived impact on our surface. Organic molecules are much more likely.
Parsec
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2011
"Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in the origins of life is of course unknown"


It's good to see that the researchers at least acknowledge that this is not the start of life on earth.

I agree - it is extremely unlikely that life formed on Earth, and far more likely that biologic material reached Earth from Space.

However, it is still an interesting study. Life undoubtedly arrived and was extinguished on Earth many times before it finally took hold. Did the clay help life form / reform or did life help the clay have those properties ?

"life started from space" .. and its turtles all the way down.
Pyle
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2011
GSwift7:
Again, I agree, my point was just that we really don't have ANY data points regarding life elsewhere. We haven't fully investigated our closest planetary neighbors to see if life is there. We don't know if any or what type of life is on Venus, or what the building blocks for such life might be.

I agree fully that it is really a stretch to think something living survived a catastrophe that put it on an asteroid, the trip through interstellar space, and entry onto Earth. Amino acids, maybe, but anything more complex, not so much.

btw, how resilient are clay bubbles? ... turtles?
tkjtkj
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2011

Again, I agree, my point was just that we really don't have ANY data points regarding life elsewhere. We haven't fully investigated our closest planetary neighbors to see if life is there.


True, but its also true that places on our earth where life has been found are so 'unearthly' that they must rival the extreme environments of some other worlds. Hot sulphur vents come to mind, as well as hydrocarbon lakes. The leap to extra-earth life probabilities is not such a great one.
DamienS
4.6 / 5 (11) Feb 07, 2011
True, but its also true that places on our earth where life has been found are so 'unearthly' that they must rival the extreme environments of some other worlds.

And that is also true, but just because we find extremophiles in many and varied extreme environments, does not mean that life can arise in all of those environments from scratch.

It's likely that only one of those, and probably different than any today, environments was the sweet-spot for life's genesis. Life then, over time and through adaptations, was able to colonize other environments, including extreme ones, as we're now discovering.
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (8) Feb 07, 2011
We observe that Earthly life is "robust", able to adapt to extreme environments. Frustratingly that doesn't tell us if abiogenesis is "robust", able to occur in a wide range of environments as well -- or is dependent on a finicky set of initial conditions.

I would bet it *is* "robust", but alas it's a no-odds bet -- maybe so, maybe not. One of the interesting aspects of this question is the possibility that life arose several times on Earth.

Paul Davies speculates that there may be microorganisms in extreme environments with fundamentally different biochemistries that we haven't noticed because we haven't been looking for them. More intriguingly, Freeman Dyson has speculated that life as we know it actually did start twice, as protein-based metabolism and RNA-based heredity, and then teamed up, analagous to the way the eukaryotic cell is a hybrid of two or more prokaryote lines.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2011
extremely unlikely that life formed on Earth, and far more likely that biologic material reached Earth from Space
While it is pretty clear that ORGANIC, not biological, material came from outside the Earth there is no reason to think that life did not start here.
Not quite correct - we do have asteroids in which have been found the building blocks of life
Which are organic molecules and most are VERY simple such as CN better known as cyanide. Some amino acids have been found as well but life is not needed for them to form.
Any idea, like any product, has a life cycle
And this started and ended with Sir Dr. Frederick Hoyle. It was part of his attempt at overturning the Big Bang. The prime mover now that Fred is dead is his student who's name escapes me at the moment. Fred got ripped off by the Nobel committee but that doesn't mean he is right on this.
is not a matter or right or wrong - it's simply a matter of timing
No. Right REALLY helps. Wrong hurts.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (9) Feb 08, 2011
Right after Methesulah died most likely around 1650 yrs after creation. Probably means about the 2350 bc. give or take a few as you mention.
Which is after the Sumerians, Chinese, and Egyptians started writing in the same language they used for centuries after that date. And it is smack in the middle of the time the Egyptians were building pyramids. None of them noticed being wiped out.
It does not.
Yes it does. Go write down the order in Genesis one and then write the order in Genesis two. Compare them. They ARE different.
It is one thing to criticize religion, but do not distort or misrepresent what it says
I not the one doing that. YOU are.
Gen 2 says nothing about creating animals, only that beasts of field and birds were brought to Adam.
False.
Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Adam is ALONE at this point. No animals.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (9) Feb 08, 2011
Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Gen 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof.
THAT is creation of the animals. Funny how Creationists distort the actual words of the Bible and then blame me for what the Bible REALLY says.
Isnt that what creationist champion as evidence for a flood?
Sometimes they tell that lie. Since the fossils are OLDER than the Flood it is a false claim. Some of the fossils are over a billion years old. I don't know of any lithified fossil that is less than 10,000 years old.

More
Ethelred
5 / 5 (9) Feb 08, 2011
What else would you expect from a world wide water event, but massive sedimentary burial of what was living at the time.
I would expect MANY other things that we don't see. The sediments should be sorted by density and not from being laid down over hundreds of millions of years. I would NOT expect to find heavy sand over light lime. I would expect it all to be less than thousands of years old instead of millions and hundreds of millions and even billions.
Several experiments are showing that decay rates can be drastically altered by stripping away the electrons of an element.
And this changes the actual time they were laid down HOW? It changes the WAY they were laid down HOW? It makes the Egyptians drowned while building pyramids HOW?

You really don't know anything about geology or palaeontology that you didn't get from a Creationist do you? Heck you can't even read the Genesis one and two accurately.

Ignorance is curable. Take the cure and start learning.

Ethelred
ricarguy
1 / 5 (9) Feb 08, 2011
Creationists vs. secular scientists arguing like children, except with bigger words. Genesis may not have been written for it all be taken literally, e.g. 6 days, and only a few thousand years ago, and someday discovering the mechanism by which life or the universe was formed doesn't mean there is no God behind it. What makes the two mutually exclusive? Only hard-nosed, set-in-your-ways opinions. Jesus made an art form out of making the blind see, and making those who could see, who were the most educated, enlightened or powerful, blind.

"That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."
- Albert Einstein

widgget
4.8 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2011
I enjoy your posts Ethelred.

Reading the nonsense that these creationists spew and then watching them squirm around all the logic that is thrown back at them is a million times better then any of the articles that get posted. keep it up!
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2011
Do you exist?

Prove it.

The odds of you existing are astronomically low. The combination of events over millions of years, leading up to your existence, is so statistically improbable that it is nearly impossible for you to exist.

Or..

The sequence of events beginning with the big bang, leading up to your existence, that led to this exact moment were predetermined by Universal laws such that no other outcome was ever possible, and your existence was unavoidable from the start.

I love philosophy. Notice that there aren't very many classical philosophers any more? What a shame.
Thrasymachus
3.1 / 5 (15) Feb 08, 2011
My own existence requires no proof. For me, it is self-evident. Since I exist, the likelihood that I exist is precisely 1. If I didn't exist, the likelihood that I exist is 0.

However, if we're not talking about me, but about someone exactly like me, living in a world exactly like this one, but causally disconnected from this one, then the truth is, we don't know what the odds of that are. They might be 1, in which case everything is predetermined, or they might be zero because I and my world might be absolutely unique, or they might be anything in between.

But the likelihood that I exist is certainly not nearly zero. After all, something is writing this post.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (10) Feb 08, 2011
Creationists vs. secular scientists arguing like children, except with bigger words.

The secular side seems to be making arguments with evidence to support their position. That's not how children argue. But if that's how you want to characterize the creationists, I won't argue.
Genesis may not have been written for it all be taken literally, e.g. 6 days, and only a few thousand years ago, and someday discovering the mechanism by which life or the universe was formed doesn't mean there is no God behind it.

So how do you determine what is fact, and what is fiction, then? Whatever you find convenient? If you accept one part of the bible as historically inaccurate, then you have to admit anything else is subject error. If you believe it's all to be taken literally, then you have to face up to contradictory physical evidence.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (8) Feb 08, 2011
and someday discovering the mechanism by which life or the universe was formed doesn't mean there is no God behind it. What makes the two mutually exclusive?
They're not mutually exclusive, as there is always the unfalsifiable chance that there's a god outside our direct experience. There is also a chance it's a god not found in any religious text.
Only hard-nosed, set-in-your-ways opinions.
If you don't wear orange clothes outdoors, a goblin will eat you. If you don't believe my statement I will consider you hard-nosed and set-in-your-ways.
Jesus made an art form out of making the blind see, and making those who could see, who were the most educated, enlightened or powerful, blind.
Jesus as a mythical figure, maybe. Yet it seems that this guy was so great, but no one wanted to write about him outside of the bible. You can make a story up any way you want.
soulman
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2011
But the likelihood that I exist is certainly not nearly zero. After all, something is writing this post.

But how do I know that it's you writing that post? :)
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2011
@soulman,
But the likelihood that I exist is certainly not nearly zero. After all, something is writing this post.
But how do I know that it's you writing that post? :)
Apropos: xkcd.com/329/

@Terrible_Bohr,
There is also a chance it's a god not found in any religious text.
Given the infinitely generative capacity of language, I'd argue that the chance of it being any god described in any text (a countably finite set), divided by the chance it being any other god not ever described in any text (a countably infinite set), would come out to 0.

Also, the chance of it being any god whatsoever (countably infinite set), divided by the chance of it being anything other than some god (uncountably infinite set), would also come out to 0.
ArthorBearing
not rated yet Feb 08, 2011
This is otherwise such a great site, it's a shame so man posts are polluted by misread myths being taken literally by True Believers
Thrasymachus
2.3 / 5 (11) Feb 09, 2011

But how do I know that it's you writing that post? :)
You don't. But for all I know, I wrote your post and forgot, so you're really me, in which case, we'd both exist, though probably not concurrently. All I really know is that either I'm writing this post now, or I'm having a very vivid hallucination of doing so. In either case, I exist.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2011
Given the infinitely generative capacity of language, I'd argue that the chance of it being any god described in any text (a countably finite set),
Any existing text or any possible text? The former is finite, the latter uncountable infinite.
divided by the chance it being any other god not ever described in any text (a countably infinite set), would come out to 0.
Here we have to consider gods who are not describable by any text. And even the (smaller set of) describable gods would have a cardinality greater than aleph-zero given the set of possible texts is uncountable infinite.

Also, the chance of it being any god whatsoever (countably infinite set), divided by the chance of it being anything other than some god (uncountably infinite set), would also come out to 0.
I'm not so sure about the countability of these sets. We'd have to define first a criterion to tell gods from non-gods. Immortality? Not good, because not provable.
GSwift7
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2011
But the likelihood that I exist is certainly not nearly zero. After all, something is writing this post.


The whole idea that matter exists is absurd. Things called particles and quasi-particles joined together in a way that leaves mostly empty space between them, but they form 'solid objects'? Then if you take them apart they turn into energy? Right. Then there's the silly idea of time. Yeah, show me how time works. What a joke. The concept of 'real' is very difficult to support in any rational way. It takes a great many leaps of faith to even begin to think about it.

Of course I'm being deliberately contrary in order to make a point. My point is this: Compare our understanding of the Universe to what an ant might think about the economy or climate change. How might we view reality if we were to humans as humans are to an ant? And then imagine another order of magnitude above that. Are you even sure you know what 'real' is?
PinkElephant
not rated yet Feb 09, 2011
@frajo,

I didn't do my math carefully, but my thinking goes along the following rough outline. Any text is just a string of characters. There is a finite number of characters in any given alphabet. A string of any finite length would thus be equivalent to a number (whose digits are experessed as characters of an alphabet.) So, a set of all possible texts up to a given finite length, is countable.

Now, the set of all texts that exist or ever existed, and described any god(s), is obviously finite and countable.

The set of all possible texts (including all those that describe gods never actually ever described before in human history) is countably infinite -- because we can't set a limit to length of such texts a priori. Its cardinality is countably infinite, just like that of the set of all integers.

The set of all possible texts describing the universe's origin that do not involve any god(s) is larger still, by an infinite margin -- so, uncountably infinite.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2011
ctd.

We can quibble regarding the exact delineation of the meaning of "god", but pretty much regardless of how we draw the boundaries (unless we draw them so broadly as to render the notion of "god" meaningless), I think it's obvious that that the cardinality of all concepts falling within the boundaries of "god" is dwarfed by the cardinality of all other possible concepts that will not satisfy those constraints.

So basically, that's my calculus in favor of hard atheism. Unless there's empirical demonstration of some "supernatural" phenomenon, it is mathematically impossible to *guess* the right conceptualization -- your odds of hitting anywhere close to the mark, are mathematically zero. On the other hand, empirical demonstration would turn the "supernatural" into merely natural: as it would become detectable, measurable, analyzable, and generally susceptible to study and direct observation. Ergo, the very concept of the "supernatural" is fundamentally a logical error.
gvgoebel
not rated yet Feb 09, 2011
I didn't do my math carefully, but my thinking goes along the following rough outline.


Sounds like a browse through Jorge Borges' LIBRARY OF BABEL:

ht_CUT_OUT_tp://jubal.westnet.com/hyperdiscordia/library_of_babel.html

"The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries ..."
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2011
@GSwift7,
The concept of 'real' is very difficult to support in any rational way. It takes a great many leaps of faith to even begin to think about it.
To the contrary, the concept of "real" is the only concept that is in any way rational.

There is the ACTUAL reality, which exists regardless of whether we comprehend it or not, and regardless of any degree to which we might comprehend it.

And then there are our notions and descriptions of that reality, which are necessarily flawed. I say necessarily, because our sensory organs are limited, our memory capacities finite, and our information processing capacities constrained by energetic and physiological factors. So, to represent the vastly (infinitely?) detailed reality of our universe in such a manner that we could cognitively process it, we must necessarily apply lossy compression to it. That's the essential nature and purpose of language: it is a mechanism of lossy compression and heuristic processing of sensory information.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2011
So, a set of all possible texts up to a given finite length, is countable.
With finite length, yes.
Now, the set of all texts that exist or ever existed, and described any god(s), is obviously finite and countable.
Of course.
The set of all possible texts (including all those that describe gods never actually ever described before in human history) is countably infinite -- because we can't set a limit to length of such texts a priori. Its cardinality is countably infinite, just like that of the set of all integers.
No. If this set were countably infinite only then there would be a canonical ordering of the texts which leads to Richard's paradox.
The set of all possible texts describing the universe's origin that do not involve any god(s) is larger still, by an infinite margin -- so, uncountably infinite.
No, they both have the same cardinality, aleph-one.
CARD[even natural numbers] = CARD[natural numbers]
and
CARD[real interval 0...1] = CARD[real numbers).
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2011
The concept of 'real' is very difficult to support in any rational way. It takes a great many leaps of faith to even begin to think about it.
To the contrary, the concept of "real" is the only concept that is in any way rational.
Unfortunately, rationality doesn't help selecting from QM interpretations.
There is the ACTUAL reality, which exists regardless of whether we comprehend it or not, and regardless of any degree to which we might comprehend it.
And then there are our notions and descriptions of that reality, which are necessarily flawed.
That's the Platonic two-tier picture of shadows (senses and language) and ideas (reality).
But how real are elementary objects, likewise particles and waves? How real are "space" and "time" inside a BH event horizon?
Looks like we have to backstep once more in favor of a three-tier picture: [I] brain imagery of sensory inputs, [II] mathematical modelling of (I), [III] interpreting (II). Which tier gets the "reality" award?
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2011
there would be a canonical ordering of the texts which leads to Richard's paradox.
Actually, any text string can be directly converted into a unique corresponding integer: simply treat every letter as a digit (if an alphabet has 26 letters in it, plus 10 punctuation marks, then the text string is just a base-36 integer.) That's a direct mapping into integers, making the set of strings countably infinite. Provided we omit texts describing how to construct other texts -- i.e. meta-descriptions (these wouldn't be texts directly describing the origin of the universe, at any rate), we'd avoid Richard's paradox.
they both have the same cardinality, aleph-one.
Well, that would be aleph-zero, by the mapping defined above. But you're right, the two sets would appear to have the same cardinality.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2011
CARD[real interval 0...1] = CARD[real numbers)
I've always hated that postulate. Seems to me like prefixing every possible positive integer with "0.", would exactly reproduce every possible real number between 0 and 1 (Which would mean the interval has cardinality aleph0.) And since there are aleph0 such intervals, then the cardinality of the continuum ought to be aleph0^2 rather than 2^aleph0.

But I'm no specialist in set theory; I'm probably missing some key intuition. If you know what that is, please feel free to enlighten me.
That's the Platonic two-tier picture of shadows (senses and language) and ideas (reality).
Not really. Ideas are not reality; they are compressed abstractions of reality. And they're pretty much guaranteed to be incomplete and/or inaccurate, at that.
But how real are elementary objects, likewise particles and waves? How real are "space" and "time" inside a BH event horizon?
These are all concepts and models, not reality.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2011
Which tier gets the "reality" award?
Reality is simply that which exists.

It is distinct from and independent of any attempt at comprehension thereof. Reality would be there even if no sentient being existed to either perceive or cognitively model it.

Reality is that against which models must be tested; it is the true structure and content of the universe that can only be approximated asymptotically, through trial and error, by progressively refined models, but perhaps never fully described.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (4) Feb 10, 2011
Reality is a punch in the nose.

This can be proven by threatening an anti-reality philosophy wanker with a punch in the nose and seeing that they, almost always, react badly to the, lets face it, non-real, as we are on the internet, threat. This bad reaction is proof the self-proclaimed anti-reality philosopher is really just a wanker that KNOWS there is an objective reality.

Did I use enough commas to confuse everyone? The advantage of comma delimited comments is that you need only one comma to close them all as opposed the parenthetical comments where you need a one ) to one ( relationship.

Ethelred
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2011
Rene Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender says: "What'll it be, Rene? The usual?"

Descartes answers: "I think not." And disappears.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2011
I can't really see that happening as the irrefutable Bruce's of the Philosophy Department of the University of Wallamaloo have assured us that

Rene Descartes was a drunken fart 'I drink therefor I am'


And I have heard the Bruce's in person. So it must be true.

Ethelred
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2011
Hmph! I don't think Descartes could stand up to my man David Hume:

"David Hume could out-consume William Friedrich Hegel!"

Tough competition there.
frajo
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
any text string can be directly converted into a unique corresponding integer: simply treat every letter as a digit (if an alphabet has 26 letters in it, plus 10 punctuation marks, then the text string is just a base-36 integer.) That's a direct mapping into integers, making the set of strings countably infinite.
This (canonically ordered) set does not contain all possible texts as can be seen by constructing a text which is not contained in the countable list mentioned above. The construction method, an important tool in theoretical informatics, is described in the Wikipedia entry on "Richard's paradox". Thus, the set of all possible texts is uncountable infinite.
Moreover it is well-known that the set of all infinite sequences of natural numbers (which represents the same equivalence class as the set of all possible texts) is uncountable infinite.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
This (canonically ordered) set does not contain all possible texts
Depends on its construction. If it's a set of syntactically and grammatically correct texts (never mind, semantically coherent and restricted to a particular topic), then of course it's incomplete. However, if it includes all possible permutations of symbols in every possible position, then indeed it covers all possible texts.

And since the mapping pairs every unique text with a corresponding unique integer, then the cardinality of texts cannot exceed cardinality of integers. IOW you can't come up, by any method, with any text that isn't paired to its own, corresponding, unique integer (indeed, the text IS the integer, just written in some base other than 10.) Even an infinitely long, algorithmically constructed text, would merely correspond to an infinitely large, algorithmically constructed integer.

I also don't think Richard's paradox is applicable in this particular case.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
But I must be missing something major here; please explain what that is, if you know.

I actually even have issues with Cantor's diagonal construction for the uncountability of real numbers proof. I could take that very same table of infinite sequences of digits, and interpret it as a listing of integers rather than real numbers (any infinitely large integer would have infinitely many digits...) Then, I'd end up with a conclusion that integers are uncountable (which is absurd.)

Here's a related issue. Let's algorithmically construct 2 infinite integers. The algorithms are simple. First integer (call it A) is constructed by an infinite sequence of the digit 4. Second integer (B) is constructed by an infinite sequence of the digit 2. Now, shouldn't it be true, by the virtue of these constructions, that A/B = 2, even though A and B are both infinite? But that would contradict the axiom of choice...
frajo
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
CARD[real interval 0...1] = CARD[real numbers)
I've always hated that postulate. Seems to me like prefixing every possible positive integer with "0.", would exactly reproduce every possible real number between 0 and 1
Cantor's (second) diagonal proof shows that there is no surjection from the set of natural numbers onto the real interval [0;1], that is, no infinite list of natural numbers can map onto all real numbers in a finite interval. The reason being the possibility to construct - by diagonally walking over the ordered infinite list - a number in the interval which does not equal any number in the list. Thus the real interval contains more numbers than there are natural numbers.

In colloquial terms I'd say that the natural line and the real line are of the same length, but not of the same density. Natural numbers have neighbors, reals not. Nothing fits between two natural "neighbors", but between any two reals exists an uncountably infinite set of reals.
frajo
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
I actually even have issues with Cantor's diagonal construction for the uncountability of real numbers proof. I could take that very same table of infinite sequences of digits, and interpret it as a listing of integers rather than real numbers (any infinitely large integer would have infinitely many digits...) Then, I'd end up with a conclusion that integers are uncountable (which is absurd.)
Yes, it would contradict the assumption of the listing being complete, i.e. containing all naturals.

I think one error is to think that an infinite listing of all natural numbers is equivalent to an infinite listing of all possible permutations (without length limit) of a given (finite) set of "digits". The latter is uncountable infinite, the former only countable infinite.
Or: The infinity of the natural numbers is smaller than our naive imagination of an infinity.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
natural line and the real line are of the same length, but not of the same density
Oh, I get that.

My issue is with the degree of density. Cantor's construction indicates that the density of the real line is 2^aleph0. Tried though I have, I can't understand the basis of how this is derived (as I mentioned above, it seems to me it should be more like aleph0^2.)
the possibility to construct - by diagonally walking over the ordered infinite list - a number in the interval which does not equal any number in the list
I get that too. However, let's look at that constructed number. If I hadn't presumed a "0." in front of it, it would actually be an integer! In fact, every row of the table is just an integer (with infinitely many digits.)

So I guess I'm stuck on this part: are mathematicians stipulating that distinct integers with infinitely many digits cannot exist -- despite the fact that they can easily be constructed algorithmically?
PinkElephant
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
I think one error is to think that an infinite listing of all natural numbers is equivalent to an infinite listing of all possible permutations (without length limit) of a given (finite) set of "digits"
The way Cantor's real numbers are constructed in his diagonal proof, is by forcing each to be infinitely long even if it's not naturally -- e.g. by padding with an infinite list of 0's to the right. But I could do the exact same thing to any integer -- except by prefacing it with an infinite list of 0's to the left. Viewed this way, the full listing of all integers really would be the full listing of all possible permutations of digits in every possible position.

That's why my stupid dysfunctional brain keeps wanting to conclude that [0,1] (or in fact any finite real interval) should have cardinality aleph0, rather than 2^aleph0.
frajo
not rated yet Feb 10, 2011
Let's algorithmically construct 2 infinite integers.
There are no infinite integers. The set of natural numbers contains finite numbers only.
The algorithms are simple. First integer (call it A) is constructed by an infinite sequence of the digit 4. Second integer (B) is constructed by an infinite sequence of the digit 2.
Sorry, these are not numbers.
Now, shouldn't it be true, by the virtue of these constructions, that A/B = 2, even though A and B are both infinite?
Even if they were numbers: no. We cannot extrapolate from finite number rules onto infinite number rules.
But that would contradict the axiom of choice...
Not all people love the AC ...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 10, 2011
But I must be missing something major here; please explain what that is, if you know.

As word math is not math and as existing texts have been translated and interpreted differently to describe widely varying godly behaviors and attributes, your figures are all erroneousness.

Your mistake is in thinking that word math is math.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2011
Digress much?

What is the point in deriving a logical postulate that there are more non-ghodly universes than ghodly? Enjoy flexing your semantics in public?

Get a room.

Ultimately I think Godel's incompleteness theories will show you that the one text that doesn't fit in your uncountably countable system is the one that describes the universe's true origin. There, I can write a bunch of nothing and waste everyone's time too!
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2011
@Pyle,

You have a point. Though dare I say it, as digressions go this one actually stretched me a bit... But you're right, I'll stop.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2011
To be honest, I would have chimed in yesterday, but it was a pretty good read. Just wish it would have gotten somewhere...
Thrasymachus
1.5 / 5 (8) Feb 10, 2011
Aren't virtually all physorg comment discussions that go beyond ~20 comments digressions? And @otto, insofar as an interpretation of a text can be written down, it is itself a member of the set of possible texts, otherwise, it's not an interpretation. And as far as word math not being math goes, all math is just symbols that stand for words, which stand for ideas. Math is not some special language in which is written the secrets of the universe, it's just human language and human ideas.
DamienS
5 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2011
Math is not some special language in which is written the secrets of the universe, it's just human language and human ideas.

I can't go along with that. Natural languages are a product of our species and do represent human ideas. But mathematics transcends this limitation.

We didn't invent mathematics, we discovered it. Sure, we invented the symbols and notation and we choose which fields to explore and develop, but at its root, mathematics is derived from the physical universe.

Whenever a universe has things in it that cam be counted, there will exist mathematics, whether it's humans that discover it or aliens on distant worlds. Therefore, maths IS special.
frajo
4 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2011
Digress much?
Maths instead of Creationism or Capitalism? Yes :)
What is the point in deriving a logical postulate that there are more non-ghodly universes than ghodly?
What's the point in telling 10 times each day that science is not about proofs but about falsifiability and belief is the realm of non-falsifiability?
Enjoy flexing your semantics in public?
It's about intellectual challenges. Why should one hide one's hobby?
Get a room.
PhysOrg is the right place to enjoy them. Nobody is forced to participate.
Ultimately I think Godel's incompleteness theories will show you that the one text that doesn't fit in your uncountably countable system is the one that describes the universe's true origin.
It's not only one.
There, I can write a bunch of nothing and waste everyone's time too!
It's not your decision when I read your text.
Waste of time? Read about the Banach-Tarski paradox (a consequence of the Axiom of Choice). Sheer suspense.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 11, 2011
And as far as word math not being math goes, all math is just symbols that stand for words, which stand for ideas. Math is not some special language in which is written the secrets of the universe, it's just human language and human ideas.
You expose the depths of your self-deception. Numbers are not words. Words are fuzzy tribble-like objects that propagate and devour all reason like quadrotriticale. Didnt one of your philos tell you this?

For instance, words enable you to believe in nonsense Wünschtraume like free will and the metaphysical, whereas numbers do not. That's why you enjoy fiddling with them so much.

Numbers describe the universe. Words describe peoples desire to escape from the confines of it.
Thrasymachus
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 11, 2011
Quantity is a human idea. Manipulations of quantity are human operations on that human concept. Math appears to be "more special" than regular language because the symbols and operations within the language of math are well-defined a priori. Natural language and the allowable operations or inferences within it are not generally well defined. Math is more useful for describing the natural world because of its precision, not because its symbols somehow represent a transcendent reality where natural language does not.

To put it another way, math is created, not discovered. Empirical truths are discovered, and are thus only known within a confidence interval < 1. Mathematical truths appear to be discovered because humans can't apprehend all the implications of a definition at once, but are not in fact discovered because there is no margin of error in their truths.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 11, 2011
Quantity is a human idea. Manipulations of quantity are human operations on that human concept.
No, quantity is absolute. Ten stars exist whether humans are there to count them or not.
Math is more useful for describing the natural world because of its precision
-Because only it can whereas words cannot.
not because its symbols somehow represent a transcendent reality where natural language does not.
See, now, here is where the self-deception begins (actually it starts back at 'a priori'). Your emotional predisposition starts to spit out words like 'symbols' and 'transcendent' which is like wrapping yourself in your philo cloak and pointy hat, and waving your wand to make something valid when it is not.

These words have meaning like a cloud has edges. Only numbers can describe where day ends and night begins. See? Words are only poetry.
Thrasymachus
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 11, 2011
The number "1" is a word. "1 + 1 = 2" is a sentence. Quantity is not an absolute, because it depends upon how you want to divide up whatever is being observed. You say ten stars, I say 50 solar masses, someone else says 1 cluster. Words are what we use to slice experience up into pieces we can deal with conceptually. Mathematical words are better at this because they are "sharper," i.e. more precise. But the relationship between mathematical concepts is precisely the same as the relationship between the concepts symbolized by natural words.

Math is not some magical language that gives us unique insight into the universe. Observation gives us insight into the universe. Math lets us talk about what we observe more precisely.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 11, 2011
To put it another way, math is created, not discovered.
Like damien says above, Math is a fundamental aspect of universal laws. These laws functioned long before humans were around to try to describe them. Anyone here would tell you this.

Humans realized that words were wholly inadequate and so resorted to numbers, which apply irrespective of the symbols assigned to them. The trouble with your words in particular, is that they have a lot of other esoteric words tacked onto them which most common people like scientists are unaware of and have little use for.

These words create the illusion for you that they have a value which they do not. And when you use them, other people think you are saying things you are not. This is called miscommunication, which you may think is the fault of others, but it's not.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 11, 2011
You say ten stars, I say 50 solar masses, someone else says 1 cluster.
EXACTLY. Those are words trying to describe things which are only adequately and succinctly done using NUMBERS. You have it backwards due to your subconscious word prejudice. This could be due to some deficit in the part of your brain which is responsible for calculating. I believe I have this myself to some extent.

But you do seem to have some preference for numbers, as you seem to prefer 1/5 bitch-slapping people while actively engaged in arguing against them with words. This is like kicking somebody in the shins while asking for directions. Do you fear your words won't be enough to prove your case without using bitchslapping maths to assist you? Perhaps you're just insecure.
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2011
Is the concept of zero "a fundamental aspect of universal laws," or did we just make it up?

Count something without using a non-number word. We have to count "something." That something has to have a "word." Thus, numbers are dependent on "words," no?

On a side note:
Zero and infinity? What's so universally fundamental about either? Prove that either happened at all, ever.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2011
Thras, I think you are (possibly purposely) confusing the language of math with math being a language. DamienS already established that humans created the language, but contended that the underlying "maths" are true in our universe/frame; i.e. discoverable.

Words are, per your view, not as well defined. But you are avoiding the point that the language of math can be just as poor, but the maths themselves are never so.

The comments started with a disagreement over the countabilty of sets. Any well defined system is incomplete/inconsistent. This is a lie...

Math is not so. There is "intuitiveness" that boils down to truth/validity in it.

Sorry about the previous swipe. Frajo, your response to my comment was spot on.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (17) Feb 11, 2011
Count something without using a non-number word. We have to count "something." That something has to have a "word." Thus, numbers are dependent on "words," no?
'Something' is a word. I think in order to 'adequately' 'describe' 'something' you have to start with numbers, not words. Machines would understand this, not people.
Thrasymachus
1.9 / 5 (14) Feb 11, 2011
I downrate nonsense otto, and you're full of it. I'm sorry you're so insecure about it though.

I have no fear of math because I know what it is. It is a created language that is a sub-branch of symbolic logic. Math itself is just logic restricted to operations over quantity. Quantity is always relative, there is no natural size to anything. Rather, the metric is decided beforehand, and then applied to observation, just as what is to be measured is decided beforehand. You don't go to observe something thinking "I don't know what I'm going to measure, or what I'm going to use to measure with, but my math will tell me when I get there." You decide beforehand what you're going to measure and how you're going to measure it, then you make your observation.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2011
Skultch, they're fundamental. Zero is an absence. There is absolutely validity in our universe for absence. It is possible to have zero gold atoms in a cup of water. Absolutely none.

On to infinity, not so clear. Based on our perception, most uses of the word infinity are incorrect. However, when looking at the universe and its lack of bounds, we encounter what appears to be limitlessness. Same when going smaller and smaller, limits are on our perception, not on potential smallness.

The Standard Model throws a limit on t, but I have feeling that isn't going to hold up either so we will potentially have a forever infinity as well. (A much less precise concept given unreality of time.)
Skultch
2 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2011
Count something without using a non-number word. We have to count "something." That something has to have a "word." Thus, numbers are dependent on "words," no?
'Something' is a word. I think in order to 'adequately' 'describe' 'something' you have to start with numbers, not words.


But you had to use words to contemplate and construct the question. So, what is it you are saying? Use only numbers.
Thrasymachus
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 11, 2011
@Pyle The language of math only describes the implications of the concept of quantity. Quantity is an entirely human, and in fact an entirely subjective concept. The size of something and the relationship between sizes is a matter of prior definitions of metrics through which sizes can be established. Mathematical "discoveries" are simply the revelation of implications of the concept of quantity brought under a certain metric that have not yet been apprehended. Scientific discoveries written in math are not mathematical discoveries.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (17) Feb 11, 2011
I downrate nonsense otto, and you're full of it. I'm sorry you're so insecure about it though.
That's more like it. Bitchslapping with words. More honest, more 'human'.
Quantity is always relative, there is no natural size to anything
Care to define 'quantity', 'relative', 'natural', 'size', and 'anything'? Without asking a scientist or mathematician that is?
size of something and the relationship between sizes is a matter of prior definitions of metrics
And yet the people who actually work with these things have no problems doing so without your def to guide them. They build great bldgs and discover great truths without them. Philos discover only more words which satisfies only them. Why is that?
Skultch
5 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2011
Pyle,

There may actually not be an absence of something anywhere. Isn't it still possible, and maybe likely, that when we "look" at "empty" space, no matter how zoomed in, we still see "something." If there's no limit, does that mean that zero is a human concept, independent of reality, and that there IS an infinity and in both directions?

An infinity of nothingness (empty space) is not actually an infinity of "anything" is it? So it could be said that there is no infinity, no?
Thrasymachus
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2011
Even "absence" can only exist in observation by being defined as such. My coffee cup has an absence of coffee in it only because I determined beforehand that coffee is what I am interested in measuring. Science has pretty much determined that if you're looking for *anything* you will always find something, not nothing. Therefore, the concept of "absence" is pretty much falsified as an objective feature of the world. Go looking for nothing, and you'll always find something.
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2011
@Thras: If "The language of math only describes the implications of the concept of quantity" then I would agree with your position. The problem is it doesn't. It goes beyond pure cardinality and explains much deeper relationships.

It seems the detractors of math's transcendence here are caught up in arithmetic rather than seeing the beauty math's language reveals in the universe. Math's language is human and thereby flawed. Math is true.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (21) Feb 11, 2011
There may actually not be an absence of something anywhere.
There is an absence of dogs on mars. There are 0 dogs on mars. There might be something that looks like a dog on mars, but it would not fit the generally accepted, fuzzy word described def of a living, breathing, dog.
Skultch
5 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2011
Math's language is human and thereby flawed. Math is true.


Possibly. Can you explain? The last math class I took was Calc in high school, and that was 15 yrs ago.
Thrasymachus
2.2 / 5 (13) Feb 11, 2011
Sure otto, I'll indulge you. The size of an observed quantity is a comparison between that observation and another observation defined as 1. Observations are always relative to observers, and as the nature of the comparison between observations and the observation defined as 1 is a matter of choice for the observer, the size of any observed quantity is relative to those choices. "Natural" means what you usually take it to mean, not man-made. Since human beings make the observations, the comparisons and the definitions, everything about size is man-made, as opposed to being an intrinsic function of what is being observed. A quantity is any observation that has a size. And anything is any observation or possible observation.
Pyle
4 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2011
Don't get semanticky on me. We have a definition of coffee. It has a molecular recipe. If there are none of the coffee molecules in your cup, there is ZERO coffee, an absence of coffee. It is a real concept. I don't care if you have to define the cup and coffee. You can use any words. The math is zero.

Inifinity, I repeat , not so clear. No, you are right, you probably can't have an infinity of nothingness. But just because you use a word wrong doesn't mean the math of infinity doesn't have true meaning.

Infinity is boundlessness. Can you have an infinite amount of coffee? Depends. Is the universe infinite. So far, the answer is yes. Can you have an infinite amount of coffee in any bounded space? No.

We have come full circle, 2^aleph0 and aleph0^2. Blech!
Thrasymachus
2.1 / 5 (12) Feb 11, 2011
Math is true because it is a matter of logic and definition. Logic is truth preserving. If you start with truth, you keep truth. Math starts with truth because it deals solely with definitions and definitions are true a priori and by fiat.

The transcendence of math appears because of its universal applicability to observation. But this universal applicability should not be surprising because math itself, being nothing more than the concept of quantity brought under a certain metric, is nothing more than the complete set of tools for comparing observations. But the kinds of comparison between observations say absolutely nothing about what is observed. It only says something about who is observing.
Thrasymachus
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2011
I know coffee has a particular molecular recipe, and a particular human definition. That doesn't matter. I can't say "There's nothing in my cup" until I've already decided that the thing I care about is coffee. Because until I've decided what I'm measuring, I can't say anything about how much there is. And as soon as we're not talking about nothing, but about some positive quantity, I can't tell you the size of that quantity until I've decided upon a metric.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2011
Anyway, math's transcendence appears because math is transcendent. Universal applicability is required of math's language because of the truth of math. I keep waiting for the real deal breaker to be thrown in so I can quit, but you guys don't seem to want to go there.

Relativity breaks time, and space, and math. Quantum concepts break everything else and math again. And what's worse is that they don't play well together.

Hawking tried to fix it ad hoc. M-theory, branes, etc. search for the definition. Our language isn't there yet, but the math is still true.

cont.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 11, 2011
Logical positivists:
"The doctrines included the opposition to all metaphysics, especially ontology and synthetic a priori propositions; the rejection of metaphysics not as wrong but as having no meaning; a criterion of meaning based on Ludwig Wittgenstein's early work; the idea that all knowledge should be codifiable in a single standard language of science; and above all the project of "rational reconstruction," in which ordinary-language concepts were gradually to be replaced by more precise equivalents in that standard language."

-They recognized (admitted) the obvious shortcomings of word math and sought to devise something more useful. How far did they get? Nowhere?

The shortcomings still exist. Science has known this for centuries; it was the reason it was founded.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 11, 2011
Hawking tried to fix it ad hoc. M-theory, branes, etc. search for the definition. Our language isn't there yet, but the math is still true.
'Our' language will one day be nothing but math as we transition to some form more in tune with the greater universe. I could put little ' marks around most any word I use here. That shows you how useful words are.
Pyle
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2011
A rock in space. One. A second rock in space collides with it. Two. An interaction. If we know enough about the rocks and their environ - composition, density, relative velocities - we can predict what will happen with math. It is true, observable, provides predictions. This isn't just language. It doesn't matter that we "decided" what to look at. We aren't arguing real, existence, etc. We are talking about the transcendence of math. It exists outside of the human frame, with or without our language imposed on it.

When I defined zero I didn't say there was nothing in your cup. I said there was zero coffee in your cup. You're semantics are still killing me.

Hmmm. Maybe we are arguing existence...
Pyle
4 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2011
Otto!!!!

Godel Godel Godel!!!!!

(Sure I misused him earlier in jest, but Godel proved it! Any system is incomplete! Positivism killed Positivism!)

I quit. We win! (If only in my mind.) (but really, I'll check in later.)

Thrasymachus
1.7 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2011
You defined "zero" as an absence. It makes perfect sense to ask "an absence of what?" In order for there to be an absence of anything in observation, the "of what" has to be decided beforehand. You weren't talking about coffee until I mentioned it.

You want math to be transcendent, that's fine. But I'll only qualify it with this: Math is as transcendent as the human mind. And as for prediction, the formula we use are not mathematical theorems. They are scientific theories. There is a difference. Mathematical theorems are absolutely true, scientific theories are probably true within a margin of error. F=ma, for example, will only give you precise predictions in theory. In an experiment where you test F=ma, you'll find your result always differ slightly from what is predicted. Moreover, F=ma itself was discovered through experiment, not because of any mathematical relationship between F and ma.
Pyle
3 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2011
Thras!, sorry for shouting, you are missing the point (or I am). F=ma was discovered through experiment because there IS IS IS a mathematical relationship between F and ma. (Margin of error, yes I agree, we're not arguing that part cause we are on the same side I think.)

Relativity and quantum breaks it all. But you haven't gone there to make the point that kills all this transcendence nonsense. Maybe you are skirting it. Our language of math includes infinity, but it fails when we apply infinity to observation, for the most part. The 'math', for you Otto, doesn't fail. Just our application of the language.
Pyle
3 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2011
Oh, and on the absence semantic nonsense that you won't give up. We were talking about there being no coffee in your cup. Zero appropriately describes the situation of no coffee in your cup. Alternatively we could use no relative motion being described as zero as well. (More pitfalls there though.) (Zero has cardinality so pretty simple to prove. Why are we arguing it?)

Again, infinity isn't the same and can't be similarly used. Absence is not the opposite of boundless, despite our colloquial use of infinity as the opposite of zero.
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2011
Hmmm. Rethinking it, you were arguing for an infinite absence to be = zero. Hmmm. I'll think on that (read up on it maybe even). Interesting point. This is a lie...

Still, seems more an infinity problem than a failure of zero describing the absence of a particular thing. Bringing infinity into it is what hurts, not the zeroness.
Thrasymachus
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2011
That relationship is not mathematical. A mathematical relationship is 1+1=2 or |E={1,2,3...}|=|N={2,4,6...}|. Mathematical relationships come with proofs. Empirical relationships come with experiments.

And to reiterate, you were talking about absence, in general, as a concept of zero. I introduced my absence of coffee in my coffee cup to make the point that the concept of zero only has physical significance because of what I choose to apply it to. It only has physical application because I decide it does and define its use.

Infinity doesn't even enter into it. Math has universal application in describing observations because math is the set of rules for making descriptions. We are the ones who decide upon that set of rules.
frajo
not rated yet Feb 11, 2011
We have come full circle, 2^aleph0 and aleph0^2.
Perhaps I don't understand what you mean. But 2**aleph-0 denotes the cardinality of the power set of the set of natural numbers. (Which happens to be aleph-1, the cardinality of the set of real numbers, provided AC holds.)

This is completely different from aleph-0**2 which equals aleph-0. (When we interpret N*N as Cartesian product of the set N of natural numbers with itself.) For the set of all pairs of natural numbers is in the same way countable as the set of rational numbers.
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2011
frajo, my point was merely that we were back to debating flavors of infinity, which is where the math/language tangent started. I don't think I share PE's confusion on the two (I just don't go there).

Thras, I concede. We seem to be going in circles. I feel you are arguing that we have defined mathematics as the description of empirical relationships. My point was that there is fundamental truth underlying the empirical relationships that can be described by our language of mathematics. I have, rather sloppily, been calling this truth 'math'. Your position is more correct and I don't disagree with it. I was just being stubborn.
Pyle
3 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2011
Oh wait. I do disagree with this one point. @Thras:
Math is true because it is a matter of logic and definition. Logic is truth preserving. If you start with truth, you keep truth. Math starts with truth because it deals solely with definitions and definitions are true a priori and by fiat.

Incompleteness. It must be Godel day. This is a lie...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (20) Feb 11, 2011
qualify it with this: Math is as transcendent as the human mind.
Neither 'transcendent' nor 'mind' have 'useful' 'definitions'. 'Truth' has no useful def other than scientific- just ask any 2 philos and watch the fur fly and the hot pokers come out.
Godel Godel Godel!!!!!
Gesundheit.
frajo
5 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2011
Zero is an absence.
No. That's too much semantics (coming from the word "absence") piled upon the first step in history to just enlarge the set of natural numbers a tiny bit.

Some human philosophers long ago found that all the ("natural") numbers except the number one had two neighbours, one smaller by one unit, the other larger by one unit. And they pondered over creating an artificial smaller neighbour for the handicapped number one.
Then, centuries of quarrel followed, with one party promoting the new number and the other demonizing it.

While it is harmless to symbolize the meanings of the word "absence" by using the new number, zero, it leads to lots of problems when one tries to define this number by use of the word "absence".

In colloquial terms: The number zero is the first canonical extension of the set of natural numbers.
frajo
4 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2011
Why natural numbers should not be confused with natural language:

Two cats have one more tail than one cat.
One cat has one more tail than zero cats.
Thus, as no cat has three tails, one cat has four tails and two cats have five tails.
Skultch
not rated yet Feb 11, 2011
I get the two rocks in space thing. My question to that is, essentially, the QM phenom. that there isn't really one thing if you look close enough. So, if QM is reality, and this arithmetic we are talking about doesn't match that, then yes, numbers are human concepts independent from reality. IOW, the empirical relationships non-observed objects have could never be accurately described with human math, so math is not transcendent. Or, I'm just not following. If so, I'll stop posting and just read.

Frajo, you are way over my head today. Here:

htDELETEMEtp://www.whattofix.com/images/TwoTailedCat.jpg

htDELETMEtp://our-cats.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/manx_cat.jpg

:)
Thrasymachus
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 11, 2011
I wonder if you know what Godel's Incompleteness Theorem proves? There are actually two incompleteness proofs, the first proves that you can't generate a finite set of axioms from theories that prove basic arithmetic. The second proves that any finite set of axioms that proves basic arithmetic is inconsistent.

Neither of those proofs have anything to do with the applicability of mathematics.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (18) Feb 11, 2011
Two cats have one more tail than one cat.
Otto once had a cat with no tail. Also there are 0 cats on mars. Also
Math starts with truth because it deals solely with definitions and definitions are true a priori and by fiat.
Your buddy Wittgenstein would disagree with that because "The doctrines included the opposition to all metaphysics, especially ontology and synthetic a priori propositions". Fiat that.
DamienS
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2011
Quantity is a human idea.

It certainly is not. Animals have been shown to have a primitive number sense, up to three or four items and can certainly tell the difference between a grouping of a small number of items and a grouping with a larger amount.

Since the rest of your argument is predicated on this erroneous premise, it makes it void.
Mathematical truths appear to be discovered because humans can't apprehend all the implications of a definition at once, but are not in fact discovered because there is no margin of error in their truths.

Sorry, but that is simply rubbish.
Ramael
5 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2011
Life starts everywhere, silly's. It doesn't need a god, or a bible, unless amino acid is another word for god, lol. I don't think so.

We know amino acids form naturally in given environments, hell we know they even form in places like titan's atmosphere. As long as their suspended in water its not hard to watch self assembly begin. And self assembly isn't limited to amino acids either. Plenty of materials do it.

As far as I'm concerned, life is the inevitable outcome of the universe. Where ever there is liquid and naturally forming self assembling molecules, free of corrosive chemical agents, we're going to find some interesting things. Whether we define it as life or not is up to us, but the funny thing is life itself is a vague term.

On the chemical scale there's pretty much no difference between living and non living, except self regulation. Or is it complexity? What makes a sun's corona less alive than a bacterium? or a prion?
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2011
Thras:
Go to Wittgenstein's failure to see my fault in your math to logic statement. Godel's incompleteness isn't limited to arithmetic. The whole math = logic doesn't work because the logical system is inconsistent and incomplete while math is not (I'm semantically sloppy again). Applicability isn't the issue. I never argued that our language of math wasn't applicable. I just disagreed with your premise that math is a human artifice and not discoverable.

frajo, sweet, I thought I was crazy. That cat DID have 4 tails.

Skultch: QM and relativity make quite a mess of it don't they? But it was a fun exercise anyway.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2011
Ach!
Should be Hilbert, not Witt. Sorry. Otto's post got me thinking positivist and I confused things a bit.
frajo
1 / 5 (2) Feb 12, 2011
Quantity is a human idea.
It certainly is not. Animals have been shown to have a primitive number sense, up to three or four items and can certainly tell the difference between a grouping of a small number of items and a grouping with a larger amount.
Animals can measure and count, to a certain extent. They even can use higher mathematical formulae, like spiders and leaf cutter ants. They are astonishing measuring devices.
But they don't have the ability to step up from the number or size of their objects of interest to the pure number concept; they lack abstraction capacity.

Humans have this capacity. Every human baby has the capacity to learn every human language. A baby from an indigenous tribe whose members don't have words for numbers larger than five is able to study university level mathematics if raised accordingly.
A bonobo baby not.
frajo
not rated yet Feb 12, 2011
The second proves that any finite set of axioms that proves basic arithmetic is inconsistent.
To be precise: The second incompleteness theorem shows that the consistency of certain axiomatic systems of arithmetics cannot be proven by the system.
DamienS
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2011
Animals can measure and count, to a certain extent. They even can use higher mathematical formulae, like spiders and leaf cutter ants. They are astonishing measuring devices.
But they don't have the ability to step up from the number or size of their objects of interest to the pure number concept; they lack abstraction capacity.

Yeah, I didn't say otherwise. It's just a matter of intelligence that is the determining factor in mathematical discovery, starting with the basics like quantity and counting.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (18) Feb 12, 2011
Animals can measure and count, to a certain extent. They even can use higher mathematical formulae, like spiders and leaf cutter ants. They are astonishing measuring devices.
But they don't have the ability to step up from the number or size of their objects of interest to the pure number concept; they lack abstraction capacity.
What makes you think you know this to be true?
Otto_the_Magnificent
4.8 / 5 (17) Feb 12, 2011
"The number domain is a prime example where strong evidence points to an evolutionary endowment of abstract domain-specific knowledge in the brain because there are parallels between number processing in animals and humans."
http
://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9720604

Little doggy knows 1000 words, can deduce the name of an unknown object-
http
://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6479QAJuz8&feature=player_embedded

"These results indicate that capuchin monkeys can indeed reason about symbols. However, as they do so, capuchins also experience the cognitive burden of symbolic representation, and in this respect they appear to behave similarly to young children."
http
://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080610212404.htm

-And might I add that researchers will acknowledge that we do not yet know all there is to know about animal behavior and capability. The references above do give good indications that some animals do, in fact, have some capacity for human-like abstraction.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (4) Feb 12, 2011
That is in Genesis two and it has man created before the animals, contradicting Genesis one which has man created last


Reading comprehension problems eh?

Wow. You can't even tell the truth about things that are common knowledge.

Genesis 2 is not written in Chronological order, because chronology is not the topic of this passage as it was in the first chapter.

Wow. Lack at least 5th grade reading comprehension, do you?

What qualifies you to even comment on the subject then?
ScientistAmauterEnthusiast
5 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2011
Your god doesn't exist until you can prove duke nukem isn't the true god.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2011
Reading comprehension problems eh?
Your problem
can't even tell the truth about things that are common knowledge
I don't care what you claim is common knowledge, especially since so many disagree with you. Many think the Bible is litterally true.
Genesis 2 is not written in Chronological order
And Jehovah told your that? If it means something other than what it actually says then it isn't worth much. There is nothing in the Bible that supports you. It is not my fault that the Bible has errors.
because chronology is not the topic of this passage as it was in the first chapter.
Thank you for you OPINION that is not based on what the Bible actually says.
Lack at least 5th grade reading comprehension, do you?
Must be due the Nuns.
What qualifies you to even comment on the subject then?
I read what it says without making up stuff like you just did.

Of course it is forbidden to rewrite the Bible so why are you trying to change what was written?

Ethelred
Pyle
3 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2011
Nice.

Here we are having a nice conversation about whether mathematics represents a reality independent of the human condition, and in walks the King of Algebra with an incorrect refutation of what page in Genesis the noodly appendage doodled a doggie.

Argh! Gotta love comment boards. Way to go Ethel the troll feeder. Combatting ignorance under even the most impossible conditions.
ubavontuba
1.7 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2011
Life starts everywhere, silly's. It doesn't need a god, or a bible, unless amino acid is another word for god, lol. I don't think so.
This simply isn't true. There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups.

At best, we've managed to string together a tiny bit of RNA in a laboratory.

http:/www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/05/ribonucleotides/
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2011
Its most likely that asteroids with water onboard coliding in certain conditions have created amino acids in water, possibly with other basic elements joined and isotopes. It is just a matter of diversity of these acids and chemistry and violent events in earths past that has created basic building blocks for life as we know it today from there on it has evolved by oppertunity and chance.

To deny this is simply denying reality. Even if god planted it this way, it is still our reality. And if god really existed did he/she/it want us wonder or fight about it? I dont think so. For me the bible is just a fairy tale or a philosophic tale. But is amusing to see how hyprocritical believers are, do they even realize their stupidity... even coming to a website like this...
frajo
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
Life starts everywhere, silly's. It doesn't need a god, or a bible, unless amino acid is another word for god, lol. I don't think so.
This simply isn't true.
You don't know whether it's true or not.
There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups.
This does not imply that there never will.
ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
You don't know whether it's true or not.
If the statement "Life starts everywhere..." were true, then abiogenesis would be a typical and verifiable occurence.
This does not imply that there never will.
But until such time as it does occur, my statement "There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups." remains valid.
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
You don't know whether it's true or not.
If the statement "Life starts everywhere..." were true, then abiogenesis would be a typical and verifiable occurence.
Do you really want to start another philosophical tug-of-war, this time about the definitions of "life", "start", and "everywhere"?

This does not imply that there never will.
But until such time as it does occur, my statement "There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups." remains valid.
Yes. I just felt your statement was suffering a bit from incompleteness and completed it.
Otto_the_Magnificent
4.7 / 5 (14) Feb 14, 2011
This simply isn't true. There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups.
Which of course doesnt mean that it isnt true, but that we have not yet found it. We havent looked everywhere you know? Hell, at present we can only study bugs we can culture in a lab, which isnt very many.
But until such time as it does occur, my statement "There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups." remains valid.
-Perhaps, but your statement:
This simply isn't true.
-Does not. It does however stand as a typical example of how weak-willed godlovers cant wait for scientists to do their work (and prove them wrong yet again.)
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
Do you really want to start another philosophical tug-of-war, this time about the definitions of "life", "start", and "everywhere"?
All three are already well defined. If the writer meant something outside of the common definitions, she should have stipulated so.
Yes. I just felt your statement was suffering a bit from incompleteness and completed it.
It stood on its own just fine, thank you.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
At the risk of repeating myself, where else have we really looked beyond this planet regarding the existence of life?

frajo's points were correct. You have no data points refuting abiogenesis just as the original commenter has no points to support that "Life starts everywhere".

Regarding verifiable abiogenesis, all we have is Earth, and the data much more strongly supports abiogensis than anything else, especially non falsifiable actions by the noodly appendage.

frajo, nice turn on incompleteness. I got a chuckle out of that given the earlier posts.
frajo
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
Do you really want to start another philosophical tug-of-war, this time about the definitions of "life", "start", and "everywhere"?
All three are already well defined.
"Life" is not well-defined. There is not even consensus whether "life" is "life as we know it" or "life as we don't yet know it".
"Start" is equally weakly defined. Which process should be assumed to constitute the "start of life"?
And "everywhere" could mean "in every stellar system" or "in every corner of the local biosphere".
If the writer meant something outside of the common definitions, she should have stipulated so.
Not every writer does what she should do.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
At the risk of repeating myself, where else have we really looked beyond this planet regarding the existence of life?
What's "beyond this planet" have to do with it?
You have no data points refuting abiogenesis
When did I refute abiogenesis? I just argued with an assertion that it happens everywhere.
Clearly just as the original commenter has no points to support that "Life starts everywhere".
See? You support my contention, so why are you trying to raise an argument?
Regarding verifiable abiogenesis, all we have is Earth, and the data much more strongly supports abiogensis than anything else, especially non falsifiable actions by the noodly appendage.
What data? Abiogenesis requires unrealistic complexity to form even the most rudimentary life forms. Try as we might, we've been unable to duplicate this supposedly inevitable process. Why?
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
If the statement "Life starts everywhere..." were true, then abiogenesis would be a typical and verifiable occurence.

Where would abiogenesis be a "typical and verifiable occurrence" if not on other planets? Non-planetary life is a possibility too, but we don't really have any point of reference or clue what it would be like so...

If you weren't refuting abiogenesis I misinterpreted your posts. Hmmm...
What data? Abiogenesis requires unrealistic complexity...

Guess I wasn't totally wrong to think you were refuting abiogenesis after all. The data is the fossil record. Increasing complexity and extrapolation based upon the evidence of evolution.

We will probably never know since the evidence was likely eaten, but we are understanding more and more each year. For instance, clay bubbles possibly providing shelter for the development of more complex molecules...
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
"Life" is not well-defined. There is not even consensus whether "life" is "life as we know it" or "life as we don't yet know it".
LIFE:
1.
a. The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

http:/www.thefreedictionary.com/life
"Start" is equally weakly defined. Which process should be assumed to constitute the "start of life"?
All of them, as listed above.
]And "everywhere" could mean "in every stellar system" or "in every corner of the local biosphere".
In the context of Ramael's post, "everywhere" would be defined as: "Where ever there is liquid and naturally forming self assembling molecules, free of corrosive chemical agents..."

This would obviously include Earth, today. So where is all this supposedly "inevitable" abiogenesis happening?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (18) Feb 14, 2011
Why?
-is not a question in your mind but an answer. 'Because we have not yet found it.' -would be the proper answer to the proper question 'Why?' which you did not ask.
unrealistic complexity
Your god requires unrealistic and improbable complexity many many orders of magnitude beyond the mere creation of 'life'. We have a great deal of evidence for the existance of life buy absolutely none for the existance of god.

And yet people like you still believe in it. Why?
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
Where would abiogenesis be a "typical and verifiable occurrence" if not on other planets? Non-planetary life is a possibility too, but we don't really have any point of reference or clue what it would be like so...
What, You got a prejudice against Earth? Why isn't it verifiably happening right now, on Earth?
If you weren't refuting abiogenesis I misinterpreted your posts. Hmmm...
Obviously.
Guess I wasn't totally wrong to think you were refuting abiogenesis after all. The data is the fossil record. Increasing complexity and extrapolation based upon the evidence of evolution.

We will probably never know since the evidence was likely eaten, but we are understanding more and more each year.
So why isn't it apparent "everywhere" on earth, today?
For instance, clay bubbles possibly providing shelter for the development of more complex molecules...
So where are the clay bubble protocells that should exist, now?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (19) Feb 14, 2011
This would obviously include Earth, today. So where is all this supposedly "inevitable" abiogenesis happening?
Again, the obvious answer is 'some place where we havent looked yet in the proper manner in which to detect it.' There are a LOT of those places you know. It may only happen intermittently, or maybe it only ever happened once, although this is extremely unlikely. We should know the answer eventually, at any rate.
So why isn't it apparent "everywhere" on earth, today?
See above.
So where are the clay bubble protocells that should exist, now?
See above.

Come on scooby ask a hard one.
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2011
For some reason I keep being tempted to reply to
@ubavontuba -- but before I do something that pointless, I have the question: Is there anyone who isn't just like him who takes him seriously?
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
The Gaia Theorie has a good definiton of life,
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
-is not a question in your mind but an answer. 'Because we have not yet found it.' -would be the proper answer to the proper question 'Why?' which you did not ask.
You're making a false assumption that it exists to be found, which is clearly not known to be true.
Your god requires unrealistic and improbable complexity many many orders of magnitude beyond the mere creation of 'life'. We have a great deal of evidence for the existance of life buy absolutely none for the existance of god.

And yet people like you still believe in it. Why?
And you're engaging in a strawman argument (an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position). When, in this conversation, had I mentioned religion?
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
gvgoebel: Touche!

You may now call me a hypocrite. I guess I kind of adopted this article and didn't want the thread to end.

One last retort to uba:
One reason we might not see additional abiogenesis on Earth is that the niches are full of life. Based on the current hypotheses regarding abiogenesis, it takes time. Anything trying to start out now would be out performed by the life that has over a three billion year head start.
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
You may now call me a hypocrite.


Oh, I don't enjoy calling people names. I don't mind needling the lunatic fringers a bit, though, not that they do anything but keep on barking in response.

ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2011
One last retort to uba:
One reason we might not see additional abiogenesis on Earth is that the niches are full of life. Based on the current hypotheses regarding abiogenesis, it takes time. Anything trying to start out now would be out performed by the life that has over a three billion year head start.

That's a cop-out, which presumes there is no niche for protolife to develop. This would be tantamount to stating something like; there is no niche for evolution to fill.

And clearly, the clay vesicles in the article are a profound refutation to your argument. I mean, it's not like other life forms inhabit them, or eat them, or anything.

And seriously; clay, and bubbles, and water, and organic molecules are quite common on Earth, aren't they?
Pyle
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
That's a cop-out, which presumes there is no niche for protolife to develop.

A cop out? How so? Life is present in almost all of the niches here on Earth that we believe would support life. I haven't spent much time thinking about it though, so if you can name a few open niches with abundant organic compounds...

And from the article:
The researchers are also interested to see whether these clay vesicles can, indeed, be found in the natural environment today.

We haven't looked. Nice try though. (last one, but that was too easy.)
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
A cop out? How so? Life is present in almost all of the niches here on Earth that we believe would support life. I haven't spent much time thinking about it though, so if you can name a few open niches with abundant organic compounds...
How about in beds of organic clay, regularly washed by water, full of microbubbbles?
We haven't looked. Nice try though. (last one, but that was too easy.)
So it's your assertion no one has ever bothered to look at clay samples under a microscope? And no one has ever seen any microbubbles in this clay? Really?

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (20) Feb 14, 2011
You're making a false assumption that it exists to be found, which is clearly not known to be true.
You're making a false ass-umption that it doesn't exist to be found, which is clearly not known to be true. And you're begging the question.
When, in this conversation, had I mentioned religion?
So change your nick and everybody here won't know that you're uba the preaching godman fanatic. Which would be just as dishonest as you asking leading questions while everybody knows what conclusion they're leading to (ummmm would that be.... SATAN??? -No, intelligent design dummy)
And no one has ever seen any microbubbles in this clay? Really?
There's LOTS of clay in the world, all different kinds, in different environments. This is a new postulate-something we haven't been looking for.
Pyle
3 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2011
How about in beds of organic clay, regularly washed by water, full of microbubbbles?

Right. Because there wouldn't be any life there to compete with. Good one!
So it's your assertion no one has ever bothered to look at clay samples under a microscope? And no one has ever seen any microbubbles in this clay? Really?

No, I made no assertions. I merely quoted the article that paraphrased the researchers. I suppose other people could have looked in clay microbubbles for complex organic molecules, but this is the first time I have heard it suggested. I am going to stick with, we haven't looked there yet.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
You're making a false ass-umption that it doesn't exist to be found, which is clearly not known to be true. And you're begging the question.
I made no such assumption. I merely asked a question.
So change your nick and everybody here won't know that you're uba the preaching godman fanatic. Which would be just as dishonest as you asking leading questions while everybody knows what conclusion they're leading to (ummmm would that be.... SATAN??? -No, intelligent design dummy)
Another strawman. It's quickly becoming apparent that you have no idea what the conversation is about.

I've only asserted that Ramael's statement: "Life starts everywhere..." is not verified.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2011
Right. Because there wouldn't be any life there to compete with. Good one!
Since when has such an environment been so permeated with life that all the organic compounds are incorporated in living organisms?

Heck, there are whole "seas" of organic compounds in contact with gas permeated clays that are relatively lifeless (it's called "oil").

frajo
5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2011
One reason we might not see additional abiogenesis on Earth is that the niches are full of life. Based on the current hypotheses regarding abiogenesis, it takes time. Anything trying to start out now would be out performed by the life that has over a three billion year head start
Yes. Where "being outperformed" usually equates "being eaten".

It is very difficult to find places on this planet which are not already claimed by the biosphere.
Archaea:
The third domain besides bacteria and eukaryota. They prosper on organic compounds, on sulfur, ammonia, metal ions, hydrogen gas, sunlight, carbon dioxide; they are tolerating salt, 120 degree Celsius, organic solvents, extremely acidic mines (ARMAN). Traces exist in 3.8 billion years old shales.
From their POV today's low temperatures are extreme.
One meter below the ocean bottom and deeper they make up the majority of living matter. They might contribute 20 percent of the biomass.
Lots of more details in Wikipedia on "archaea".
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2011
I've only asserted that Ramael's statement: "Life starts everywhere..." is not verified.
I think the statement was more than a little over the top and just a tad hyperbolic.

Life does NOT start everywhere. It might be able to start in a LOT of places where there is no life yet and there is plenty of resources, energy and TIME.

I am pretty sure it started on Earth somewhere. I suspect that it started in tidal pools others are fond of black smokers but I don't see that as probable myself. The clay idea is interesting but at the moment I don't see much going for it besides catalysis and you can have that in a tide pool with a clay bottom.

But I am with Pyle on the reason we don't see sponteous life today is the we already have life in place. No free floating resources as that stuff has been eaten long ago.

Sometimes people want to say the other guy is wrong so much that they just say the first thing that comes to mind and never mind it actually making any sense.

Ethelred
gvgoebel
5 / 5 (4) Feb 15, 2011
But I am with Pyle on the reason we don't see sponteous life today is the we already have life in place. No free floating resources as that stuff has been eaten long ago.


Darwin said the same thing in his private "warm little pond" speculation. It might be noted just how HARD it is to set up a perfectly sterile environment or prevent contamination of biosamples.

The contrarian logic is like saying: "If the oceans were REALLY formed early in Earth's history, then why don't we see them forming now?" Considering the biosphere has a greater extent than the oceans, covering the entire Earth down to a considerable depth in the ground -- BTW, oil deposits are not sterile, they can support a range of interesting microorganisms -- that's not a stretch of a comparison.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2011
Ethelred:
You give some people too much credit. Oftentimes I have found here that one false statement becomes the proof that some crank or godder is right about whatever pet theory or fairy tale they support.

Ramael's statement was incorrect. The subsequent attack on abiogenesis was also incorrect, veiled though it appeared. I do admit to reading into who was making the argument as much as the argument itself though.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2011
Ramael's statement was incorrect.
Which is all I've been saying!
The subsequent attack on abiogenesis was also incorrect, veiled though it appeared.
I made no such attack. I only asserted that Ramael's statement: "Life starts everywhere..." is not verified ...as you, yourself, have just admitted!
I do admit to reading into who was making the argument as much as the argument itself though.
So you're saying you argued from a personal point of view, without regard to the science? Really?

Otto wants to argue religion where no religion was being discussed, and you want to argue against the science because you have a negative opinion of someone you obviously don't know. Have I inadvertently stepped into a parallel universe ...or something?
beelize54
1 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2011
My private bet is, this system cannot serve as the first living cells from simple reason: the first cell didn't need the protective environment, but competitive environment, which enabled the fast paced generation cycle (for example the free droplets at the coastal tides). The fast shaking and repetitive splitting of growing droplets is what enables fast mutations in mixture of chemicals.

The organism in protective environment are evolving slower - compare the rather primitive sharks, evolving at the bottom of oceans in quiet. They're well adapted to their environment, but they cannot compete with higher organisms in complexity because of low speed of their evolution.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2011
You give some people too much credit.
No. If a person that is usually an idiot says something that is right for once I see no reason to act as they were wrong yet again. It is easy for Cranks to be right when they are disagreeing with someone that is wrong.

Life doesn't start everywhere and I am not going to pretend that it does just because I usually am arguing against Uvavontuba.
The subsequent attack on abiogenesis was also incorrect
I am not sure that he was actually attacking abiogenesis in this thread. It was hard to tell as his posts seemed to contradict each other from one to the next. Part of it may have been sloppy writing.
I do admit to reading into who was making the argument as much as the argument itself though.
I TRY to keep that to a minimum BUT some people, Quantum oracle, tend to make one post after the next where he discusses the Universe as if he thinks it is old then he makes some blatantly YEC remark.

Ethelred
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2011
Oi! Now I am all defensive. Oh well. At the risk of being seen as an argumentative person(and I am)... To me, this seemed a classic creationist attack on abiogenesis:
This simply isn't true. There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups.
At best, we've managed to string together a tiny bit of RNA in a laboratory.

The thread since then has been a bait and switch. I have stated repeatedly that I disagree with Ramael's comment. I did so in my first response to uba's comment.

This thread is too long. I just found myself agreeing with zephir's point. But he may be overlooking the bubbles' potential use as an incubator. Good point though.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2011
Oi! Now I am all defensive. Oh well. At the risk of being seen as an argumentative person(and I am)... To me, this seemed a classic creationist attack on abiogenesis:
It wasn't. It was an argument against a false statement. I even provided a nice reference. And, I'm NOT an ID'er!
The thread since then has been a bait and switch.
"Bait and switch?" What are you reading? I just made an assertion against a false claim.
I have stated repeatedly that I disagree with Ramael's comment.
I count one time, before Ethel called you out.
I did so in my first response to uba's comment.
You mean the one where I asked why you're raising an argument? And from which you continued to argue anyway?
This thread is too long. I just found myself agreeing with zephir's point. But he may be overlooking the bubbles' potential use as an incubator. Good point though.
Veiled insults and then grudging validation?

Why don't you lose the attitude and stick to the science.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2011
Oh well. At the risk of being seen as an argumentative person(and I am)..
Oh my what a wonde... tragedy. I am shocked, shocked I tell you. That argumentative people should frequent this establishment. Ric, I am going to have to close this thread.
To me, this seemed a classic creationist attack on abiogenesis:
Well yes.
This simply isn't true. There has been no verifiable case of abiogenesis (spontaneous life) from modern, inanimate chemical soups.
Classic Creationism or not it IS true.
At best, we've managed to string together a tiny bit of RNA in a laboratory.
Not quite classic, amino acids would be classic. That sort of post was why I said he was all over the place on the subject. Which does not make it a false statement.
This thread is too long. I just found myself agreeing with zephir's point.
Even a stopped wind blows some good twice a day.

Ethelred
Paljor
not rated yet Feb 18, 2011
setting: fred on a couch with a laptop. uncle jack sitting next to him, both reading these questions...

Fred: why don't the trolls just go away and leave us alone uncle jackie?

Uncle jack: because they have no other things to do fred. they don't have a life outside making people on this site mad.

join the movement SFT (stop feeding trolls)

yes i am a hypocrite, just so you know.

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