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Carbon based Life vs. Plasma based Life.

  1. Sep 24, 2014 #1
    • copy of posts from other places, topic locked
    Life based on carbon needs very especial conditions to thrive, life on earth is a clear example of that. Lots of time and research have been dedicated trying to find carbon based life elsewhere on the Universe, but that search may be too narrow because that search assumes that life can only be based on carbon.

    The genesis of Life somehow appears to contradicts the second law of thermodynamics(locally, it is known that the law holds in the system under consideration), this law in essence state that: the degree of disorder or randomness(entropy) in our Universe always is increasing, but Life is characterized by an increase in order( a decrease in entropy ). It appears that when “complex” systems are considered then some “emergent” properties are present that can not be explained by consideration of basic principles. The emergency/genesis of carbon based Life is such an emergent property.

    It will be very naïve to think that these emerging properties are the absolute domain of chemical reactions( carbon based/organic chemical reactions ), complex plasmas also are subject to the same emergent properties of self-organization, as it is explained in the 2008 book: Elementary Physics of Complex plasmas: http://en.bookfi.org/book/455683 [Broken], so Life based on plasma could be a real possibility.

    If plasma based life is a reality, then that kind of life may have been present in our Universe since very early after the Big Ban and if plasma based life follows more or less the same principles that carbon based life, then plasma based life forms had plenty of time to expand all over the Universe. Plasma based life forms can exist in “empty” space, there is nothing practically that can slow down their expansion in any direction.

    Carbon based life forms could have not emerged very early in our Universe because the basic elements for carbon based life forms are created inside stars, so that implies that several billions years have to pass before these elements are abundant enough for carbon based life forms to be a reality. It could be argued( The Anthropic Principle ) that for us to be here the Universe needs to be as old as it is now, but that argument do not applies to plasma based life forms. So if that is the case plasma based life forms could be pervasive all over the Universe. We could be missing something that may be in our own backyard and we are not seeing it because we are not looking for that.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2014 #2


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    Have you ever cleaned your room? Put a puzzle together? Then you must have violated the 2nd law of thermodynamics!!! This is an incredibly pervasive and stubborn misconception that the creationist movement has trotted out time and again to combat naturalistic proposals of abiogenesis. A cursory understanding of thermodynamics -- one obtainable in a college freshman physics class -- will provide the answer to this "deep" concern -- in a closed system, entropy either increases or remains constant. Is the Earth a closed system?
  4. Sep 24, 2014 #3


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    Your view on entropy is a bit rigid. Complexity should not be confused with a decrease in entropy. Stars evolve from primordial gas clouds. From stars come metals, which obviously increases complexity of the chemistry of the universe, but, does not decrease entropy. A better view on entropy is as an avenue for the release of potential energy. Primordial hydrogen has very high potential energy that is released via fusion by stars. Similarly, life is an energy sink for potential energy from the environment.
  5. Sep 24, 2014 #4

    It looks like you did not really undertook my point and you are cherry picking/building a straw man that you now think that you can destroy easily, but the mention on entropy was just a cursory, very secondary idea on the main topic at hand, and I did even explicitly said: "(locally, it is known that the law holds in the system under consideration)", but you forgot that conveniently, it looks like you missed the whole point.

    Let me rephrase it here for your information: Recent developments in the physics of complex plasmas strongly suggest that complex plasmas also exhibit the same self-organization tendencies that complex carbon based soups exhibit, even more( I really recommend you to read the mentioned book ) there is this striking fact: "that the description of electrostatics of DNA is surprisingly similar to that used in complex plasmas". So from that is not very far fetched to consider the real possibility of LIFE based on plasma and the argument given above follows. There is not creationism here, I am far from that, just simple and elementary inferences that maybe you with a freshman physics class could understand, but any fresh mind from high school or even elementary school could follow easily.
  6. Sep 24, 2014 #5
    On a very broad view, since we have yet to discover any life outside our own very narrow environment (we even found it rather shocking that extremophiles could exist and we have but scratched the surface) we cannot confirm or deny that DNA or something extremely similar is the only basis for Life. It has always been, and will likely be for at least a decade or so more, "Life As We Know It" . "When all you have is nails, everything starts looking like a hammer".

    Speaking of "nails", while it is essential for scientists/engineers etc. to "keep things nailed down" and not get lost in too much speculation to remain practical and useful, imagination and stretching the boundaries of the hypothetical is also an important component of discovery or we risk stagnation.

    I don't know enough about Plasma, or Life for that matter, to be able to say that Plasma Life is an impossibility. I do know enough about entropy that the overall level in the Universe increasing over time does not disallow localized areas that decrease. It is a dynamic process. Frankly, I wonder why it is even considered a necessary component of considering lifeforms. I would hope that some who know more on Plasma and Life than I can weigh in on such a fascinating subject. It may be well beyond our present understanding that makes it less than Hard Science in a practical sense, but I see no reason that we cannot begin to attempt to consider what we know and what we don't know to further our understanding while still applying Rules of Evidence and not mere speculation.
  7. Sep 24, 2014 #6


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    I didn't miss the point because I didn't read any further than the "life violates the 2nd law" trope. No straw man here -- I responded appropriately to your claim that I quoted. Read your quote in my earlier reply if you've forgotten what you wrote.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2014
  8. Sep 24, 2014 #7
    So, jeremyjr, do you see why saddling your main thrust with such a broad and contentious stroke (even if an aside) as "can not be explained" (not to mention the use of Bold on full text that feels rather heavy handed) causes others to balk? Don't get offended. Just stick to the main question, don't come off like your trying to shout, and your responses received may be more to your liking.
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