Odds of other life in the Universe (Page 7)
Corwin: That's an optimistic concept, but essentially flawed. A sizable asteroid would require a tremendous amount of force to nudge its course. And blowing it to pieces would just mean we'd have many smaller asteroid fragments impacting into us rather than one big one, but do the math and the overall kinetic energy would remain the same.
Hollywood used the idea of atomic weapons to create "thrust" to nudge the course of an asteroid... but in the vacuum of space a nuclear detonation creates only heat and light, not explosive force. You'd melt a hole into it, but nothing else.
When a nuclear bomb explodes on the surface of the Earth, most of the blast is a result of the bomb's reaction with the atmosphere. It's an "energy source", NOT a source of thrust in itself.
Another problem with that idea... we may not have fair warning. If we see it coming that's fine, but it could blind-side us if it was coming from the direction of the Sun. We would need years of warning to even attempt to divert it, not hours or days.
We have to settle with the fact that it WILL happen, it's only a matter of time. The Universe is a cosmic billiard table / shooting gallery, and no planet is safe over the long run. Which is why Arthur C Clarke made that statement regarding not all being here on this planet when it happens.
kittybobo34: Agreed, our warning will be short. A good reason to have these little thruster bots up there and waiting, possibly parked at the la grange points. Another idea is a rail gun, we could pepper an incoming asteroid, that accuracy would be tough, but it wouldnt take much to push it else where.
Blackshoes: Ceres would only need a little nudge . Not likely to happen or even likely to strike the Earth.
Yet: it's large enough to do the Job
Evelyn99: Perhaps the small fragments will just start orbiting earth if it get destroyed early enough
Corwin: Ceres is a dwarf-planet in a stable orbit in the Asteroid Belt, and is no danger to Earth, and would require one HELL of a lot more than a "little nudge" to significantly alter that orbit.
The dangerous objects are the ones that come screaming in from the Kuiper Belt on "cometary" orbital paths. They travel at extremely high velocities that increase in speed as they fall closer to the Sun, and are either going to sail right past us, or hit us directly.
This is why we don't have a bunch of tiny moons orbiting the Earth as a result of captured comets or asteroids.
Corwin: Oh yeah. Ceres isn't merely your run-of-the-mill asteroid; it's classified as a "Dwarf Planet", and at 950 km in diameter it's over 1/4 the diameter of our own Moon.
Here's a good photo of it ---> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ceres_-_RC3_-_Haulani_Crater_(22381131691)_(cropped).jpg
"Royally screwed" is an understatement. The Earth would be smashed to bits, possibly reforming into a new planet sometime in the future. Thankfully Ceres is safely parked in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Not to say that something that large might not be in a cometary orbit that takes it out to the Kieper Belt and back (maybe rounding the Sun every 10,000 or 100,000 years ) and might find it's way into our path.
It's believed that something like this happened here once before about 4 billion years ago when a Dwarf Planet collided with the proto-Earth, smashed both planets apart, and the debris that was left over formed into our present Earth/Moon system. But in the early formative stages of our solar-system, collisions of that magnitude were more common. Not as likely today.
The asteroid that caused the KT Extinction 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs (and 95% of every other living thing) was only (only) the size of Rhode Island, but still a "planet-killer", and impacts like that happen on a regular basis here on Earth.
Of course when I say "regular" I'm speaking relative to the geologic time-span... like every 50 to 100 million years.
But... 65 million years since the last one... the clock is ticking.
kittybobo34: Hopefully we will be ready when it comes again, heard a lot of ideas, but I think the little AI thruster robots would be best.
lgs1013: Evelyn, I agree wholeheartedly with your earlier assertion. It is a mathematical impossibility that a universe which is infinite would not support an infinite variety of life. We are not alone.
kittybobo34: Have to agree, I think there is life where ever there is liquid water. Intelligent life however would be very very rare.
Corwin: Sorry for correcting you on this, lgs1013, but the Universe is NOT infinite... but it IS very very very very very LARGE. Large enough I would think.
And I agree with Kitty... I think if there's liquid water present, then "life as we know it" will exist.
And yes, intelligent life is probably somewhat rare, but on the flip-side of that coin, I think it might possibly be "inevitable" given enough time. It's the "time" needed that is probably rare, as the Universe is a pretty harsh and unforgiving environment.
Intelligence here on Earth is basically the end-product of 3.5 billion years of a "predator/prey" relationship between species... all of us doing our best to "out-smart" the other for the privilege of existing and reproducing.
I imagine that this agenda would be similar in ANY ecosystem that evolves.
Corwin: I'm reminded of Saturday morning cartoons.... Tom vs. Jerry... Coyote vs. Road Runner... Buggs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd...
... the "Laws" of Physics seem to get turned on their side in those cartoons, like an "observation-based reality"... like how gravity only takes hold when they REALIZE that they've stepped over the edge of the cliff...
... but "Art imitates Life", and those cartoons likely reflect a mirror-image of the "struggle for existence" more than we realize.
If a species only had to sit in one place, with available food supplies within easy reach, and with no predators to evade... intelligence would be "unnecessary".
Corwin: So the point I'm getting at... if life exists at all, given enough time, intelligence will eventually follow.
Where life exists, something will inevitably evolve to prey on that life... and then that prey will have to "out-smart" the predator to exist... the predator will have to "one-up" those smarts if THEY have any chance of survival... and the effect spirals until we have a species like us...
... who stares at the sky and wonders who we are, and where we came from, and whether there are "others like us" somewhere out there in that vast expanse.
You'd think there HAS to be, right?
Corwin: There's a very dark message in that if you really think about it... if we DO get visited by an advanced alien species, who's to say that they would be "friendly"?
If advanced intelligence is a result of "competition", then this hypothetical advanced alien species would likely be predatory in nature.... like Humans are.
We're the most dangerous species that has ever existed on this planet, which is why we find ourselves on the "top of the food-chain".
kittybobo34: Corwin, totally agree, it makes a difference if the intelligent life is herbivorous, carnivorous, or Omnivorous. Think what it would be like if something like Elephants were intelligent, they would pretty much ignore us unless we had something they wanted., or like cats, they would live to kill. Point is their position in their own ecology would determine how they feel about competition.
lgs1013: Corwin, you make a compelling argument. I never thought of higher intelligence as a product of competition, but you may be onto something. Like genetic Darwinism.
kittybobo34: Not only that, but evolution doesnt give a species something it doesnt need. Intelligence is expensive, brains consume a huge amount of energy and resources. For a species to develop more brain capacity than is needed to run the body, there must be significant disadvantage in the environment. In our case the first early humans were so few in number that a genetic error nearly did us all in. Our muscles are almost 5 times weaker than other animals. We had to get smart to survive. Neanderthal didn't appear to have that error. Their thinking was animal like too. Their camp sites were like a mess,, like a nest of racoons lived there.
(Edited by kittybobo34)