[ExI] NASA tease on SETI find

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Dec 3 17:27:59 UTC 2010


From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Dan.
Subject: Re: [ExI] NASA tease on SETI find


.On the other hand, I would expect arsenic to be incorporated into tissues.
I don't see anything earth-shattering about this finding. It's not like the
central theory of biochemistry up to this point was something that utterly
and definitively ruled out arsenic. In fact, to me, not having arsenic in
the biochemistry of most Earth life seems more like an accident of history.


This is an interesting case because arsenic is actually so chemically
similar to phosphorus, yet it is so nearly universally toxic to life that it
often cannot even be used as a pesticide: highly effective but also too
dangerous to the personnel applying the stuff.




.Are you being serious here too? Did you completely rule out slightly
different biochemistries? Were you estimating the number of places life
might arise or spread to based on estimates of how many places might have
plentiful arsenic? And what were your estimates? Have you now doubled the
number of such places? Tripled them? Etc.?...


Not so much that I ruled out alternate life chemistries, but rather we have
too few examples of it.  When we talk about uploading, we are actually
talking about an alternate life chemistry in a sense.  Any actual example of
it is very exciting.




. This sounds almost like a promotional stunt to justify funding or keep
NASA in the news than anything else. I mean here the way the story was
played up -- not the actual find.)  Regards,  Dan


Certainly there was plenty of hype surrounding the announcement, but I can
forgive NASA for that.  I read what the NASA guy said, which wasn't that far
off base.  The popular press ran with the ball, supplying the most egregious
hype.  I can imagine the morale at NASA is extremely low, after the
retirement of the shuttle (leaving the US without a man-rated launcher), the
cancellation of Orion (leaving the US without a man-rated reentry system), a
repeated failure to explain what the space station is actually good for, and
perhaps the deepest injury,  NASA director Bolden's comment:



"When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three
things," NASA head Charles Bolden said ".and third, and perhaps foremost, he
wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much
more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their
historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."



Well you know, plenty of us, even hardcore lifelong space fans, read that
comment and seriously questioned whether we need NASA at all.  I don't
understand Bolden's motive for revealing that scandalous request.  I know
several hardcore space scientists, born to be space scientists, live for it,
gave it everything, earned a PhD at the sacrifice of a family life, all
space all the way.  Then they read that comment.  I can imagine the NASA
scientists feeling like they have been demoted to foreign ambassador or US
state department flunky.





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