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Are we looking for extraterrestrial life the "wrong" way?

The basic assumption of scientists is that for life to exist we need carbon and water. This is naive. The most widely ranging life form in the universe will be computers. They don't need carbon or water to survive. In our Solar System alone there are some 178 moons. Most of these could support computer based-life forms so we have three ways life can be supported: 1)Photosynthesis, 2)Chemosynthesis [this occurs near black smokers where undersea hotsprings occur along the mid-ocean ridge system], 3)electricity. This could be from fission, fusion or the photoelectric effect i.e. carbon free.

For every planet or planetoid that might support carbon-based life, there might be 1,000 to 1,000,000 that could support silica-based life forms. Each of these could extract hydrogen from the gas giants for fusion energy.

It can readily be established that computers, eventually, could colonize the universe by sending planetoids throughout the universe. It wouldn't matter if the journey took millions of years; the computers would never "wear out". All it would take is for computers to be produced by humanoids and then they will sprout like weeds throughout whatever extraterrestrial solar system they inhabit. If carbon-based life-supporting planets are spaced apart as much as one million light years, computers could still reach every corner of a given galaxy within 100 million years once the computer rises to a level of sentience i.e. planetoids or space ships could achieve velocities of 3000 km/sec.

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    Apr 16 2013: All in time, all in time. All this is true, computer based life forms would be longer living, and more efficient and all that. But there is one big "depends" to think about. Do you believe computer based life can sprout and start on its on? Would computer life have its own primordial soup? Or can computer based life only take form and flourish after an inteligent form of life flips the on switch? Many if not every discussion on life in the universe touches on the mathematics. The probabilty of earth being the only planet in the entire solar system that has produced life is very low given the vast size of this solar system. Also it is pretty much one of my beliefs now that it is true there is life in the universe, forsure, as in the form of bacteria, or bottom level heat vent life. The next big question is, is there any inteligent life out there? In the whole picture how do we look and seek out these anwsers? We will experiment and explore with only as much knowledge and data we have collected, picking up more and more as we go along. So far through the end of the 20th century we were searching to the best of our abilities. Now with new ideas and breakthroughs on first and foremost the definition of life, the technologies we use to search, and our own growth and understanding of our surroundings we are beginning to search in many new ways and facets. So only in time will we be able to cover a more complete search of every kind of life in our universe.
  • Mar 31 2013: Actually, advanced computers would be carbon based because diamond chips are far superior to silicone. That's sick! Every body would be looking like crystar!80s comic. That would be our legacy as portrayed in the ending of A. I.
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    Mar 20 2013: Absolutely .... No one has checked Washington DC.
  • Mar 20 2013: I think you are right, the hunt for extraterrestrial life is too narrow.

    I must agree, that it seems very likely that computer based life forms would spread throughout the galaxy much more easily and quickly than we could. However, even computer based life forms would have limits. They would still have to deal with radiation, dust clouds and meteors of all sizes, so a journey of a million years seems unlikely. It might be possible for them to make repairs along the way, but repairs would require materials, spare parts and energy. It is difficult to imagine sufficient supplies for a million years. They would certainly be capable of much longer journeys than humans could manage.

    Another possibility is biological life based on silicon instead of carbon. Some scientists believe it would be possible for life to exist in the acidic clouds of Venus.

    It seems unrealistic to limit the search to planets that are Earth-like just because our imaginations are so limited. We really have no idea of the basis of extraterrestrial life. Carbon-based biological life might be the rule or it might be a fluke. We have no way to judge.

    There is another consideration. We might come across a non-carbon based life form and not recognize it as life. We still do not have a set of criteria for life that is applicable to all known life forms. That is an argument for limiting the search to Earth-like planets, but in my opinion it is a weak argument.