Web siteA history of the Universe, the short story: Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas, which, given enough time, turns into people http://www.savageresearch.com/humor/historyOfTheUniverse.html
      – BorgClown, 2008-12-15 at 03:39:05   (21 comments)

On 2008-12-15 at 03:39:30, BorgClown wrote...
Sounds weird when said this way, but it's true.
On 2008-12-15 at 09:32:00, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Given that the hydrogen formed within the first millionth of a second of the big bang, the only thing missing is the mention of the big bang itself. And the presence of all that empty space around the people.
On 2009-10-09 at 07:03:08, Bensci wrote...
rofl The Big Bang theory/evolution combined into one concise sentence.
On 2009-10-22 at 08:50:40, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Of course it depends on what you define as 'people' - this statement is wrong if it means humans. If you created a new universe and seeded it with hydrogen, you wouldn't end up with humans - there are too many accidents in our history to get the same outcome again.
On 2009-10-23 at 02:15:23, BorgClown wrote...
We don't know of any other universe but this one, nor we can create one and experiment. The definition is appropriate according to our current hard facts, although I can see your point.
On 2009-10-23 at 08:27:12, Lee J Haywood wrote...
It's the wording that's wrong - given enough time, it turned into people. That's the history of the universe we're in.
On 2009-10-23 at 11:36:00, Bensci wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: I think what it means is sentient life.
On 2009-10-23 at 11:40:48, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@Bensci: Which then leads to the question of what constitutes a person? Would an intelligent, talking chimpanzee be granted the rights of a person by a court? What about a self-aware robot? Or an alien from another planet? If you allow 'people' to mean non-humans, then you're making progress.
On 2009-10-23 at 23:48:36, BorgClown wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: It's obviously an oversimplification worth for its comedic value, don't ruin it.
On 2010-06-26 at 06:33:18, _Cairo wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: There is a small chance of having the same outcome again. All we know is that it has happened at least once.
On 2010-06-26 at 09:32:31, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@Cairo: I'd replace the word 'small' with 'insignificant'. Just because something could happen doesn't mean it's at all likely, and even with the same starting conditions the universe may not end up in the same final state.
On 2010-07-01 at 04:56:35, BorgClown wrote...
Why not? Unless the universe has an inherent random layer, an identical Big Bang should bring us discussing it. Before QM gets mentioned, I'd like to point out that not fully understood data can appear random. New QM discoveries are made regularly, we can't really assure that the universe has a truly random behavior.
On 2010-07-04 at 13:02:07, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Given that the evolution of the universe requires increasing entropy, the universe must have been very ordered in the past. It's difficult to know if the initial state had imperfections, or if the imperfections have been added since by complexity/randomness. Either way, the butterfly effect's effect upon the present is stronger the longer it has had to act. So a time traveller making a tiny change at the start of the universe would have a dramatic impact on the present.
On 2010-07-23 at 06:14:30, TheRevolutionary wrote...
Given the size and duration of any universe similar to our own, I think a creature sufficiently similar to ourselves to be called "human" might be quite likely. It is highly unlikely that they would be identical to us in every way both biological, psychological, and historical. If I ran into something like a Vulcan or other humanoid alien, I might go so far as to call it human, even if it wasn't an Earthling, especially since it seems pretty likely that most aliens we run into would be very unhuman.
On 2010-07-23 at 07:39:55, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I disagree, on two points. Firstly, Vulcans are fictional and there's no reason to think that ape-like creatures have evolved anywhere else in the universe. Secondly, there's no evidence that any other life exists in the universe, i.e. it could be that life on Earth is just a fluke. Re-running history might not result in any life at all, never mind humans. Of course, you could be right - maybe ape-like creatures would evolve given another chance. Maybe the universe would fill with life. (Maybe even our universe is filled with life, and we just haven't found it yet). But that's all speculation, and I don't think it's statistically likely at all.
On 2010-07-23 at 19:47:32, TheRevolutionary wrote...
Of course they're fictional, I was just using an example of a humanoid alien that everyone would know. I could accept the possibility that Earth is just a fluke, but with the number of stars and the billions of years involved, surely life could arise elsewhere. If I ran into a bipedal creature with four limbs, a head, reproduced sexually, used tools, vocal communication etc, I would consider it human, even if biochemically it was quite different from us. If you took every sentient life form that ever has or ever will, evolve in this universe, how close would the most humanlike come to being human? Given the number of species you'd have to be talking about, one of them would HAVE to be very similar to us. Most intelligent lifeforms are going to have some basic similarities. Cell based, circulatory and nervous systems, sense organs that can be oriented independently of the body (IE a head), some sort of skeletal or support structure, a reproductive system etc, it's not a stretch to say theyd be human like
On 2010-07-24 at 03:47:33, BorgClown wrote...
And if it doesn't look very human, we can always anthropomorphize.
On 2010-07-24 at 07:20:40, TheRevolutionary wrote...
Good point BC. We find humanness in absolutely everything. As for what I said earlier about the law of large numbers demanding there be other humanoids. I got to thinking about it and Lee might be right. 10^12 stars in our galaxy times 10^12 galaxies yields 10^24 stars in the universe at a given time. So if you could think of 24 variables each with a 10% chance of having a value conducive to humanoid life, then that would mean if I did my math correctly (please tell me I didn't) that there would be a roughly 36% chance of human life existing. You need for starters, a second generation main sequence star of the proper spectral class with a terrestrial planet that has a stable orbit at the right distance from its star. That planet must have a stable magnetosphere and the right chemical composition. You have to be free of astronomical hazards ranging from asteroids to areas of rapid star formation and supernovas. Damn, I think I just became a rare-earther.
On 2010-07-24 at 16:42:05, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I'm not even arguing the probability side of things based on the numbers of galaxies, stars and planets. I think that comes later, after you've worked out the probability of life starting in the first place. Sure, it make actually be quite easy and therefore common - or it might be exceptionally unlikely. We only know that once it gets going it can be incredibly persistent, taking over a whole planet even after multiple cataclysms. The facts are that we only know of one place where life has started, and we don't know how unusual that event was. Until we do, everything else is speculation and thus just random numbers.
On 2010-07-25 at 08:10:26, TheRevolutionary wrote...
@ Lee: Sure this is just bar napkin calculations, but my point is, even if only a relatively few things need to go right, then you could still conceivably have a universe without intelligent life or at least without human life. You're right that this statement is wrong if you count person to mean human. but you might still be right that hydrogen doesn't necessarily create people, even if people means intelligent life or humanoid life in general. The point of my calculations wasn't to show an exact chance of life. I'm not trying to channel Frank Drake. As far as I'm concerned, the probability of life is still anywhere between a number approaching zero, and 100%. The point was to show at what point the chance of life becomes a crapshoot.
On 2010-07-25 at 17:34:25, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I don't think I said anything about you being right or wrong, more that anyone who tries to do calculations will come up with their own answers. It may be that you create a new instance of the universe we already have and life happens to pop up... or not. It's all speculative, and no-one knows. As you say, the range of probabilities is from fractional upwards. Interestingly, if you consider what it means for the probability to be 100% then assuming you're talking about anywhere in the universe then maybe it really is 99.99999% because even with a tiny chance of life the universe is vast enough to guarantee life at some point in its history (whether simple or complex). OTOH, you could ask if other life exists in this universe (a) during the same period of time as intelligent life on Earth and (b) within communication distance... then I'd argue that's a much bigger issue for us. I'd guess that no such life exists and we're very much alone, otherwise it'd be more apparent that we're not.