Extremophiles and Extreme Environments
Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto
Organisms, known as extremophiles, thrive in habitats which for other terrestrial life-forms are intolerably hostile or even lethal.
They thrive in extreme hot niches, ice, and salt solutions, as well as acid and alkaline conditions; some may grow in toxic waste, organic solvents, heavy metals, or in several other habitats that were previously considered inhospitable for life.
Extremophiles have been found depths of 6.7 km inside the Earth’s crust, more than 10 km deep inside the ocean—at pressures of up to 110 MPa; from extreme acid (pH 0) to extreme basic conditions (pH 12.8); and from hydrothermal vents at 122 °C to frozen sea water, at −20 °C.
For every extreme environmental condition investigated, a variety of organisms have shown that they not only can tolerate these conditions, but that they also often require those conditions for survival.
Such conditions exist not only on earth, but on several planets and moons in our own solar system.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus tops the list in terms of having just the right conditions to host life. The sixth-largest of Saturn’s 62 confirmed moons, Enceladus boasts a massive saltwater ocean hidden beneath its icy surface.
Another strong candidate is Titan, and Saturn’s largest moon. Europa the sixth-largest moon in the solar systemhas saltwater oceans beneath its 10-mile-thick icy surface. Europa may hold more liquid water than all of Earth’s oceans combined. Ganymede and Callisto may also have subsurface liquid oceans.
Mars probably had liquid water on its surface. Venus, as well.
While earth’s extremophiles are not really “intelligent” life, they might be a stepping stone.
Consider the numbers in our solar system alone:
There are more than 200 moons in our solar system. Most of the major planets – all except Mercury and Venus – have moons. Pluto and some other dwarf planets, as well as many asteroids, also have small moons.
Then, moving on from our solar system to our galaxy, the Milky Way, we find the estimate that there are around 100 billion estimated planets at least, and there are an estimated 40 billion planets (not counting moons) that might support life in our Milky Way galaxy.
Moving up to the next notch, the observable Universe, which has a radius of 46.5 billion light-years, seems to contain at least two trillion galaxies.
Do the math, and you will see there are so many places that could support life, together with the fact that life even exists in places we currently don’t expect, and you might think it is inconceivable that life does not exist elsewhere. And if life exists, intelligent life may not be far behind.
And if alien life began only a million years before earth’s life — but a moment on the universe’s time scale — it could technologically be far, far ahead of ours. (Consider how far we have come just in the past 100 years.)
So mathematically the odds are that intelligent life — even life far more intelligent than we are — exists somewhere out there.
SO WHERE ARE THEY?
Many explanations have been given for our lack of contact, to date:
- The universe, even the galaxy, is too big. The Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across, and even the very nearest star is 4 light-years away. That’s about 24,000,000,000,000 miles away, much too far to travel, even with the best technology, we even can imagine.
- The universe is too hostile. Even if we could find a way to travel that far, perhaps with multiple generations, the radiation, lack of gravity, lack of sustenance, and other factors could doom traveling so far.
- We’re so small and insignificant, intelligent creatures aren’t interested in expending the effort to travel here.
- They secretly have been here, and want nothing more to do with us.
- They are here and we don’t know it.
The list goes on and on –many discussed at length — but there is one possible reason, less often discussed: For several reasons, intelligent life never may survive long enough to create the necessary technology.
After surviving extinction from meteor hits, sun explosions and other natural disasters, intelligence itself might not be a survivable phenomenon.
Consider what our “intelligence” has brought us”
Getting help to skirt COVID-19 rules
Community leaders coaching parents on mandate exemptions
By Gillian Flaccus, Janie Har and Sara Cline Associated Press
ALSEA, Ore. — An Oregon school superintendent is telling parents they can get their children out of wearing masks by citing federal disability law. A pastor at a California megachurch is offering religious exemptionsfor anyone morally conflicted over vaccine requirements.
It’s like this: If you simply claim you’re disabled or religious, the Delta virus will respect that and not infect you.
Also, if because you’re not vaccinated and/or wearing a mask, and you exhale the virus, it won’t infect other people.
And Louisiana’s attorney general has posted sample letters on his office’s Facebook page for those seeking to get around the governor’s mask rules.
Across the country, religious figures, doctors, public officials and other community leaders are trying to help people circumvent COVID-19 precautions.
It’s like this: The job of attorneys general, doctors, public officials and community leaders is to flout laws that protect the people, and instead, apply laws Donald Trump and the least educated in the community, approve.
As for the aforementioned educated religious leaders, they prefer magic to science; they assume God will protect you better than the vaccines will.
The Oregon Superintendent considers this to be a teaching moment for its students: If you don’t like a law, lie enough to evade it.
Oregon has broken its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations day after day, and cases among children have increased dramatically.
In Kansas, the Spring Hill school board is allowing parents to claim a medical or mental health exemption from the county’s requirement that elementary school students mask up. They do not need a medical provider to sign off.
School board member Ali Seeling said the idea is to give parents “the freedom to make health decisions for their own children.”
Any intelligent group surely will encourage uneducated parents, rather than educated medical professionals, to make medical life/death decisions. That is the intelligent thing to do.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican who regularly spars with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, posted sample letters that would allow parents to seek a philosophical or religious exemption from Edwards’ mask rule at schools — or from a vaccine requirement, if one is enacted.
The letters have been shared by GOP lawmakers and thousands of others.
It’s like this; In Louisiana, most parents are doctors of medicine or doctors of philosophy, so they are the ones best equipped to make those sort of decisions for their children. After all, they were involved in the impregnation, weren’t they.
In California, the state medical board is investigating a doctor who critics say is handing out dozens of one-sentence mask exemptions for children in an attempt to evade the statewide school mask requirement.
The California Medical Association issued a statement condemning “rogue physicians” selling “bogus” exemptions. Pastor Greg Fairrington of Rocklin’s Destiny Christian Church has issued at least 3,000 religious exemptions to people with objections to the vaccine, which is becoming mandatory in an increasing number of places in California.
One hopes that Pastor Greg Fairrington received numerous contributions in return for his life-saving efforts.
Fairrington said in a statement that his church has received thousands of calls from doctors, nurses, teachers and
“We are not anti-vaccine,” he said. “At the same time, we believe in the freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. The vaccine poses a morally compromising situation for many people of faith.”
The children in Pastor Fairrinton’s church were vaccinated with chickenpox, diphtheria, influenza, hepatitis a, hepatitis b, haemophilus influenza type b, human papillomavirus, measles, meningococcal, mumps, pneumococcal, poliomyelitis, rotavirus, german measles, shingles, tetanus, and whooping cough before they could attend kindergarten.
One hopes their morality was not compromised, but perhapse Dr. Donald Trump will need to be consulted about that issue.
The point of this diatribe is that intelligent people’s intelligence turns against them when confronted with supreme idiocy.
And if this is typical of all the universe’s intelligent species, then it is clear why none of them may have survived long enough to make contact with us, now will we survive long enough to make contact with them.
But wait: A second example of how intelligent life can be self-destructive.
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Health coverage barrier for noncitizens lessening
Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune
Expansion to benefit thousands of essential workers who are seniors
By Laura Rodríguez Presa Chicago Tribune
Though Maribel Cordero was told that her stage 2 cancer needed to be treated immediately, she was denied urgent treatment because she did not have any type of health insurance.
As an immigrant from Mexico living in the country without permission, she does not qualify for federal programs that offer health coverage and she can’t afford private insurance.
Keep in mind that the U.S., being Monetarily Sovereign, creates unlimited dollars at the touch of a computer key, so providing Mrs. Cordero with health insurance would cost no one, anything at all.
The U.S. government has the infinite ability to pay for all the things that will help the species survive: Universal health care, schooling, food, shelter, clothing, infrastructure, etc.
Yet, as intelligent creatures, we fail to do it.
Why does Mrs. Cordero face unaffordable costs, requiring her to choose among food, clothing, and education for her children vs. personal survival? Because we are an “intelligent” species.
Cordero is among 11,000 people in Illinois who would be eligible for Medicaid-like benefits under an extension to a program created last year that was the first in the nation to provide government- subsidized health benefits to seniors living in the U.S. illegally.
Why is her residence here illegal? No real reason. She is as law-abiding as any legal resident, but being an intelligent species, we have erected useless barriers to citizenship.
These barriers are designed to force people not born here, to wade through byzantine and pointless immigration laws (except for the rich, who do not have any difficulty becoming citizens).
Why these useless laws? Because we are an “intelligent” species.
And then there’s this:
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Our technological advancement has allowed us to create ever more potent machines of death, which we use indescriminately.
About 1.4 million people have died from firearms in the U.S. between 1968 and 2011. This number includes all deaths resulting from a firearm, including suicides, homicides, and accidents.
Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the U.S. gun-related homicide rate is 25 times higher.
Although it has half the population of the other 22 nations combined, among those 22 nations studied, the U.S. had 82 percent of gun deaths, 90 percent of all women killed with guns, 91 percent of children under 14 and 92 percent of young people between ages 15 and 24 killed with guns.
And not just gun proliferation. No, we have become far more sophisticated than that.
The U.S. is alarmingly close to an autonomous weapons arms race
Weapons systems that think for themselves remain in their infancy, but geopolitical pressures and mistrust may force them into use prematurely.
One of the Pentagon’s primary jobs is anticipating what the wars of the future will look like so that it can allocate the resources necessary to make sure the U.S. has the edge in those battles: AI, autonomous weaponry.
These technologies are in their early stages of maturity; defense forces don’t yet understand the best ways to deploy them in battle. Military leaders in other wealthy countries, including China and Russia, are also talking about such matters, though we don’t know where they’re placing their bets.
For a number of reasons—some old, some new—the U.S. could easily get pulled into a race to develop and use autonomous weapons before it understands how to use them predictably, effectively, and ethically.
Those of you who have viewed the “Terminator” movie series, might understand the existential dangers of automated war. The machines become so sophisticated at killing humans that they kill us all, or at least enough of us to send us back into the dark ages.
THE POINT OF ALL THIS
The point of all this is that humans do not always act rationally, and intelligence provides greater and greater powers to the irrational.
There may be certain aspects of intelligence that work against survival. Intelligence implies a measure of creativity, i.e. the desire and ability to find a different solution and a different belief.
Given the problem of survival, there can be myriad solutions and beliefs, and if just one of those solutions happens to be antithetical to species survival, and it is implemented by a belief that also is antithetical to survival, then the species may not survive.
Think of the aforementioned “Terminator” invention, or the unleashing of a human-made disease that cannot be stopped, or the current reluctance to counter global warming, or a global atomic war that leaves the earth radioactive, or the invention of a black hole that rapidly eats the world, or the creation of a chemical that eliminates the earth’s protective gasses — i.e. a worldwide ozone hole.
Each day, our intelligence creates more means by which only a few, or even just one person, has the ability to end all human life, by accident or intent.
Even now, an American, Chinese, or Russian leader could set in motion a nuclear war that either would end all human life, or send us back to a stone-age existence. Imagine Hitler acquiring atomic weapons before America did.
And this already may have happened on the billions of planets or moons in the universe, that were unlucky enough to have fostered the creation of intelligent life.
There may be a built-in limit. When intelligence reaches the point where individuals control the technology to destroy the entire world, then inevitably one individual will use that technology, no matter how foolishly suicidal that may seem to the rest of us.
Suicide very well may be the inescapable fate of intelligence, and that may be the real reason why we are unaware of alien contact.
Imagine that yesterday, there existed exactly 25 ways to destroy the world, but as technology improves, tomorrow there will be exactly 50 ways to destroy the world.
As technology continues to improve, we eventually will find 100 ways, then 1,000 ways, then a million ways, etc.
Eventually, there will be so many ways to destroy the world that one will be used. It’s inevitable.
At a certain level, intelligence may always destroy itself.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.
The most important problems in economics involve:
- Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
- Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
- Eliminate FICA
- Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
- Social Security for all
- Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
- Salary for attending school
- Eliminate federal taxes on business
- Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
- Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
- Federal ownership of all banks
- Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9%
The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.