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Astrobiologist: Physics limits the life forms that can exist


From a review of The Equations of Life: The Hidden Rules Shaping Evolution by astrobiologist Chares Cockell,

The book uses many examples of living things on our own planet, most convincingly the ladybug, to explain eloquently why everything from microbes to large animals are the way they are. For example, why does the ladybug not fall off a leaf? How does it manage to breathe without lungs? How does it survive winter or fly—considering its aerodynamics are very different from an airplane’s?

Having shown that physical factors limit the solutions for life on this planet, Cockell extends the argument to extraterrestrial life. He expects us to find only carbon-based life elsewhere in the universe, which, he contends, is likely to use water as a solvent and have only a limited set of available nutrients and building blocks for biology. We should not be surprised, therefore, to find on some other planet an animal that reminds us of, say, a cow, or a raven, or even a human. So our Cosmic Zoo may be quite limited. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, “How Fundamental Physics Shapes the Diversity of Life ” at Air & Space (Smithsonian)

Taking physics seriously is part of an approach to evolution called “structuralism,” which is sadly neglected when Darwinism rules.

See also: Is Nature now giving space to structuralism?

Structuralism: A term ID folk need to learn more about

Michael Denton, as his book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis reveals, is a structuralist. He thinks that many puzzles of evolution will turn out to relate to as yet unidentified laws of physics and chemistry.

Of course, if one insists, with Stephen Jay Gould, that evolution is random, any such quest is in vain.

Denton himself certainly learned what can happen to those who search for such laws.

Convergent evolution: “Emerging view” that evolution is predictable?

Um, hogwash. Start with a blank sheet of paper and write short descriptions of every kind of animal you can imagine. Then get a zoology book and write down all the critters we've actually got. When biologists get bored, they dream up new explanations (wild guesses) for why some select dozen critters all obey some Law that no one thought of before. If Life on Earth was designed, then the limits on what once lived here or now lives here are what got approved by the Design Committee. And if the Design Committee approves something like nothing else on Earth, well, then we get a critter that does not comply with the design parameters for the other design projects. Any set of engineers who can smash 2 Mars-size planets together at PRECISELY the right speed and angle of impact to produce the Earth-Moon system ain't limited by anything human biologists would call "laws" for Life. The uniqueness of the Earth-Moon system will undoubtedly as special as the uniqueness of life on Earth. And the chance these things being an accident continue to be "astronomical". vmahuna

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