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Sir Spunky
2014-May-18, 11:50 AM
Iíve started to see life as an extremely complex form of chemical reactions. In a very short time frame, relatively speaking, very complex chemical reactions are happening on Earth. There are many other complex chemical reactions in the Universe, but life appears as one of the most chaotic and hardest to predict. Not the most energetic by far, but maybe one of the most complex arrangements of energy.

Do you think that life is unsually chaotic?

Noclevername
2014-May-18, 01:00 PM
Chaotic does not mean complex. For something to achieve complexity, especially the dynamic complexity of life, it has to have a pattern of structure; so life is ordered chaos, so to speak.

kevin1981
2014-May-18, 09:39 PM
I am not sure chaotic is the right word to use. I would say the processes are very complex, but also non random. The processes have to work in a certain way otherwise they would not work. These amazingly complex processes have evolved from simple chemistry to where they are today over hundreds of millions of years. I do not think these chemical reactions are chaotic, they are very ordered but also, very complex.

To me, chaotic implies randomness. One could say the chemical reactions that first happened were random and i would have to agree with that. But, as life evolved the chemical reactions started to repeat themselves, over and over again, implying non randomness. Which for me, implies non chaotic !

John Mendenhall
2014-May-18, 10:58 PM
Agreed with above answers. A working definition of life could be bringing order out of chaos.

Sir Spunky
2014-May-19, 10:41 AM
Yes, I agree with you guys. I also realized "chaotic" might be a bad choice of word after I made the post.

So letís change the question: Would you say that life is unusually complex? And letís focus on cellular life on Earth as we know it.

It seems to me that life on Earth is very unpredictable compared to other phenomenons in the Universe. So unpredictable that we usually resort to terms like free will to explain why organisms behave the way they do, because the underlying physics are far too complex to comprehend.

Or is this unfair to other processes in the Universe? I guess the storms on Jupiter are pretty hard to predict as well.

However, thereís also something about life growing and changing state very fast, in cosmic terms, that seems unusual compared to the rest of the Universe. At least the human industrial population.

Not sure what all of this would tell us, but it's kind of interesting to think of what makes life stand out, considering it's so hard to find a good formal definition of it.

Cougar
2014-May-19, 03:27 PM
In a very short time frame, relatively speaking, very complex chemical reactions are happening on Earth.

Yeah, but it took awhile for those chemical interactions to go autocatalytic or whatever trick was needed for reproduction and metabolism. The real bottleneck was going from single to multicellular. This leap took about 3 billion years.


"On many fronts, life evolves toward a regime that is poised between order and chaos." [Stuart Kauffman, At Home In The Universe]

Reality Check
2014-May-21, 04:03 AM
Would you say that life is unusually complex? And letís focus on cellular life on Earth as we know it.
Unfortunately that focus means that we cannot say anything about the complexity of life. We need to study life somewhere else in order to compare the complexity of two similar entities (life on Earth and life elsewhere).
But for an unknown definition of complex (:D):
* In terms of chemical reactions, my opinion is the chemical reactions happening in biological organisms seem to be as complex as any other chemical reactions.
* Weather seems more complex than life.
* Rocks seem less complex than life.

cunhaefc
2014-May-29, 02:26 AM
Well it all depends on what you compare it to. If we compare it to anything that humans have built, designed or engineered, life is light years more complex. And while biologists are trying to figure out how life on this planet works, they'd probably agree that it's "chaotic", at least before they figure it out. Protein pathways in individual cells are enough to send your mind reeling for weeks trying to understand them.
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Hlafordlaes
2014-May-29, 10:52 AM
I’ve started to see life as an extremely complex form of chemical reactions. In a very short time frame, relatively speaking, very complex chemical reactions are happening on Earth. There are many other complex chemical reactions in the Universe, but life appears as one of the most chaotic and hardest to predict. Not the most energetic by far, but maybe one of the most complex arrangements of energy.

Do you think that life is unsually chaotic?

I would not describe it as such. Complex as others have said.

The problem with the qualifier of "unusual" as applied here is that it does not have much meaning. Unusual as compared to what? If the comparison is to one's expectations, then what we are doing is only admitting we had an earlier mistaken notion, and not explaining much of what we are seeing.

Cougar's caution on time lines applies, I think, equally to abiogenesis. If, as it increasingly seems, it was a systemic process involving a great deal of specialized chemical activities seeded by interactions among early local bodies, that too extended over a very long time, starting from early planet formation onward.

margaretannB
2014-Jun-09, 05:36 AM
It's how you perceive life. Problems are common and it's not really chaotic.

Sardonicone
2014-Jun-15, 02:03 PM
The fact life does exist means it's not unusual. Might be rare, or uncommon, but we're proof it exists and thus can be a possibility
to exist elsewhere providing favorable conditions. The biggest issue we're having with now is what really would qualify as
"favorable conditions". If you mean complex life we can extrapolate and make various assumptions as to what is needed for
multicellular life forms. But single celled organisms are showing time and time again that what they can tolerate as habitable
is so far removed from what we normally think of as being able to harbor life. Extremeophiles will live on the top of boiling
ocean vents, mud springs too salty/hot/acidic for most life as we know it, there are even bacterium that gorge themselves
upon radioactive waste. I suppose it's really hard to make any assumptions other than again, we know it can and does exist.