Life

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SolSeed < Life

ASL sign for Life

LeavesStoreEnergy.jpg

All Life is precious.
Life is a master of Chaos, using energy to create exquisitely ordered systems capable of perpetuating themselves.
While adapting itself through evolution, Life also Changes its surroundings to keep them hospitable for life.
Wisdom teaches that in the mission of preserving, nurturing, and expanding the domain of Life,
SelfLove and Empathy are one and the same.
All successful life is
Adaptable,
Opportunistic,
Tenacious,
Interconnected, and
Fecund.

-Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower


Without Life, the energy from Sol simply bounces off the planet. Life literally collects the energy Sol sends to earth, and stores it up for future use. Plants take energy from Sol and convert it into denser, more storable forms. The sugars and fats that our bodies burn are little pools of energy that originally comes from our sun. Ants carrying, eagles flying, people thinking ... none of these would exist if Life wasn't capable of storing up the energy Sol sends.

To define life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge for scientists (see Wikipedia:Life).

For our purposes, Life is the means by which the Universe engages Itself.

Everything, no matter how alive, is composed of atoms, finer particles, waves, strings and other energies. At some level of description, its behaviors are governed by the simple physical laws that order these basic constituents. And yet...

When we think about how and why a person acts, we rarely refer to simple physical laws. Instead we talk about needs, wants, feelings, desires, emotions, goals, relationships, and other organizing principles that are very far removed from the laws of physics. The behavior of a human being is governed by principles that Transcend and Include the foundational laws of Physics, Chemistry, Geology, and Astrophysics. Unlike the rest of the Universe, life-forms obey the Observership of the Universe through the conceptual artifacts of experience and meaning.

Contrast humans with mountains, glaciers, or planets. These simpler things merely follow the order described by the laws of the hard sciences. The atoms, finer particles, waves, strings and other energies in a live human body, while internally following the laws of the hard sciences, follow en masse the conceptual (non-material) order of knowledge and objectives.

The clash of the two orders have resulted in the transformation of the planet Earth. I.e., our observership-driven order of matter (in life-forms) is engaging NON-observership-driven order of matter (in the rest of nature). This engagement has been resulting in the generation and acceleration of a social reality comprising cities, towns, villages, highways, railways, tunnels, bridges, trains, cars, motorcycles, money, malls, supermarkets, department stores, television, telecommunications, the internet, and the like.

Life is the more precious of the two orders because it is the only order that allows the Universe to enjoy the ever greater thrill of engaging with Oneself at ever faster, emerging, and unpredictable levels of complexity - and perpetually keep fulfilling One's Creatorship.

Contents

Characteristics of Life

  • Grow
  • Reproduce
  • Maintain internal structure (organization) ... (homeostasis)
  • React ... respond to stimulus

Reduction in Entropy

Life is that which causes a reduction in entropy. entropy and life

"Living organisms preserve their internal order by taking from their surroundings free energy, in the form of nutrients or sunlight, and returning to their surroundings an equal amount of energy as heat and entropy." Principles of Biochemistry, 2nd Ed.

Life also acts to reduce the speed at which entropy increases in the environment. Without Life, Sol energy in the form of photons would simply be reflected into space. Entropy increases as the ability of energy to do useful work decreases. Scattered sunlight spreading out into space at the speed of light rapidly decreases its ability to do useful work. The sunlight coming directly from Sol and reaching earth is a concentrated and nearly coherent source of energy. Much work can be done with it and it can easily be collected with leaves or solar panels. But after bouncing off a rock on the surface of the Earth, within hours or days it's effective temperature will have dropped by such a great factor that its usefulness as a source of energy is almost entirely used up.

Living organisms are heat engines and heat engines use a hot concentrated source of energy and a cold heat sink and chanel energy from the hot source to the cold sink through their engine to do work. Ultimately, on Earth, the hot source is Sol and the cold sink is the Cosmic Background radiation. When Sol's light reflects off the surface of the Earth it's effective temperature drops within days from around 300 K to about 30K and then within years it approaches 3K. At that point very little can be done with it. Imagine building a solar panel and trying to make an energy profit on the light you collected (versus the energy you put into building the panel) if instead of Sol's light you used the light from a dim star. It would be virtually impossible. But from 30 light years away, Sol is a very dim star. This means that within 30 years of bounding off a rock on Earth's surface, Sol's light is virtually of no value, it has reached maximum entropy.

But plants store some of the Energy from Sol and have been for hundreds of millions of years. That energy can actually stayed stored in concentrated forms for hundreds of millions of years. We have even learned to dig it up and use it. Fossil fuels are entropy delayed from coming into being by plants. And the factor is huge. 30 years vs. 300 million years. a factor of 10 million. As Life grows in power through the Destiny, it may come to slow entropy in the universe on a massive scale. This could make a huge difference to the fate of the universe. The most likely fate of the universe as we understand it now is Heat Death, a maximizing of Entropy. If Life becomes ever more powerful and delays the maximizing of entropy for a significant portion of the universe's energy, it could delay the heat death of the universe by a similar factor. Instead of heat death effectively occuring within a hundred trillion years it might take a qunitillion years.

Life exuberant
bursting through boundaries
to flower and spread
creates the conditions for more Life,
in an Upward Spiral
of ever-growing possibilities.

Continuum of Life

Life is a multi-dimensional continuum. The higher forms of life cannot exist without the less organized forms.

  • Quarks, Leptons (such as Electrons and Neutrinos), Bosons (such as Photons and the Higgs)
  • Hadrons (such as Neutrons and Protons) ... composed of quarks
  • Atoms ... composed of Electrons, Neutrons, Protons
  • Compounds and Molecules ... composed of Atoms
    • Crystals
    • Carbohydrates
    • Nucleotides
    • Amino Acids
    • Lipids
    • Proteins
    • Enzymes
    • RNA
    • DNA
    • Plasmid
  • Organisms ... composed of Compounds and Molecules
    • Viruses
    • Bacteria
    • Archaea
    • Fungi
    • Plants
    • Animals
  • Societies and Ecosystems ... composed of Organisms
    • ant, bee, and termite colonies
    • human families, cities, nations
    • Cascadia, Gaia, SolSeed
  • Biospheres ... composed of Societies and Ecosystems
  • Biospheric Communion ... composed of interacting biospheres on multiple worlds

Social Systems

  • How do these simpler constituents organize to form larger more complex orders

Serving Life as a Spiritual Mission

Life is the force that gave birth to humanity through the blind forces of evolution. We belong to it; we are all part of Gaia. Gaia, James Lovelock's name for the body of all Life on Earth, in some ways resembles the gods of other monotheistic religions: She created us, and she can easily destroy us if need be. Love, awe, and fear are all natural emotional responses to Gaia. As such, if the "Church of Science" ever develops a pantheon of empirically verified "gods," Gaia will be a natural candidate.

SolSeed's name is a metaphor, treating humans as potential "seeds" of a planetary superorganism. By allowing Gaia to reproduce through fulfilling TheDestiny, we will be serving Life in the biggest and most important way we can. If Life's purpose is to survive and perpetuate itself, always growing in beauty and complexity, then going to other planets to grow new members of Gaia's "species," which currently has only one member, is of paramount importance.

But it's equally important to support and nurture the biosphere we have rather than exploiting and destroying it. We are all part of the interconnected web of Life that constitutes Gaia, so anything we do to her, we do to ourselves. The general tendency of humans to ignore this principle over the past few centuries is the major reason why, before we can move on to making "new Earths," we may well need to re-terraform this one.

Serving Life also means directly serving each other and joining together as communities, both because our fellow humans are part of Life too, and because meeting the other goals above will need our species to be at its best.

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