Author Topic: Bonus Episode 9  (Read 1752 times)

Offline CthulhuKid

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Bonus Episode 9
« on: April 25, 2013, 06:24:39 AM »
Great show, yes it got heavy in the middle, but occasional heaviness never hurt anyone.

Speaking to conservation, it reminded me of a conversation I was having with my wife.  I'm huge into space exploration and think Curiosity and all the new plans from NASA are exciting as all get out.  I was talking about the oceans of Europa to my wife and the plan to drill down there and look for bacteria or (I hope, I hope) fish under there.

My wife, who has hippyish tendencies, brought up the fear that by going there, we could kill all of them.  I told her that the chance of anything we bring over on a probe to have evolved to deal with whatever is down there is mil, she replied with the question I hate most when we discuss these things:  "Yeah, but how do you know?"

So I bring this up to you all:  If we did find interplanetary fish on/in Europa, or even if we find bacteria underground on Mars, what do you think we should do to preserve those species?  Should we scale back human presence on these places to allow these other beings to thrive, or should we simply do our best and keep some on the side in a "pure Mars" zone while we set up our colonies?

It makes my brain itch just thinking about it.

Offline stephako

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Re: Bonus Episode 9
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2013, 04:57:15 AM »
I certainly think we should preserve and study life if we find it. This would be particularly important if it had a different origin than ours (i.e. no panspermia). In my opinion killing an alien species would be an even greater loss than driving a species on earth to extinction (which is already bad enough).

How we could be certain not to kill whatever we find is actually a good question. But only once we know that there is life. I don't think it is a good argument against exploration.
I'm not sure how likely it is that anything we bring there could affect truly alien life, like predators or diseases do e.g. on islands. If they have a different origin the organisms could have a substantially different biochemistry from anything we find on earth (maybe other amino acids, maybe sth other than DNA etc.). In that case I don't think parasites or predators would be a problem. it could be, that whatever we introduce out competes local species. I am not sure about the exact conditions of the oceans on europa but I imagine them to be more like the deep sea than fresh water or coastal regions. I would guess that organisms adapted to regions where they could come in contact with our equipment are not suited to a life in the deep sea. So I would be surprised if they would stand a chance against local populations.
I also think we could sufficiently well sterilize equipment so that any critter that is on the probe is already dead once the probe starts drilling. Not sure how long those nasty water bears can survive in space, but I guess a couple of years ought to kill even them.
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