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Re: Evolution And Complexity

First, I was not arguing Humans should be ranked in a higher biological order 
than "fish", "bugs" or various microbes.

I was only pointing out that what humans are capable of doing goes far beyond a 
Yes, it is possible that microbes have "equalled" the space travel of humans so 
far by hitching rides on fragments ejected after impacts with cosmic objects.
However, this method fundamentally restricts them to destinations within our 
solar system, whereas potential human spaceflight can far exceed this (indeed 
our robotic craft have certainly already exceeded this, but I'm looking towards 
a quantum leap ahead)

> >(givensome hypothetical sci-fi level technology of the
> future)
> Please keep in mind that much of the research of future
> space-flight is not 'Star Trek' and it is not fanciful; Dr.
> Robert W. Bussard should not be confused with Gene
> Roddenbery.

Also please keep in mind, fusion is not hypothetical at all.
The sun does it, H bombs do it, underfunded Dense Plasma Focuses that fit in 
the space of a room do it, over funded ITER will do it.
The non hypothetical ITER may even produce net power for a short period of time 
(but has no practical way of extracting that power, as it is a demonstrator) 
before it burns out its insides (the plasma's containment time certainly won't 
be measured in minutes).

To anyone more interested in "hypothetical fusion", I'm more than willing to go 
into further detail off list.

There is nothing hypothetical about the relationship between exhaust velocity, 
specific impulse, and delta-V for a given propellant mass ratio.

If you throw enough mass out one way near the speed of light, you will get 
going near the speed of light (within an order of magnitude, ie 0.1 to 0.2 c).
It is not hypothetical that dense plasma focuses throw mass out at a 
significant fraction of the speed of light, and they do this while achieving 

It is *only* a matter of scaling and increasing the fraction of energy 
recovered. If you can recover 80% of the output, the output needs to be
s of energy, but only get a handful of nuclei fusing.

The only thing hypothetical about the propulsion is the will of human 
civilization and factions thereof to put aside their own self interest, and 
build + put into orbit a large enough dense plasma focus + fuel/propellent.

Of course, even at 0.2 C, taking perhaps hundreds of years to reach that speed, 
its still going to take a looonnnggg time to get to another star system.
How you get humans anywhere at 0.2c, is hypothetical: cryogenics? frozen 
embryos+ test tube babies grown at the destination?
What is the destination? do you send a terraforming ship first?
Do you live in space and mine asteroids?

All those solutions are hypothetical, but the propulsion technology, 
essentially exists today, it only needs (1)to be scaled up and (2) the 
collective ambition to try it.

--- On Thu, 12/9/10, Sim Koning <simkoning@msn.com> wrote:

> From: Sim Koning <simkoning@msn.com>
> Subject: Evolution And Complexity
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Date: Thursday, December 9, 2010, 1:07 PM
> Matthew Martyniuk Wrote:
> >This is getting a bit off topic, so let me ask this:
> Given how complexyou see humans, as we're the only species
> theoretically capable ofexpanding our >species into space
> for an extended period of time (givensome hypothetical
> sci-fi level technology of the future), why arguethat
> Mammalia should be >ranked as a class, rather than rank
> Homo (oreven Primates) itself as class even a kingdom?
> Surely the platypus hasno chance of building a rocket, so
> >why does it get into the sameexclusive, complex club as
> humans? In other words, if you'redetermining taxonomy by
> complexity, what's the metric? How >complex iscomplex
> enough to earn membership in a new taxonomic class?
>   I was not suggesting that we base anything around
> humans. There is an area of active research called emergence
> theory  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcuBvj0pw-E ; which
> is the study of how complexity can emerge from simplicity;
> this has nothing to do with human cent
t another dimension to the classification
> of life may be found in a study increasing complexity. Of
> course this might be mostly useless in the context of
> phylogenetics, but *could* be useful in fields such as
> exobiology and cosmology. Within this context, mammals and
> archosaurs may be roughly analogous in that both have
> evolved 4 chambered hearts, many have/had insulation,
> complex social behavior, complex brains, complex respiratory
> systems etc. these adaptations have enabled both to populate
> virtually every area of the globe. Animals such as eusocial
> insects need to be considered as well, since the argument
> could be made that some are actually "super-organisms".
> Advanced cephalopod brains should also be compared to the
> brains of mammals and archosaurs.
> >species into space for an extended period of time
> (givensome hypothetical sci-fi level technology of the
> future) 
> I think many are getting hung up on this because I included
> archosaurs and mammals as groups that have the potential to
> give rise to sapient life. This was more a comment on the
> complexity of some archosaurian and mammalian brains
> relative to most other vertebrates. A complex brain must
> exist before an *extremely* complex brain can evolve. We at
> least know sapient life evolved from within mammalia
> (humans), and if corvids are anything to go by, it's
> possible that if dinosaurs had not gone extinct, one lineage
> *may* have produced a species as intelligent as H. sapiens.
> Again, I'm not suggesting that everything revolve around
> this one point. I am also not suggesting that a species like
> H. sapiens is an inevitability. There may be billions, or
> even trillions of planets in the universe that have evolved
> complex life, and yet go their entire history without
> producing a single technologically advanced species before
> being consumed by their expanding sun. It may turn out that
> complex life is rare and that most forms of life in the
> universe are microbes. However, it should also be r
lions of trials in
> oceans filled with organic compounds before the first
> primitive, inefficient replicators emerged. And so millions
> or even billions of "trials" may be needed to produce life
> as complex as archosaurs and mammals, with only a few of
> those giving rise to sapient life, and perhaps fewer still
> producing advanced civilizations, but it may only take *one*
> space faring species to give rise to billions of new
> intelligent life forms.     
> >(givensome hypothetical sci-fi level technology of the
> future)
> Please keep in mind that much of the research of future
> space-flight is not 'Star Trek' and it is not fanciful; Dr.
> Robert W. Bussard should not be confused with Gene
> Roddenbery. There is also more to this than space craft: if
> humans eventually invent strong AI, that is to say AI that
> is comparable to humans in intelligence, we may become the
> progenitors of new species of human, or even a new form of
> life altogether. Gregory S. Paul has actually written about
> this subject in his book 'Beyond Humanity: Cyberevolution
> and Future Minds'. So even if humans have the most complex
> brains in Earth's history, there is no reason to think we
> are the 'pinacle' of evolution anymore than we should think
> lobe finned fish were the pinnacle of fish evolution simply
> because they were the precursors of terrestrial vertebrates.
> If humans do spread out in to the galaxy, the isolation that
> would result may produce millions of new species life, which
> in turn may diversify into entirely new clades, or even
> completely new forms of life. Sapient life has the added
> benefit of being able control its own evolution, which may
> result exponential increase in intelligence/complexity. Even
> with slower than light travel (.2 C) this could happen
> within a span of only a few million years. 
> So within this *context* there may be some justification in
> thinking of some clades such as mammals, archosaurs and any
> possible analogs in terms of relative complexity to other
 should continue to be
> used is somewhat beside the point, I am simply suggesting
> that there *may* be another dimension to the classification
> of life along with synapomorphies. How useful this would be
> I'm not sure, I'm not a scientist, or a researcher in these
> fields...I'll leave that up to you guys.
> Simeon Koning.