Alphabetical Movie – Jurassic Park

Life finds a way.

So we are told by Dr. Ian Malcom in Jurassic Park. 

We will ignore the problems with the fashion in which this happens in Jurassic Park – it is Science Fiction after all – because I’m really intrigued by the concept that life finds a way.

The pessimistic view of life on Earth is that life is pretty unusual and fragile.  A common argument in favor of god is the idea that life is mathematically improbable.  We have a planet with the “perfect” conditions for life to arise and it has arisen.  Everywhere.

My response has always been to question whether or not the emergence of life is all that difficult.  Isn’t it possible that we overestimate the importance of the requirements we believe are required for life.  Given how life has found a way to thrive in almost every environment on our planet, I have to wonder if we haven’t drastically underestimated the probability of life emerging elsewhere.

I don’t claim any deep scientific knowledge to back up my supposition.  I just feel like the Earth serves as our best example to consider the possibility of life on other planets and the amount of life this tiny little rock has managed to support is pretty staggering.  Once life grabs hold, it sure seems to me that it has little desire to let go.

In fact, the main obstacle to life seems to be other forms of life muscling in on claimed territory.  We humans do a great job snuffing out life in our quest for more resources.  Living things crowd out other living things but life goes on and we are constantly finding new species in places we didn’t expect.

So if life finds a way almost effortlessly on Earth, why would that not be the case on billions of other worlds in the universe?  Is it human arrogance that presumes that life is so difficult to achieve in spite of the evidence all around us?

We seem so willing to convince ourselves that we are unique and I don’t understand why.  To me, the exciting thought is that life isn’t unusual at all.  I would like to think that life has found a way on countless worlds circling countless stars.  I would like to think that our way is far from the only way for life to evolve.

Even if we never make contact with any of that life.  Even if the only species we will ever encounter are the ones here on our own tiny rock on the edge of space.  Simply thinking about all that life is exciting, isn’t it?

Estimating how unlikely all of this might be seems a futile task because we don’t honestly know how unlikely it is at all.  We have made assumptions based on very little hard evidence.  Those assumptions  really shouldn’t lead us towards any sort of conclusion.

There is no proof that life is difficult, just as there is no proof that life is very easy.

I guess it comes down to what kind of universe we hope for.  I hope for a universe that is crawling with life.  I look around our planet and the way life finds a way here and I feel like that idea isn’t so far-fetched.

Life will find a way.

If it doesn’t, as Carl Sagan said,  it seems like an awful waste of space.

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

3 responses to “Alphabetical Movie – Jurassic Park”

  1. Matthew says :

    As Hawking said, “Life seems to be simply what matter does, given the right conditions and enough time.” And everything we continue to learn suggests that those “right conditions” are probably far more broad than we’ve ever thought.

    Good post, Tim.

  2. ScienceDefined says :

    I’ve got a bit of a yes and no reply to this article.

    On the side of the ‘life is rare’ argument, it only has to happen once. We have all descended from one common ancestor, a single cell that appeared spontaneously at one point. Once that happened it just kept reproducing and getting better. Evolution took hold and eventually you got all the life forms that are around today. But we all descend from that one single cell, from that single point when life was created. So no it hasn’t really been done millions of times on Earth. As far as we know it’s happened once. The fact that we have no evidence to show that it has happened again (giving entirely new forms of life) either shows that it is the only way to form life (in which case life may form multiple times, but evidence would be near impossible to find in this current era) or that it simply hasn’t happened again.

    Nevertheless to support your side:

    First off, judging by the number of planets found that may be habitable, scientists are now starting to believe that life is likely, and probably does exist on other planets. Intelligent life however probably does not. That’s because it takes several billion years to form (again this may be, as you said, humans being a bit self-obsessed and trying to claim the ‘We’re oldest’ title).

    Even more so, the argument that it is ‘improbable’ due to the perfect circumstances needed is pointless in my mind. Here’s an example from DNA:

    Our DNA system is vast, featuring many millions (maybe more) base’s and codons to form our genetic code. It’s so precious and detailed that our body uses several mechanisms to make sure nothing changes (mutates). As a result the probability of any DNA mutating is 0.00000000…1 or something similar (extremely or ‘improbably’ low). However if you take a look at how many cells there are, how often cells divide and how much DNA there is to replicate, I calculated in a lecture once that on average a person should have something like 4 DNA mutations during DNA replication (I can’t remember if this was for all of the cells in the body combined, or each cell themselves, probably the former).

    The point is, that when you think of the probability of a single interaction causing something like life, yes it’s unlikely. But when you consider that billions upon trillions of interactions like this are happening all the time, life is more or less inevitable.

    Sorry for the long comment!

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