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#1 2004-05-20 10:52:17

From: Houston, Texas
Registered: 2004-04-07
Posts: 555

Re: Methane based life forms

[color=#000000:post_uid0]What are y’alls thoughts on life evolving on cold worlds that have and active methane cycle. Places similar to Titan, where methane exists as a solid liquid or vapor.

The worlds these aliens live on could planets far from their parent star, or large moons around Gas Giants. From orbit, they might even be blue worlds that have an Earth-like appearance from orbit and on the surface. Imagine a world with clouds, Ice capes, rivers, lakes and oceans of methane.

What would methane based life be like on such a cold world? I picture them being slow, long lived, fragile creature. If you were a visiting astronaut, your ship might melt any landing pad they had. Heat leaking from your suit could melt anyone of them near you, so you would have to check heat leaks. If your glove came off, your body heat from your hand would kill any of them near your (And your hand would instantly freeze).

What kind of technology would such creatures create? I doubt they could even melt metals. Perhaps they could find ways of creating technology with various ices and other volatiles.

Liquid water would be lava to them. Solid water would be like stone or steel.

Perhaps they could build ships out of water-ice, but they could never explorer their inner Planetary System. Escape velocity from their world my be low enough that some kind of chemical reaction thrust from their volatile elements might get them in orbit. Terrestrial planets would be out of their reach, for their star would melt their ships like a passing comet.

Their buildings might be made of water-ice. Perhaps they would find a cold, chemical way to produce light for their buildings.

Iron meteorites would be valuable (Rare), and probably enigmatic to them.[/color:post_uid0]

"Run for it? Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!"  -Earl Bassett


#2 2004-05-22 16:36:39

From: vancouver canada
Registered: 2004-03-24
Posts: 852

Re: Methane based life forms

[color=#000000:post_uid0]In our environment there is sufficient energy and chemical complexity. We are fortunately ready to move out to space.
Elsewhere, some other liquid than water might be the solvent for life's processes, such as liquid lead on Venus, or ammonia on the colder planets, but would the chemistry be limited to carbon ?
Life, inside the gas giant planets, without a chance to get out into space and access the rest of the universe ?[/color:post_uid0]


#3 2004-07-15 15:50:08

C M Edwards
From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Methane based life forms

[color=#000000:post_uid1]For all we know, a primitive civilization of intelligent beings could exist on Titan today.  The first analysis capable of telling otherwise began mere days ago with the arrival of the Cassini probe.

The only thing we have to suggest otherwise is a series of assumptions about biochemistry.  A long series of assumptions.[/color:post_uid1]

"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger


#4 2004-07-16 06:20:09

Shaun Barrett
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Methane based life forms

[color=#000000:post_uid4]Even at 'normal' terrestrial temperatures, multi-cellular life took about 4 billion years to develop on Earth. I've heard it argued that temperatures like those on Titan, approximately -180 deg.C, must slow chemical reactions to a point where they take many times longer to occur there than here.
    Reproduction would therefore be many times slower and, consequently, evolution would be proportionately sluggish.
    Even supposing life got started there in the first place, or that introduced bacteria from elsewhere were somehow able to adapt to the unbelievable cold, I strongly suspect it would still be in a very primitive stage of development.

    Mind you, I'm certainly no expert on cryobiology!   tongue[/color:post_uid4]

The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner


#5 2004-07-16 08:31:57

From: Kingston, Ontario
Registered: 2004-05-25
Posts: 39

Re: Methane based life forms

[color=#000000:post_uid0]Interestingly enough, the July 2004 issue of Scientific American talked about a theory that during the first two *billion* years on earth, the atmosphere was primarily methane, with CO2 coming next. There was next to no oxygen. Slowly, oxygen-producing organisms took over and produced the atmosphere that we have today. The methane decomposed due to the presence of the reactive oxygen. Makes you wonder what sort of planet we would have if this didn't happen eh?

Also: methane was a significant greenhouse gas, so even though the sun was only 70% of its brightness in the past, it was much warmer here on earth. I find this very cool...or, uh hot.[/color:post_uid0]


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