8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

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8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

Post by Winnow »

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Anyone find it mind boggling that there are so many species on Earth? Estimates:

7.7 species of animals

298,000 species of plants

400,000 species of insects

43,271 species of fungi cataloged of an estimated 611,000 fungi on Earth

36,400 species of protozoa (single-cell organisms with animal-like behavior, eg. movement, of which 8,118 have been described and cataloged)

27,500 species of chromista (including, eg. brown algae, diatoms, water moulds, of which 13,033 have been described and cataloged)

a spoonful of soil contains around 10,000 different species of bacteria

15,000 new species cataloged on a yearly basis.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 180459.htm

As we discover new planets in other solar systems by the hundreds or thousands a year now, when you think of the possibility of discovering life, it's a no brainer but our planet alone has a bazillion species. Once the conditions for life are created, it seems life explodes in diversity. There are most likely at least a trillion planets, give or take a trillion trillion planets. More planets than stars most likely.

I find more articles recently discussing the possibility that universes are as plentiful as stars. It's easy to imagine a multiverse. Our universe may be what amounts to the size of an atom in some unimaginable larger "thing". Sense of scale is incomprehensible. Shrink yourself down to the size of an electron and the size of an atom is on scale with the size of the solar system to us.

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Most people don't realize how far away the Moon is from Earth until they see it to scale. We tend to limit scale to our sense of gravity on our planet.

Life isn't a miracle. There are most likely more planets than stars, there are probably more species of life than planets. Earth has 10+ million species. There would only have to be one species of life on every 10 millionth planet in the universe for my prediction to come true. But knowing how life explodes in diversity, I doubt it would (or could) be just one organism discovered on the same planet, satellite, etc.
Eight million, seven hundred thousand species (give or take 1.3 million).

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth -- the most precise calculation ever offered -- with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.
Having recently watched a special on deep sea life, that 2.2 million is probably way off the mark on the low end. There are some absolutely "alien" life forms living in the deep seas and sea floor.

I tend to think that life has no meaning. I would like for it to have meaning but faith will play no part. A human living and dying holds as much significance in the grand scheme of things as a single celled organism. With this in mind, finding something to keep your sanity is important in preserving your will to live and for the species to survive. My sanity check is the pursuit of knowledge. Ultimately, it's just an extension of the basic instinct to survive. Learning about "life, the universe, and everything", helps provide the tools to preserve the human race.

Ponder this from time to time and then go back to your daily routines. Think about it. Every human that's died up to the last person that died seconds ago means jack shit except for what knowledge they may have discovered and contributed to in the preservation/extension of the human species. What's the end goal? Maybe it's to die content that you fulfilled whatever goal you set out to accomplish in your lifetime...like have a family, not suffer too much before dying, etc. What's the long term goal? Colonize the stars? And then what?

There are two primary things you need to decide. What you feel is important to do during your lifetime and if you feel like contributing to the human race by adding to the knowledge base. Self preservation, species preservation, and just what in the hell keeps your sanity while you live? For most I would imagine it would be not thinking about the bigger picture. The easy way out is religion.

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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

Post by Asheran Mojomaster »

It is quite mind boggling isn't it? You are right that there are almost certainly more planets than stars, as the formation of a star will almost certainly leave enough matter to form planets around it. Our sun contains 99.8-99.9% of the matter in our solar system, but that .1-.2% of leftover matter was enough to form all of the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc.

Even if life arising spontaneously on a random planet is rare, that still would leave the possibility of life filled planets seeding others. There are many forms of bacteria, archaea, and even small animals that can survive incredibly harsh conditions, including the high radiation, wild temperature differences, and vacuum of space. With all of the asteroid, comet, etc. impacts to the Earth since life started, which resulted in large amounts of debris being launched deep into space, it seems very likely that some of these rocks would harbor viable organisms (in a dormant state maybe, or maybe even in an active state if sufficiently protected inside the debris and with the correct nutrients). All it would take for life to begin on another planet would be some of this debris impacting one that was suitable for the organism to live...and extremophiles often have a large range of conditions that they can thrive, and thus evolve, in.

So yes, you are correct. There is likely very little that is special about the Earth. Humans are likely as inconsequential (at the current time) as the most basic single celled organism. However, our potential to leave the Earth and begin impacting nearby solar systems, our galaxy, and potentially the universe could change that. I just wonder what we will find as we spread out. With the age of the Universe vs. the age of our solar system, I think it is quite arrogant and narrow minded to think that we are the first intelligent life with the ability to accomplish feats such as this. Hell, I would argue that it is likely that other organisms were already exploring the cosmos before our sun was born. The biggest question, in my opinion, is about physics. Is it actually possible to travel "faster" than the speed of light (or, at least reach other areas in space in less time than light would, but without actually MOVING faster than light...)? The answer to that question will determine how likely it is for any species to ever truly spread through the universe farther than to neighboring solar systems (though, I guess there would still be the option of sending seed crafts at slightly under the speed of light that are programmed to create fully developed examples of various species once they arrive, as that should be possible).

Space is always fun to think about, but I'll leave you with my favorite extremophile, the Tardigrade (Water Bear), which is actually a very small animal.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade
Tardigrades are able to survive in extreme environments that would kill almost any other animal, including:

Temperature – tardigrades can survive being heated for a few minutes to 151 °C (304 °F),[26] or being chilled for days at −200 °C (-328 °F).[26] Some can even survive cooling to −272 °C (~1 degree above absolute zero or -458 °F)[27] for a few minutes.
Pressure – they can withstand the extremely low pressure of a vacuum and also very high pressures, more than 1,200 times atmospheric pressure. Tardigrades can survive the vacuum of open space and solar radiation combined for at least 10 days.[28] Some species can also withstand pressure of 6,000 atmospheres, which is nearly six times the pressure of water in the deepest ocean trench, the Mariana trench.[18]
Dehydration – the longest that living tardigrades have been shown to survive in a dry state is nearly 10 years,[10][29] although there is one report of a leg movement, not generally considered "survival",[30] in a 120-year-old specimen from dried moss.[31] When exposed to extremely low temperatures, their body composition goes from 85% water to only 3%. As water expands upon freezing, dehydration ensures the tardigrades do not get ripped apart by the freezing ice.[32]
Radiation – tardigrades can withstand 1,000 times more radiation than other animals,[33] median lethal doses of 5,000 Gy (of gamma rays) and 6,200 Gy (of heavy ions) in hydrated animals (5 to 10 Gy could be fatal to a human).[34] The only explanation found in earlier experiments for this ability was that their lowered water state provides fewer reactants for the ionizing radiation.[35] However, subsequent research found that tardigrades, when hydrated, still remain highly resistant to shortwave UV radiation in comparison to other animals, and that one factor for this is their ability to efficiently repair damage to their DNA resulting from that exposure.[36]
Irradiation of tardigrade eggs collected directly from a natural substrate (moss) showed a clear dose-related response, with a steep decline in hatchability at doses up to 4 kGy, above which no eggs hatched.[37] The eggs were more tolerant to radiation late in development. No eggs irradiated at the early developmental stage hatched, and only one egg at middle stage hatched, while eggs irradiated in the late stage hatched at a rate indistinguishable from controls.[37]
Environmental toxins – tardigrades can undergo chemobiosis, a cryptobiotic response to high levels of environmental toxins. However, as of 2001, these laboratory results have yet to be verified.[30][31]
Outer space – tardigrades are the first known animal to survive in space. On September 2007, dehydrated tardigrades were taken into low Earth orbit on the FOTON-M3 mission carrying the BIOPAN astrobiology payload. For 10 days, groups of tardigrades were exposed to the hard vacuum of outer space, or vacuum and solar UV radiation.[3][38][39] After being rehydrated back on Earth, over 68% of the subjects protected from high-energy UV radiation revived within 30 minutes following rehydration, but subsequent mortality was high; many of these produced viable embryos.[28][40] In contrast, dehydrated samples exposed to the combined effect of vacuum and full solar UV radiation had significantly reduced survival, with only three subjects of Milnesium tardigradum surviving.[28] In May 2011, Italian scientists sent tardigrades on board the International Space Station along with other extremophiles on STS-134, the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour.[41][42][43] Their conclusion was that microgravity and cosmic radiation "did not significantly affect survival of tardigrades in flight, confirming that tardigrades represent a useful animal for space research."[44] In November 2011, they were among the organisms to be sent by the US-based Planetary Society on the Russian Fobos-Grunt mission's Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment to Phobos; however, the launch failed.
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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

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Asheran Mojomaster wrote: So yes, you are correct. There is likely very little that is special about the Earth. Humans are likely as inconsequential (at the current time) as the most basic single celled organism. However, our potential to leave the Earth and begin impacting nearby solar systems, our galaxy, and potentially the universe could change that. I just wonder what we will find as we spread out.
I suppose my point is that no matter what we do, we won't be any more special than any other organism. I mentioned above that my sanity check is the pursuit of knowledge. The question I always ask myself when we accomplish something is "what now?". No matter what we do as a species, I don't see a final purpose. Gaining knowledge and exploration seems like simply an advanced survival of species instinct.

While my view of the world may seem somewhat negative, I don't feel that way. I'm completely fascinated by science. While some may use religion as a crutch to keep their sanity, I find no need for it. Humans do need a purpose though, even if it's meaningless. An easy example are console achievements. They don't matter one bit but are still satisfying to achieve. There are also studies about single senior citizens living longer if they have a pet or plants to take care of.

Humans ultimately may not need to travel far themselves. Besides moving some of the population off of the Earth to avoid an extinction level event, with eventual advanced virtual reality, humans will probably rely on probes/robots sent out in all directions to explore while we stay somewhere in life pods experiencing everything via VR.

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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

Post by Asheran Mojomaster »

Winnow wrote:
Asheran Mojomaster wrote: So yes, you are correct. There is likely very little that is special about the Earth. Humans are likely as inconsequential (at the current time) as the most basic single celled organism. However, our potential to leave the Earth and begin impacting nearby solar systems, our galaxy, and potentially the universe could change that. I just wonder what we will find as we spread out.
I suppose my point is that no matter what we do, we won't be any more special than any other organism. I mentioned above that my sanity check is the pursuit of knowledge. The question I always ask myself when we accomplish something is "what now?". No matter what we do as a species, I don't see a final purpose. Gaining knowledge and exploration seems like simply an advanced survival of species instinct.

While my view of the world may seem somewhat negative, I don't feel that way. I'm completely fascinated by science. While some may use religion as a crutch to keep their sanity, I find no need for it. Humans do need a purpose though, even if it's meaningless. An easy example are console achievements. They don't matter one bit but are still satisfying to achieve. There are also studies about single senior citizens living longer if they have a pet or plants to take care of.

Humans ultimately may not need to travel far themselves. Besides moving some of the population off of the Earth to avoid an extinction level event, with eventual advanced virtual reality, humans will probably rely on probes/robots sent out in all directions to explore while we stay somewhere in life pods experiencing everything via VR.
My "sanity check" is the same as yours. I'm an INTP personality, so my primary goal in life is to build "my encyclopedia", as it is often described on the online INTP communities. That is a purpose, and I do not feel as if it is meaningless.

Unfortunately, I don't expect that my encyclopedia can be fully developed within a normal human lifespan. I'm banking on medical science allowing me to become immortal :p
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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

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Persistence of memory makes us pretty special among the critters of the Earth, and has the potential to make us even more special. We're still in the infancy of our civilization and science. We still squabble like monkeys and don't have a perfect grasp of the photon dance that comprises 99% of our daily experience.

But simply through the act of remembering we are standing on the shoulders of the greatest of our kind, and their works propel us onward as we each do our small part to advance.
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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

Post by Jice Virago »

The question you should be asking is does there need to be a purpose? Purpose implies design, which in tern implies creationist nonsense. We do not have any purpose beyond that which we establish for ourselves (as Ash alluded to). Life exists to perpetuate itself, but there is no inherent purpose behind it. The perpetuation is just a function of millions of years of natural selection establishing things that way. If it makes you feel any better, having a water bearing world in the sweet spot of the solar system, while being in a moderate part of the galaxy where severe background radiation from nearby failed stars is not fucking us over is somewhat fortunate.

And while most of what Masteen said is accurate (there are other animals with varying degrees of memory), what really sets us apart from the rest of life on this planet is that we are no longer subject to the standard forces of evolution. We control out environment and our medicine has advanced to such a degree that the normal process is essentially suspended for us. Of course this is not entirely good, because it means we keep a lot of the weak or infirm in the gene pool, but it is overall a net positive. The big issue for the species at this point is getting past the point of superstitions and greed so that we actually make it off of this fucking rock before we completely deplete it.

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War is an option whose time has passed. Peace is the only option for the future. At present we occupy a treacherous no-man's-land between peace and war, a time of growing fear that our military might has expanded beyond our capacity to control it and our political differences widened beyond our ability to bridge them. . . .

Short of changing human nature, therefore, the only way to achieve a practical, livable peace in a world of competing nations is to take the profit out of war.
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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

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Re: 8.7 Million Species on earth + or - 1.3 Million

Post by Winnow »

Jice Virago wrote:The question you should be asking is does there need to be a purpose?
Nice pararaphs.

I'm not seeking out a purpose and don't think humans need a purpose. I personally need a sanity check specifically because we have no grand purpose.

I read another article concerning the growing popularity behind the theory that there are multiple universes. I've mentioned this for years, even on this board. Why not?

Why should our universe be the only one with empty space everywhere else? Think of it this way...

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Pangaea, the great super continent from the past before the break up and drift that resulted in the continents we see today. You always see this portrayed as above but think about the entire Earth...most of it completely void of any land except for the one land mass oddly stuck together. It makes no sense. Why would all of the land mass above water form in one clump, leaving the rest of the Earth with nothing?

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Now consider this. Shrink the Earth a bit and Pangaea covers most of the Earth's surface. With this in mind, consider how fucking huge the dinosaurs were...and not just Dinosaurs. There was plant life so massive that it wouldn't be able to support itself in today's gravity. A smaller Earth with less gravity goes a long way in making more sense out of how the gigantic dinosaurs could even stand under their own mass, much less walk.

What makes more sense? an ancient mega continent in one big clump with the overwhelming majority of the rest of the Earth left with nothing, or an original mega continent that covered most of the Earth and then broke apart as the Earth expanded while gaining much of it's water supply from comets, also allowing for a weaker gravity which would explain the impossible size of dinosaurs and other life.

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We see what we want to see. The Earth was once thought to be flat. People accept Pangaea as a clump of land that somehow formed in one spot on the Earth...makes no sense to me.

As for multiple universes, we can only speculate but why not? If I had to choose, I'd pick multiple universes as everything else that we know of comes in duplicates...atoms, cells, humans, stars, galaxies...why not universes? I think the more radical choice would be to stick to a single universe because that goes against everything else that we can observe first hand, that there is more than one of everything.

As for another sanity check. Whether we die in 100 years or a billion years, we are still going to die. We can prolong the inevitable but can't stop it (yet). Addressing death and your own purpose/goal in life is what makes humans not special, but unique of the species we're aware of to this point. It's possible cetaceans, elephants, etc also go through similar meaning of life crisis and we don't yet understand it.

When it comes to contact with an alien race/entity, I imagine humans aren't interesting enough to make contact with. Having nuclear capability means nothing except that we can destroy ourselves. Depending where or how an alien presence/race/being/entity exists, it may not matter if humans destroyed the entire Milky Way Galaxy...after all, it's one of trillions of galaxies...and right now we can barely manage destroying our own planet, much less anything else significant to the "universe". You don't see humans trying to make any other race on Earth sentient. Why would something on a level magnitudes higher than our own, bother to even acknowledge us? I'm guessing that the highest level of beings would be some sort of energy matter with no body, etc. Even humans are rapidly moving away from using their bodies and more into virtual realities.

So when it comes to contact with anything else "out there", my opinion is that the stage we're at is too short a time for two different alien races to be close enough in the same galaxy to encounter each other before moving on to some higher form of life/energy where our stage of development wouldn't be worth interacting with.

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