Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life inside the Sun

Here's a thought-provoking question:
Is there life inside the middle of the sun???

Although it sounds like a silly question, it should not be an easily brushed off question.

By life, I mean a self-replicating mechanism for increasing the rate of entropy production of a system far-from-equilibrium.

So, is the Sun a non-equilibrium environment? Yes
There is a non-equilibrium composition of hydrogen. In equilibrium, the composition would contain significantly more helium...and, well, eventually iron.

Is it a linear non-equilibrium environment? (Such as linear gradient in temperature) No
The Sun is far from equilibrium because the actual composition of hydrogen is far from the eventual composition (helium or iron).

So, we know that there are currents inside the Sun's Radiative Zone (like free convection currents) that aid in the transport of energy from the center of Sun to the photosphere.

The question is: is the center of the Sun far enough away from equilibrium that self-replicating processes can thrive?

For example, bacteria on Earth use catalysts to speed up the process converting sugars into CO2 and H2O. The energy derived in the oxidation process is used to grow more bacteria.

In the Sun's Core, there are also catalysts (such as carbon) that are used to speed up the process of converting hydrogen into helium. Is there someway to store the energy derived in the 4H to He process? If so, could the stored energy be used to create a copy of the "machine" that sped up the conversion of H to He?

While we are used to life being hydrocarbon-based, I think that we need to look outside of the box and extend our search for life in the universe. If life is defined as self-replicating mechanisms that increase the rate of entropy production in systems far from equilibrium, then we may have a much better chance of finding life than if we focus just on looking for plants and animals on other planets.

Let me know what you think.


[Note: see comment below and the following post. Right now, I'm less inclined to think that replicating structures exist in the center of the sun. Though, there are probably some dynamic structures in there even more complex than Jupiter's Red Eye.]

2 comments:

  1. This is quite plausible in my opinion. Many billions of years ago the strong force was the dominant force, but the time scale was totally different from us where the EM force dominates. The strong force era may have lasted only a few years in our relative time, but in terms of interactions per unit time it could have been hundreds of billions of years in our time. There was probably just as much emergent structure and life in the strong era as our electromagnetic era, so life from that era might still reside in places in our current universe where the strong force still dominates. Not sure if the center of the sun has the strong or weak force dominant, but the same idea still holds.

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  2. I agree with your thinking.
    I think that we should be focusing on life as structures within non-linear differential equations (structures with extremely complicated symmetries...symmetries that have the capability of self-reference...like automorphisms)
    These symmetries could appear under certain conditions, but I don't think that this conditions need to involve certain molecules, like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen.

    I think that life is more general than the forms of life we see on this planet.

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