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JackDole
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Astrobiology in Space Engine

22 Sep 2018 00:32

Nahor wrote:
Source of the post I hope someday we can see such *trees* in SpaceEngine! 8-)

The problem is, we do not know if trees are anywhere but on Earth. If there is any such thing as trees elsewhere, they will probably look completely different. :|
But there are certainly reflecting water surfaces on faraway planets.
(We do not know if there is life anywhere else in the universe. :?)
 
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22 Sep 2018 09:35

JackDole wrote:
Nahor wrote:
Source of the post I hope someday we can see such *trees* in SpaceEngine! 8-)

The problem is, we do not know if trees are anywhere but on Earth. If there is any such thing as trees elsewhere, they will probably look completely different. :|

So what? We don't know what the other planets look like, what they are made of, where they are, we don't know what the vast majority of the galaxies look like, ... SE is mostly made-up stuff generated from a pseudo-random function which has no bearing with reality. Only a very very insignificant portion of what SE shows is based on actual observation.
As for trees, while we don't know if vegetation/flora is common, "form follows function" means they are likely to look somewhat familiar if they do exist.
And given how much more it would make planet hunting, I, for one, would have no problem whatsoever with made-up vegetation :D.
 
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22 Sep 2018 16:41

Nahor wrote:
Source of the post So what? We don't know what the other planets look like, what they are made of, where they are, we don't know what the vast majority of the galaxies look like, ... SE is mostly made-up stuff generated from a pseudo-random function which has no bearing with reality.

This is not really correct. Just because Space Engine is procedural does not make it any less realistic! It uses statistic random sampling based off of a given set of variables to generate its systems. These are based off of actual astronomical observations done and verified by astronomers. Any inaccuracies are the fault of the limitations of the engine itself, not lazy programming! Spaceengineer should know, as he was an astronomer by career before he started to create the simulator.

As for what exoplanets look like, what they are made of and so forth, we actually know a lot. We know that the laws of physics, chemistry and geology are constant throughout the universe (aside from very remote parts like 13 billion years ago when the universe was young), and thus will shape planets the same way they do here in our solar-system. Using these scientific tools, drawing inspiration from our solar-system's planets and with help from direct observations made by the likes of the Kepler space telescope, we can easily predict how a distant system will behave. Any anomalies can be encompassed retrospectively. This is the scientific method.

By understanding the laws of nature and encoding them within such given templates as thermodynamics or the four fundamental electromagnetic forces, we can make observations and repeatable experiments until we have the undisputed truth. Why then should exoplanets be so alien and drastically different just because they are further away? Yes we do not have super-earths or hot jupiters in our solar-system, and our sun is not a red dwarf or a blue hypergiant, but using the predictive power of the scientific method allows us to make plausible guesses (utilizing oft indirect phenomena, like the mass of the planet to determine its atmosphere), that we increasingly sophisticate and refine until we have an explanation for what we observe and can explain its behavior.

As an example, we now know what the atmospheric compositions of hot jupiters and brown dwarfs are made of via such methods as spectrography and radio astronomy, which were established by the scientific givens described above. Incidentally they are also what Space Engine uses for its random sampling.

The only problem with Space Engine is that it continually has to play catch-up to newer discoveries, insuring that no two versions will be same or up to date.
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22 Sep 2018 23:43

You know what they say about lies and statistics.

But jokes aside, I did not intent to convey that the SE universe was groundless. But while we know what the universe is at a macro level, we do not know what it is like at the micro level. There is no planet at coordinate X-Y-Z, and if there was, it's likely not of the same composition as what SE chose, and if by any chance it was anyway, oceans, continents, rivers wouldn't have those shapes. SE universe is realistic, but it is not real.

And so flora could be added base on the same sort of theories. Not truth sure, but not purely random either (although the margin of error would be quite high given the lack of samples to validate those theories). The real issue though is that SE is an astronomy software, not a biology one :p
 
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23 Sep 2018 05:51

Nahor wrote:
Source of the post The real issue though is that SE is an astronomy software, not a biology one

Then perhaps we should remove all "planets with life" from Space Engine?

I think considerations of astrobiology are important in a universe simulator.  We might know very little about how common life is, but it's probably a lot more realistic (and interesting) to have some rather than none besides Earth.  Similarly, it's probably a lot more realistic (and interesting) to portray some sort of flora on some planet surfaces than to have only deserts.  Space Engine already shows vegetation with green (and sometimes other colors) on the planets with life.  Do you also propose removing them?
 
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Astrobiology in Space Engine

23 Sep 2018 09:33

Watsisname wrote:
Nahor wrote:
Source of the post The real issue though is that SE is an astronomy software, not a biology one

Then perhaps we should remove all "planets with life" from Space Engine?

There was a ":p" smiley at the end of my sentence. The whole thread started because I said I couldn't wait to see trees. So no, I'm not suggesting that we don't put flora on planets, only that I could understand why SpaceEngineer wouldn't want to tackle the feature any time soon.
 
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Astrobiology in Space Engine

23 Sep 2018 10:17

Oh goodness, I completely mixed up the conversation (I think because I had jumped across 2 pages and mixed up who said what).  Plus being tired didn't help.  My apologies. :)
 
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Astrobiology in Space Engine

23 Sep 2018 20:29

Nahor wrote:
Source of the post I could understand why SpaceEngineer wouldn't want to tackle the feature any time soon.

But still something great to talk about. Lets not stop. By the way, I was looking for a thread just like this one JackDole! I was going to make my own tackling the issue of astrobiology in SE. Mostly for discussing the possibilities of how it might be represented in the engine and some spitball ideas as to how it could coded, but I could just use this one for discussion.
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Astrobiology in Space Engine

24 Sep 2018 01:05

Okay I'm back, I had to do other stuff before I dove into this.

Portraying extraterrestrial life in SE should be within scientific reason, encompassing our best guesses of what extraterrestrial life might be like (obviously this will change as science progresses), at all possible taking a conservative stance on such subjects like intelligent life. It is a simulator after all. I mean, if alien civilizations were all so common and it was so easy to get to K2 or 3, surely one of them would have a galaxy-spanning civilization that even a backwater world like ours could detect by their activity alone. That is the Fermi Paradox after all, but I digress.

The main aim of my idea for SE would be to:

a) describe alien life on a planet to as much a level of detail as possible, without actually modelling their physical appearance.

and

b) to program that description to be realistic within the framework of the planet's environment and position relative to its region in space. For example, complex multicellular life would have a filter applied to its generation code that inhibited it from being generated in a solar-system that resides in a stellar region near a supernova remnant, since it would have been knocked back into extinction by the nearby explosion and its attributed radiation dose.

This is very much an "Encyclopedia Galactica", as envisioned by Carl Sagan and his artistic associate Jon Lomburg:

cs.jpg
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It would use the real chemistry and biology in the generator that made life on our planet the way it is, but subjected to the different environments and timescales found on other planets. Such discoveries like the XNAs (or Xeno-nucleic acids; alternative or alien DNA) would certainly make food for thought. Basically, it would greatly expand the already existing template for life in SE: "Temperate Terra with multicellular life (Aquatic,Terrestrial)".

Where might this entry for the planet be placed? It could go in the planetary details window, but it would interesting to have a completely separate window for this with all the info regarding the properties of the alien life in question. If no life is present on the world, then have some details as to why not (the planet is too young, it orbits to close to its sun, its sun type is wrong etc).

This new window could also have a "human habitability" rating, based off of things like the planetary atmospheric composition, mass, temperature and sun type. If anything, this would be a great addition to the game engine itself regardless of an alien life addon, since users on this forum are always asking if we humans could live on this 'rad new planet they discovered'.

The most common type of life could probably be carbon-based, water-thalassogenic abiogenesis-generated unicellular or simplistic multicelllar life, for the simple fact that it is what exists on Earth, the only planet we know for sure has life. Stick to what you know after all. Much more rare are non-H2O solvent life-forms (ex. ethane for low-temperature environments), utilizing a different element matrix for their biology (ex. silicones for high temperature environments). This would be that 'exotic' life we always find on SE titan-like worlds. Theorectical yes, but Titans with life were already in SE to begin with and the game would be lacking without them :).

Perhaps also intelligent life would be rare, and rarer still is advanced life that has become space-faring. The fast-disappearing ruins of extinct civilizations may be the most players will encounter for a long time. 

With all this info, a user interface would be useful. Players could edit how common life is for them in their SE, and even have the classic 'space opera' type universe. I believe you can already sort of do this with SE.

Sigh. When all is said and done, my attempt to simplify the issue of alien life as portrayed in Space Engine to something short of actually modelling the ETs appears to be just as complex, if not more so. In my want for an avoidance of a nightmarish No Mans Sky life-form generator (*shudders*), I may have fallen into the trap of demanding an impossibility from the [color=#8e44ad]SpaceEngineer and any future programmers he hires for the official release of the game. I know things like this are on the To-Do list, but I thought the very least I could do is offer a concept that I would love to see implemented into the game. And in the end, it is just that, a concept. I wish I had more expertise with creating mods for SE. If I did, I would start the epic task of programming something like this myself right now.   [/color]
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