We can make things that work for a long time

300 million miles from Earth our creation is resurrected. We can solve extremely difficult problems.

Philae comet lander ‘wakes up’ from hibernation to resume Rosetta mission

Rosetta’s lander Philae has woken up after seven months in hibernation (ESA)

“Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available,” explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. “The lander is ready for operations.”

24 Watts – presumably until the sunlight runs out! What a lot you can do with 24 Watts if you are frugal.

We are good at getting a small team (about 2,000 in this case) to solve a huge technical challenge. Can we scale this up to deal with global warming and ocean acidification from CO2? The analysis was right, just as it is with the 97% of climate scientists.

Simple Arithmetic

I suspect lots of people have made estimates on this topic, but these folks have published it.

An Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere

They come up with 50 billion tonnes of DNA if all living organisms are included. So that’s 7 tonnes for each person on the planet, and that puts us in perspective! We need to take care of that 7 tonnes that is not us – we depend on it.

As we know, DNA encodes information about how to make things needed for life. They say this information would need the memory of 10^21 of the average memory of world’s 4 top supercomputers (which I work out as 1,180 TB). It would have been better had they just given the total memory that from this I get as 1.18 x 10^36 bytes.

They give about 5.3 x 10^31 mega base-pairs of DNA information for all organisms. Assuming that 2 bits are needed to specify one of the four base pairs, this suggests to me that 1.3 x 10^37 bytes are needed. So I differ by a factor of 10. I assume that I am wrong in some way, but simple arithmetic does have pitfalls.

Finally, they estimate the computational power of the biosphere as being the equivalent of 10^22 of the fastest supercomputer. This just shows the difference between serial processing and the parallel processing that we are not to good at yet. Maybe if we had a 32 qubit quantum computer we could compete with the biosphere, which provokes some deep questions.

Awesome science

This is why I find science psychedelic. Current microscope technology with computer imaging reveals biological structure of soft tissue that a decade ago nobody expected to exist in something 75,000,000 years old, which was not well preserved. This shows what we can achieve when we cooperate and collaborate and pool knowledge.

That we can do this reveals something of our mind.

75-million-year-old dinosaur blood and collagen discovered in fossil fragments

The detailed research paper: Fibres and cellular structures preserved in 75-million–year-old dinosaur specimens