Is man made life possible?

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Is man made life possible?

Postby scottchat on November 26th, 2015, 12:59 am 

On a previous post I put forth the idea that life might consist of four major factors: matter, electrical field, the right environment and evolution. Given these ingredients life might occur. Such a proposition is testable. We can substitute human engineering of the right matter for evolution. All the others can be achieved in a lab. Thoughts?
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby Eclogite on November 26th, 2015, 3:39 am 

I think your fixation on this combination is inaccurate, misleading and unhelpful.

Matter: It is self evident that life as we know it requires matter. (We are hardly in a position to consider creating "life as we do not know it".) Consequently, no valuable conclusions arise from the statement that life requires matter. It is the kind of matter and its potential for interaction that is relevant.

Electric Field: You have failed completely to demonstrate that an electric field is an essential ingredient of life, rather than occasional byproduct.

Environment:This is the one relevant portion of your quartet.

Evolution:While evolution is a process that life follows, the creation of life - which is what your are proposing - precedes evolution and thus evolution is irrelevant to that "making of life".

The creation of man-made life is not currently, but may soon be, possible. This is not, however, related to your four pillars.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby scottchat on November 28th, 2015, 8:09 pm 

Evolution may predate life if you include a long period of soupy time when bits and pieces of material were joining together and interacting but not yet life. We agree matter is essential and leave it to those who study this to tell us what kind of matter. We agree that electrical impulses are needed for us but we would never be the ones to prove anything about whether an electrical field was part of life. We agree that man-made life should be possible so long as life consists of matter and ? that we can bring into a lab. It seems we are more on the same page than one might suspect from reading the above. Thank you for your response.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby Eclogite on November 28th, 2015, 10:44 pm 

scottchat » Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:09 pm wrote:Evolution may predate life if you include a long period of soupy time when bits and pieces of material were joining together and interacting but not yet life.
This is true if you mean evolution in the same sense as the evolution of the galaxy, or the evolution of the solar system. If we mean - as a discussion of life should mean - biological evolution, then the absence of heritable characteristics should exclude pre-biotic chemical developments. (I concede that if Cairns-Smith's clay templates are how life arose then you could extend evolution to the pre-organic phase.)

scottchat » Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:09 pm wrote:We agree matter is essential and leave it to those who study this to tell us what kind of matter. .
I don't understand the need for your caveat. Are you unsure as to what kind of matter is required?

scottchat » Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:09 pm wrote:We agree that electrical impulses are needed for us but we would never be the ones to prove anything about whether an electrical field was part of life..
The point is you are singling out an aspect of life while ignoring other important aspects. Why do you think electrical impulses are more important than protein folding?

scottchat » Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:09 pm wrote: We agree that man-made life should be possible so long as life consists of matter and ? that we can bring into a lab.
I do not see the need for the question mark, unless it is a proxy for knowledge.


scottchat » Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:09 pm wrote: It seems we are more on the same page than one might suspect from reading the above.
We may be on the same page, but you appear to be moving sentences and paragraphs around and elevating footnotes to headline status. The result appears to me to be an altogether different story.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby wolfhnd on November 29th, 2015, 1:01 am 

Science gets closer to artificial life with first synthetic chromosome

"Scientists have previously made chromosomes for bacteria and viruses but this is the first time they've been able to build a chromosome for something more complex. Called eukaryotic chromosomes, they have a nucleus and are found in plants, animals and humans."

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-ha ... 1553312707

It took a computer and seven years to build a successful piece of artificial chromosome. People totally underestimate the complexity of even the simplest life form. In evolution it is the time factor that leads to complexity so creating "life" the same way as natural selection did it would take an equivalent amount of time and is therefor totally impractical. Building it molecule by molecule seems the only reasonable alternative but what would be the purpose?

In general I think it is better to ask how alive a virus is than if it is alive or not. Life is best describe as self organizing systems where information is used to capture energy and the system reproduces itself. Viruses are almost alive but they lack the ability to reproduce themselves independently. Viruses are just blobs of chemicals but then life is just a blob of chemicals. Chemicals that evolved in stars. I think there is a clear continuity from the big bang to life because well we are here. There is nothing to suggest that life has any special characteristic from dead matter other than organization and complexity as far as I know and the secret to that complexity seems to be time and compounding complexity.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby Serpent on November 29th, 2015, 1:44 am 

Okay, so you get all the ingredients together. You estimate the correct proportions and concentrations, the probable optimum temperature and pressure. You throw in random heat surges and simulated lightning strikes - because I doubt you can figure out the exact right electrical input. Then you wait four or five million years... No, you keep making minute adjustments to the variables and taking notes of the combinations that didn't work, in order to speed up the process.

Then, finally - Bingo! The protein string wiggles out of the too-hot zone, settles in a pool of high nutrient concentration and starts replicating.

Now what?
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby wolfhnd on November 29th, 2015, 2:31 am 

"Evolution:While evolution is a process that life follows, the creation of life - which is what your are proposing - precedes evolution and thus evolution is irrelevant to that "making of life"."

I suppose the question is if the evolution that proceeds life is evolution. We tend to want various definitions of evolution but the key feature is self organization. We see self organization in all forms of matter so I do not see why people are so persnickety on this point. What happens in stars is called evolution because new elements are formed out of simpler elements. The environment selects which elements will be formed the difference seems to be in peoples concept of randomness. Is the environment any more or less random in biological evolution than in stellar evolution? I don't think we have the knowledge to determine such things at the moment.

Moving on to the question of the relationship between electricity and life there are a few things we can add. Life as we know it is dependent on water and you can argue that dielectric constant properties of water are an essential element in the formation of life as we know it. Water is the best medium of electric ionization and remains very stable in various changes in solvents. Although we can imagine life forming under different circumstances we don't know of any.

Here is an interesting article on what makes life tick.

This Bacterium Can Survive on Electricity Alone

"Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form—naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity."

"While the immediate applications are obvious—for example, better biomachines (or self-powered devices) for human use—the findings could also tell us what life’s “bare minimum” is. In other words, at what amount of energy does life begin?"

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/natur ... ity-alone/
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby scottchat on November 29th, 2015, 1:51 pm 

The above is very interesting.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby wolfhnd on November 29th, 2015, 2:42 pm 

scottchat » Sun Nov 29, 2015 5:51 pm wrote:The above is very interesting.


Scot I don't really understand what you are trying to say I'm just trying to provide examples of related topics that you may find interesting. Physics, chemistry and biology are related topics after all :-) so I see no reason not to explore your ideas in more detail.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby Eclogite on November 30th, 2015, 12:57 pm 

wolfhnd » Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:31 am wrote:I suppose the question is if the evolution that proceeds life is evolution. We tend to want various definitions of evolution but the key feature is self organization. We see self organization in all forms of matter so I do not see why people are so persnickety on this point. What happens in stars is called evolution because new elements are formed out of simpler elements. The environment selects which elements will be formed the difference seems to be in peoples concept of randomness. Is the environment any more or less random in biological evolution than in stellar evolution? I don't think we have the knowledge to determine such things at the moment.
You are correct that the word evolution is used to mean a variety of things. The relevant meaning is determined by the context.

In the biological context evolution means neo-Darwinian evolution. Implicit in this is not simply self organisation, but heritability. Pre-biotic molecular development did not seemingly contain heritable characteristics. If you wish to use evolution to refer to those developments then it should, I believe, be referred to as pre-biotic evolution in order to avoid confusion.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby wolfhnd on November 30th, 2015, 9:04 pm 

Eclogite » Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:57 pm wrote:
wolfhnd » Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:31 am wrote:I suppose the question is if the evolution that proceeds life is evolution. We tend to want various definitions of evolution but the key feature is self organization. We see self organization in all forms of matter so I do not see why people are so persnickety on this point. What happens in stars is called evolution because new elements are formed out of simpler elements. The environment selects which elements will be formed the difference seems to be in peoples concept of randomness. Is the environment any more or less random in biological evolution than in stellar evolution? I don't think we have the knowledge to determine such things at the moment.
You are correct that the word evolution is used to mean a variety of things. The relevant meaning is determined by the context.

In the biological context evolution means neo-Darwinian evolution. Implicit in this is not simply self organisation, but heritability. Pre-biotic molecular development did not seemingly contain heritable characteristics. If you wish to use evolution to refer to those developments then it should, I believe, be referred to as pre-biotic evolution in order to avoid confusion.


Fair enough if I remember :-)

What I was trying to do was address what I'm guessing the real question is which I will state.

Given the right physical conditions will pre biotic evolution always lead to biological evolution?

To which I answer absolutely although I can't prove it. Those right conditions however are impractical to create in a lab for obvious reasons.

After getting to know Scott better it is clear he is searching for some characteristic of life that we have traditionally refereed to as spiritual. I don't believe however that the ability to create life in a "test tube" rules out spirituality. It's all in the definitions I'm afraid and that is in part why I use evolution so broadly. I'm leaning toward some version of panpsychism myself but minus the soul.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby neuro on December 1st, 2015, 3:42 am 

Wolfhnd,
is it possible that the "psychic"/spiritual factor in your panpsychism simply be free energy and the second principle of thermodynamics?

It would be an interesting perspective, because it implies death (tendency to disorder, precariousness of order) and the possibility of life itself (if you can exploit energy flow toward entropy to produce-reproduce an ordered system, by means of a code and a dynamic biochemical reader of such code, capable to gather from the outside, use and release energy).

It is as if energy, in its inevitable flow toward entropy, were willing (obliged) to exploit every possible path - like water when it finds any possible way through your roof - even though some of the paths implied building wonderful examples of order (the same way as water, in falling down a waterfall, can sustain work, order, light, heaters and telephones in a town).
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby wolfhnd on December 1st, 2015, 4:26 am 

neuro » Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:42 am wrote:Wolfhnd,
is it possible that the "psychic"/spiritual factor in your panpsychism simply be free energy and the second principle of thermodynamics?

It would be an interesting perspective, because it implies death (tendency to disorder, precariousness of order) and the possibility of life itself (if you can exploit energy flow toward entropy to produce-reproduce an ordered system, by means of a code and a dynamic biochemical reader of such code, capable to gather from the outside, use and release energy).

It is as if energy, in its inevitable flow toward entropy, were willing (obliged) to exploit every possible path - like water when it finds any possible way through your roof - even though some of the paths implied building wonderful examples of order (the same way as water, in falling down a waterfall, can sustain work, order, light, heaters and telephones in a town).


I'm not the most cleaver of individuals so it is not so much what I know as what I don't know. After watching a few physicists who didn't appear to be crazy talk about a 2 dimensional universe in which information is portrayed as the stuff everything is made of I decided I would try the idea on for awhile. Admittedly I have no idea what they are talking about but for me it resolves a lot of issues concerning time and space. It's not a variation of the universe being the thoughts of god because god does not exist in their view but it is similar.

In our everyday experience of life the only thing that comes into existence and goes out of existence without leaving a trace is information. Well that is until Landauer's principle was tested and now we know or think we have demonstrated that erasing information releases heat in agreement with thermodynamics.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v4 ... 10872.html

The reason all this interests me is the apparent non locality of information and the fact that information is not information until it moves. I have been devoting my time to other things so I can't really explore here in any intelligent way the significance or possible insignificance of these ideas.

The answer then is yes the second law of thermodynamics would seem to need satisfying even in a panpsychic universe. Which of course means a new term should be used to replace panpsychism such as?
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby scottchat on December 1st, 2015, 2:11 pm 

To be information does information need someone (something) to inform or be informed? Does information have an existence without a vast amount of other requirements being in place?
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby wolfhnd on December 1st, 2015, 11:00 pm 

There Is Growing Evidence that Our Universe Is a Giant Hologram

"The holographic principle was first postulated over 20 years ago as a possible solution to Stephen Hawking’s famous “information paradox.” (The paradox is essentially that black holes appear to swallow information, which, according to quantum theory, is impossible.) But while the principle was never mathematically formalized for black holes, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena demonstrated several years later that holography did indeed hold for a theoretical type of space called anti-de Sitter space. Unlike the space in our universe, which is relatively flat on cosmic scales, anti-de Sitter space as described by mathematicians curves inward like a saddle."

“Anti-de Sitter space is not directly relevant to our universe, but it allows us to perform calculations that would otherwise be very difficult if not impossible,” Grumiller said.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/there- ... t-hologram

Keep in mind the second quote because what we are talking about is a representation of reality not reality itself.

Some people would argue that we experience reality directly but I would argue that we only experience reality as represented by our brains. One human insight that is consistent over time has been that an idea is more real than the "thing" being contemplated. This insight has mislead many a "deep" thinker into believing that we can transcend reality so to speak but that is an illusion. Our symbols may be perfect but they are not perfect reflections of reality. As they said in the article it is a question of resolution. The picture on your TV is not "real" but the higher the resolution the more real it is.

In any case you will need someone much brighter than me to take this idea any deeper.
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Matter’s intent towards life is obvious

Postby scottchat on December 2nd, 2015, 2:59 pm 

Why does matter lead to life? We can see the random patterns in the universe down through Earth that matter takes on its path to life. There is nothing ordained about what kind of life will emerge, only that in some cases it will (one case we know of and until the star ship gets back releasing it’s menagerie of alien creatures we will have to be content with one example). I am thinking that the patterns themselves are proof of intent towards life. “Circular thinking” some will say so as to ignore any cause and effect of matter taking a random natural course to life in some environments. “Who’s intent” others will say so as to dismiss this thought as god based and therefore unprovable. If we see footprints in the sand we can surmise that a human passed this way. Others will say there is no proof of a human and the footprints could have happened “naturally.” Given the footprints (patterns) the case for a human passing is stronger. The case for patterns of matter leading to life is stronger than ignoring the patterns and saying life arose naturally (as though “naturally” doesn’t have some connotations). Given the patterns the argument that there is intent for matter to lead toward life is stronger than “it just happened” naturally. Oh horrors, if the word “intent” gets accepted it will be the end of ??? Matter’s intent towards life is obvious as proven by the patterns.
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Re: Matter’s intent towards life is obvious

Postby Natural ChemE on December 2nd, 2015, 6:41 pm 

scottchat » December 2nd, 2015, 1:59 pm wrote:Why does matter lead to life?

Short version
If the universe has random processes, and a potential outcome of those random processes is a life form, then any sufficiently old universe should have had life eventually emerge. However since life can also die out (extinction), even very old universes don't necessarily contain life.

Long version
It doesn't necessarily lead to life. Just, if it's allowed to do random stuff for long enough, one of the random things it can do is form into a self-replicating pattern. We call these self-replicating patterns life. Self-replicating patterns are a possible outcome in certain universes.

If you had an older Windows computer, from Windows 3.x to Windows 98, you may've played the pre-installed games that included a version of Conway's Game of Life. Also, you can probably download a copy of it for free on the Windows 10 store or whatever system you're currently using; it's a pretty simple program.

This game was a simple implementation of cellular automaton. It took place in a universe with two spacial dimensions (so 2D instead of 3D) and one temporal dimension. Both space and time are granular with matter having only two forms: white (void) or black (matter).
  1. Since time is 1-D granular, you could enumerate all frames of time by .
  2. Since space is 2-D granular, you could enumerate all grid positions by and .
  3. Since there are only two states, we can describe them as Boolean values TRUE and FALSE or, equivalently, with 's and 's.
  4. Since (i), (ii), and (iii), the entire universe can be described as the set of states , where:
    • can equal (for white/void) or (for black/matter).
    • describes the time.
    • describes the row spatial position.
    • describes the column spatial position.
This universe has physics that describe the progression from one state , to the next, . This universe's physics is local and simply causal, i.e. can be fully predicted from the set of states a moment before it in its immediate space, . Specifically, the physics are:
  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbors dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbors lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbors dies, as if by over-population.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.
So here was the basic question: is this simple universe able to have life emerge from some starting state? Apparently the answer is yes through intelligent design.

However, say that some guy didn't get bored enough to design this system. Rather, this universe existed and had some randomness to it; sometimes cells just flipped states. For example, let's say that we amended a fifth physical axiom to the system:
  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbors dies, as if caused by under-population.
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbors lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbors dies, as if by over-population.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.
  5. After the cell state is determined by the prior rules, it has a chance to randomly flipping to the other state, as if by a random fluctuation.
Then if is between 0% and 100% - let's say for a relatively stable universe since has an effect like the random mutation potential of radiation, and radiation hardening makes stuff confusing. In our own universe, scientists suspect that life is unlikely in the center of galaxies since the high levels of radiation are sterilizing since it breaks down fundamental structures like human DNA. When radiation isn't overly harsh, i.e. is pretty small, then lifeforms like humans can use self-repair mechanisms when one of their states is randomly flipped by the Fifth Law of Physics (as enumerated above).

Then in a universe in which there are such mutations, we can say that no initial design was needed; run the universe for long enough, and life will eventually emerge by random chance (more).

Scientists looking for aliens sometimes use the Drake equation,
    ,
to predict how likely other civilizations are. The argument's a simple Bayesian projection, arguing that the expected number of alien civilizations currently broadcasting detectable signals is equal to:
  1. : the length of time that those civilizations are releasing detectable signals;
  2. : for each star in a given time period;
  3. : but only for those stars that have planets;
  4. : times the number of planets they might have;
  5. : but only if those planets can support life;
  6. : but only if that life goes on to be intelligent;
  7. : but only if that intelligent life creates civilizations that produce detectable signals.
This is, we figure that life might emerge on planets, so we're guessing how many detectable alien civilizations might be out there based on the probabilities that would lead up to those civilizations randomly emerging. Then the final result, , is our best guess as to how many signals we should be able to find.

The point here is that scientists tend to work on the basis that life can emerge from matter such as that found on planets around stars in our galaxy. The chance that life might emerge on a given planet is quantified as the factor in the Drake equation.

Advanced notes
The below comments are not practically accessible to general readers.

Above I discussed concepts related to randomness. This explanation relied on the historical perspective that there is some sort of fundamental distinction between randomness and pseudo-randomness. Today we know that there is no "true randomness"; all randomness is necessarily pseudo-random under some sufficiently general ontology, even if that sufficiently general ontology is unknowable. This is, all universes are necessarily fully deterministic; there are absolutely no possible exceptions, though standing descriptions such as the Copenhagen interpretation are still useful in the same sense that Newtonian physics is.
    Example:
      You live in a universe effected by a computer simulation. The laws of physics involve some random factor, , such as in the above Fifth Law of Physics. If you had some means of understanding the outer universe's physics and how was determined, you could describe your own universe as fully deterministic. However, in the absence of this knowledge - which may be "almost" fundamentally unacquirable - the subjective approximation of "true" randomness can be adequate. However, even if your God - the programmer of your universe - intended for pseudo-randomness to be effectively "true", they would be unable to effect this design intent as it would rely on them having complete knowledge of their own universe such that they could absolutely know there to be no unintended correlations for you to find. And, as best we can tell, programmers cannot escape incompleteness. This has weird implications, e.g. if we make virtual AI's in a simulated world, we cannot be certain that they couldn't escape the intended computational domain through imperfections by exploiting our failure to fully contain them as separability can never be known to be perfect due to incompleteness.
Because there is no true randomness, our universe is, at some level, necessarily fully determined. This observation is generally inappropriate because it leads folks into confusion about free will, intelligent design, etc., making it toxic to general audiences.

At my current level of understanding, I would say that the question "Why?" literally means, "Explain this concept to me as a reduction from a more fundamental framework." Until some more fundamental framework is determined, the question of intelligent design is literally meaningless nonsense; there is no answer to provide.

Nor could there be. Ultimately the perception of intelligence is itself a subjective thing, the practical existence of general intelligence in humans notwithstanding. For example, we can say that a rock is a God-like being of ultimate power and intelligence; that, knowing All, it simply opts to be as a rock.

Logic is fundamentally incomplete, so the question of whether or not the universe was ultimately "designed" is fundamentally meaningless. Even if we did find a God, then that God would be in the same boat that we are; alternatively, if we didn't find a God but rather an apparently complete theory of everything, we'd be fundamentally unable to ever be certain that the theory would continue to be correct across the space of all existence, e.g. forever more. There's no escape from incompleteness.

My personal theory is that sufficiently advanced societies practice computational imperialism. This is, since gaining control over the degrees of freedom in a space require that space's physics to be computable, expanding into skew spaces requires building computers incorporating components from those spaces. Practically we're beginning this by constructing quantum computers today which may open up skew neural functions not previously available, though ultimately it should allow entirely orthogonal universes to interact through intermediates. Developed universes could extend into undeveloped spaces by seeding life through openings, which is what I mean by "computational imperialism". It's kinda like how companies expanding into new countries try to get locals on management, except when you're expanding into a physical domain that's not well-replicated in your current domain, you try to get neural units in that new physical domain.

Taken to an extreme, there's some emergent universe describable as a multiverse of interacting skew ontologies; presuming that the micromers of our world are such skew universes should lead to useful insights, e.g. it immediately explains both locality and causality, as well as suggesting how we might look for violations in them. Just, at this complexity, stuff gets stupidly confusing. I figure we'll have to use computational extensions before being able to practically employ such models.
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Re: Is man made life possible?

Postby Natural ChemE on December 2nd, 2015, 7:04 pm 

Folks,

If anyone's interested in this subject, ConwayLife.com has some really cool stuff. Even the images on their front page are beautiful.

Their site includes:
  • its own Wiki
  • a forum;
  • a cellular automata program called Golly (think Conway's Game of Life, Super-Deluxe version).
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