Are there any intrinsic limits or tendencies for life of any kind?
Life lives. Tautology or simple definition?
To qualify as `living' an entity must be able to use energy in some way, let's say by metabolism, and also be able, theoretically, to perpetuate that ability. The whole process is called `life' and includes reproduction - that is, the `copying' of both form and ability into the future.
Earth's living entities are carbon based - made of star-matter - and use star radiation or more star materials;  that is they photo-synthesize surrounding chemicals using sunlight, or they consume other carbon based entities, or both.
(Although a small minority, under ground or water, base their metabolism solely on chemicals in their surroundings and the use - or creation - of heat-gradients. Those chemicals are always atomic structures heaver than helium and thus were also made inside stars.)
Those are the life-forms we are aware of.
Speculation on other possibilities below.
How does carbon-based life develop? Is there an inevitable `success route' for life to take in order to survive and complexify to intelligence?
And for `intelligence' to survive and complexify - to wisdom perhaps?
If there are short-term and long-term `success' routes, that would obviously result in the survival and complexification of choosers of `long-term' routes.
Can we find, by analysis of `tactics' and / or `strategies', a way of consistently differentiating short-term from long-term success routes?
Maybe. Let's try `big dinners' as opposed to low-level `subsistence' for a contrast of feeding tactics, and for choices of strategy we'll have `specializing' and its opposite - `non-specializing' = `adaptability'.
To be able to have big dinners (quickly), it's necessary to be a top predator of some kind. Will that be a short or long route?
Tyrannosuaruses and their ilk lasted hundreds of millions of years - but they are now extinct. Catastrophes are presumed to have killed off top dinosaur predators by intermittent destruction of most vegetation, starving any surviving members of their largely herbivorous prey.
Whereas `subsistence' was the route of small omnivores and insectivores, which survived to reach their later mammalian forms.
Mind you, the selachians (sharks and rays) were very big 110 and very ancient and some smaller versions of them are still around.
That's probably because the seas protected them - a) by shielding some of them from gross physical effects of comet strikes and subsequent fire, flood, volcanics, `nuclear winters' etc; and b) by receiving corpses from the land in tidal waves and run-offs and thus acting as a larder for quite a period.
But we can see that, while their early choice of the tactic of `big dinners' was immediately successful, their `specialization' strategy has forever prevented complexification to intelligence. The selachians have hardly changed despite aeons of continual evolution.
This means that the sea - their protection - is also their prison, until seas run dry. 111
Many descendants of early mammals then radiated out into predator niches, specializing in their turn. This has been their undoing.
Huge dire-wolves and various lions and saber-toothed tigers abounded in North America only twenty thousand years ago - now all are gone, except for a few `cat and dog' descendants (like pumas and wolves).
It's pretty clear that a more recent calamity, accompanied or followed by climate shock, killed off their large herbivore prey by starvation, after the impact / fire / flood / volcanics. 112
So the evidence in animals seems to say that `big dinners' and specialization are only short-term success routes, while subsistence and adaptability have longer-term value.
And latest research indicates that Neanderthals opted for `big dinners' also - here's extracts from the published paper (two sites).
"This would have been a fragile system," the authors write. "In flush times, Neandertals would have lived high on the hog (or the red deer), but they may have lacked the kind of diversified resource base and labor network ... needed to buffer them from major population losses in lean times."
"The meat of large animals yields a rich payoff, but even the best hunters have unlucky days. The modern humans of the Upper Paleolithic, with their division of labor and diversified food sources, would have been better able to secure a continuous food supply. Nor were they putting their reproductive core - women and children - at great risk."
Can we see those `rules' applying within the short period of known human history? Even though that's also acting within a species?
It looks like it - despite the heavy camouflage of human social mythology (hero worship and wishful thinking), and the self-justifying propaganda produced by `historians' of ancient rulers.
In human terms big dinners and specialization means only one thing - Empires. The rulers are always conspicuous consumers - and their speciality is conquering, ruling and taxing other people.
On analysis we see that such rulers, for the sake of short-term wealth and power, have definitely chosen to give up `subsistence' and `adaptability'.
How do we know? If the regal myths and `histories' were even half-way truthful we would find unbroken family lines of rulers from earliest times to the present day. We don't.
Again, on analysis it seems that wealth and power diminish a lineage's abilities so much that later descendants become incompetent (and un-marriageable) well within a hundred generations. 113
In actuality no family is known to have ruled (i.e. kept power and wealth) for even twenty or thirty generations. There is more than sufficient evidence of this from the days of ancient Egypt onwards to the present - despite most rulers' claims, often made on taking power, that they are supposedly descended from legendary leaders, heroes or gods.
Do we see any identifiable `royal lineages' - of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks or Romans, or even later - around today? No.
Despite heavily sponsored historians' 114 claims that their Emperors had `divine rights', those Emperors' lines are gone, it is the descendants of their slaves who have survived.
And one apparent exception actually proves the rule: many of the followers and descendants of Genghis Khan have representatives amongst us now.
Reason? For the most part they refused to give up their culture of hardy nomadic subsistence, as many Mongolians (and others) are still refusing to do today.
That's against the wishes of various `governments' who would rather have those people made captive (and docile) by the forced accumulation of worthless possessions, and the `specializing' or domestication which follows.
In Mongolia and China, Africa 115 Europe 115a and elsewhere - we can see the greedy and manipulative tactics of `rulers'.
`Governments' around the world cruelly and murderously oppress migrating or nomadic peoples (mostly seeking to enslave them by `nationality' and `employment' laws 116) precisely because nomadic peoples embody those survival attributes of subsistence and adaptability - which governments (rulers) instinctively hate and fear.
The reality is, those nomadic peoples - who invariably impose a lighter footprint on nature - are probably humanity's best hope for survival, especially after catastrophe of almost any kind.
Non-organic Life? Can we envisage life-forms which are not based on carbon? Or on atomic matter of any kind?
Yes. In theory all that is needed for `life' is the presence of an energy gradient. In our case it is the difference between high-energy sunlight arriving on - and low-energy infra-red thermal leakage departing from - Earth's surface that feeds all plant life and therefore all animal life. So life like us, carbon-based, should be expected to develop around stars, probably mostly on planets 117 - although that's not a certain-sure requirement.
Is there any other form of energy that is more widely available than `sunlight'? Yes indeed. The universe is full of `Quantum Energy' (UEF) - vastly stronger than sunlight and distributed more or less equally everywhere. Ah, but if it's exactly `equally distributed' there won't be differences in energy levels that life can use.
Right. We can therefore expect that any life feeding off `Quantum Energy' will be most happy near large dense masses, which absorb a certain percentage of the otherwise ubiquitous energy. Prime candidates would be neutron stars, galactic centers and suchlike.
Such a `resident' of a neutron star (or of a galaxy-core) might see the surrounding sky as `hot' in energy while the `ground' would appear much cooler. That's a usable gradient.
And there's a more interesting possibility. No matter what ideas we have about the `beginning' of the Universe (if any) or of the `rate-of-expansion' of the Universe (if any), it is apparent that at a time (and `place') things were different than now generally found. However, science doesn't know for sure if there's an `expansion rate' or not, mainly because they're still confused about the real meaning of `redshifts',118 so we're not at all sure whether that time distance was fifteen billion years, or a thousand billion years, or even an `eternity'. 119
At that time it could have been possible for life to begin as any of the initial primitive vibrations in Quantum Energy itself. 1110 After all, a vibration in an energy field provides both gradient and a base pattern for possible life.
That leads to a rather scarey realization: there's a possibility that forms of life, and therefore maybe of intelligence have already existed and evolved for many billions of years, perhaps thousands of billions - which would seem pretty much like `eternity' to us.