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Research sheds new light on intelligent life existing across the galaxy

Flyaway

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There could be more than 30 other advanced civilisations in the galaxy. The problem for detection is the distances between them

 

edwest

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"By searching for extraterrestrial intelligent life—even if we find nothing—we are discovering our own future and fate." Highly doubtful.

Vast distances which require FTL drives and FTL communications. The galactic ocean can only be crossed by those who have made both things.
 
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Archibald

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Yup - saw that yesterday, and it blew my mind. Although I'm not a die hard fan of CETI nor of some of the parameters in the study.
I understand the will to communicate with advanced civilizations, but I would be more than happy with microbian life or unintelligent species - basically, planets packed with animals and trees.

With the sheer numbers of exoplanets everywhere, I think that whinning about CETI and lack of intelligent species is misplaced.
 

Tony Williams

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An interesting book on this subject was published over a decade ago: Where is Everybody? Fifty solutions to the Fermi Paradox, by Stephen Webb.

I reviewed this on my SFF blog, and came to some rather different conclusions: http://quarryhs.co.uk/Fermi.htm

An extract from my conclusion:

My vision is this: imagine if a camera could have been sited over our galaxy, filming continuously for the last few billion years, and recording each ETC (extra-terrestrial civilisation) as a bright flash. Then replay the film in quick time. I think we would see a huge number of ETCs sparkling all over the galaxy, from two billion years ago to the present. But slow the film down, and we may see only one flash at a time, with long pauses between them. Occasionally we might see two or more flashes occurring simultaneously, but on average they would be so far apart that communication between them would be highly improbable.
 

edwest

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Another way to look at the question is this. Suppose beings very similar to us were looking just as we are looking now but they are hundreds of light years away. Perhaps by the time FTL travel and communications becomes possible for them, they may have been here and gone. Other, "better" planets became the focus as they went down their list. This would be the case for us as progress is made. Why bother terraforming anything as new planets are settled that have all the requirements?
 

Rhinocrates

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An interesting book on this subject was published over a decade ago: Where is Everybody? Fifty solutions to the Fermi Paradox, by Stephen Webb.

I reviewed this on my SFF blog, and came to some rather different conclusions: http://quarryhs.co.uk/Fermi.htm
A problem I had with Webb's argument was that he examined each proposed solution in isolation and required each to be 100% effective or he considered it to be wrong. Many are not exclusive and cumulatively, several incompletely effective solutions could suffice. He then finished by using a cumulative calculation - the Drake equation with the serial number filed off - to "prove" that ETI was nonexistent. A bit of a logical blind spot on his part.
 
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Rhinocrates

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Maybe we shouldn't be looking for technosignatures after all, or not those that we'd currently recognise.


Link to preprint here:

https://arxiv.org/pdf/2005.13221.pdf

Precis: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature."
 

Foo Fighter

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Just what would be classified as intelligent life is an interesting topic of its own, compared with our political leaders or what?

There are a lot of people who decry aliens depicted as 'similar' to human and state categoricall that no alien life form will look anything like us, why? Taking a development cycle to require certain things like the ability to use tools etc, why should none of the life forms look similar? We have several species on this planet that have a passing resemblance.
 

Arjen

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An octopus is fairly intelligent, based on the same biochemistry as humans yet looks nothing like us. Throw in a different world with radically different environment - you might get anything from micro to macro, we might not even be able to recognise it as life at first glance. Even if we stumble upon bipedal lifeforms, they might be dumb as a rock, with intelligent worms as the dominant life form.
 

Foo Fighter

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An octopus is fairly intelligent, based on the same biochemistry as humans yet looks nothing like us. Throw in a different world with radically different environment - you might get anything from micro to macro, we might not even be able to recognise it as life at first glance. Even if we stumble upon bipedal lifeforms, they might be dumb as a rock, with intelligent worms as the dominant life form.
Why would the environment have to be radically different? We have a development line through other primate types so there are different life forms here that have similarities. It strikes me as lazy thinking that suggests we will have no commonality with inteligent life on other planets.
 
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Arjen

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What makes you think intelligent life can only develop on an Earth-like planet? Even if you accept that premise, if you were to restart evolution on Earth, it is extremely unlikely Homo sapiens or something similar will evolve again. Read Stephen Jay Gould's book on the extinct life forms found in the Burgess Shale, the evolution of life on Earth could have followed lots of other courses, all of them radically different.

Nothing lazy about that.
 

Justo Miranda

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If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
What makes you think intelligent life can only develop on an Earth-like planet? Even if you accept that premise, if you were to restart evolution on Earth, it is extremely unlikely Homo sapiens or something similar will evolve again. Read Stephen Jay Gould's book on the extinct life forms found in the Burgess Shale, the evolution of life on Earth could have followed lots of other courses, all of them radically different.

Nothing lazy about that.
 

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Justo Miranda

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What makes you think intelligent life can only develop on an Earth-like planet? Even if you accept that premise, if you were to restart evolution on Earth, it is extremely unlikely Homo sapiens or something similar will evolve again. Read Stephen Jay Gould's book on the extinct life forms found in the Burgess Shale, the evolution of life on Earth could have followed lots of other courses, all of them radically different.

Nothing lazy about that.
A superior ET technology does not imply a superior intelligence:)
 

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Foo Fighter

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What makes you think intelligent life can only develop on an Earth-like planet? Even if you accept that premise, if you were to restart evolution on Earth, it is extremely unlikely Homo sapiens or something similar will evolve again. Read Stephen Jay Gould's book on the extinct life forms found in the Burgess Shale, the evolution of life on Earth could have followed lots of other courses, all of them radically different.

Nothing lazy about that.
Where did I say inteligent life could only exist on an earth like planet. Lots of room for variation but, no proof that any planet with inteligent life will be completely different either. Lazy thinking because only one form is considered valid, that all planets with intelligent life will be completely dissimilar.
 

sferrin

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What makes you think intelligent life can only develop on an Earth-like planet? Even if you accept that premise, if you were to restart evolution on Earth, it is extremely unlikely Homo sapiens or something similar will evolve again. Read Stephen Jay Gould's book on the extinct life forms found in the Burgess Shale, the evolution of life on Earth could have followed lots of other courses, all of them radically different.

Nothing lazy about that.
On the other hand: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_examples_of_convergent_evolution
 

Arjen

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In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely that intelligent life evolving on different worlds will be anatomically similar. Hereditary mechanisms on Earth all rely on RNA/DNA. What will alien hereditary mechanisms rely on? What will the underlying biochemistry look like? What will different gravity, irradiation, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure do to developing ecosystems? How will those ecosystems shape and be shaped by their constituting life forms? It's difficult enough for biologists on Earth to fully grasp life as it has evolved. I think it is the height of hubris to assume that if life evolves on other worlds, and if it produces intelligent life at all, will produce it in a shape similar to ours.
 
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sferrin

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What will different gravity, irradiation, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure do to developing ecosystems? How will those ecosystems shape and be shaped by its constituting life forms?
There are only so many ways of locomotion. To think an entirely new unique set would be reinvented every time life popped up on a planet is silly.
 

Arjen

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Modes of locomotion depend on the environment. Different environment, different modes.
The geometry of locomotion may be similar, an alien anatomy that achieves the geometry may still be very different from what we know on Earth. Insects to birds. Ways to swim? Countless.
 

Archibald

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Seems there is a lot of confusion between life and sentient life.
The universe could be teeming with life, except that life might be very much like Earth animals. Lions, monkeys, dolphins, skids... whatever. They can't communicate at interstellar scales, for sure. Still their planet would be worth exploring.

I never was truly convinced by CETI / SETI whatever. If there are 400 billion stars in the Mily way of which 50% have planets with life, then that's 200 billion inhabited planets to explore. Even if none of these lifeforms can CETI (that is, communicating / sentient life) that's still worth the exploration...

In the grand schemes of "is there life outside Earth ?" to me it would already awesome to

a) find extremophiles / bugs / viruses somewhere (inside or outside the solar system) - even if bugs are boring, at least they are extremely resilient to the harshness of space.

b) find exoplanets teeming with lifeforms even animals or plants we can't communicate with

Obviously c) - SETI / CETI succeeding - would be awesome, but to me it is just icing on the cake.

Incidentally, even if we found a civilization just as our level or tech, we might be unable to understand their language. If they are far more advanced than us, we are toast (hint, 2001, hint, Denis Villeneuve 2016 movie - Arrival )

........

As for the damn Fermi paradox... give me a break.

What is the "Fermi paradox" answer to "dolphins are intelligent species, but not to the point of interstellar communication ?"
I mean, there might 1 billion exoplanets out there, with oceans packed full with dolphins, and yet not a single one would be able to CETI. And still, they would prove Fermi wrong, since, well, they are out there, so we are not alone.
 
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Justo Miranda

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In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely that intelligent life evolving on different worlds will be anatomically similar. Hereditary mechanisms on Earth all rely on RNA/DNA. What will alien hereditary mechanisms rely on? What will the underlying biochemistry look like? What will different gravity, irradiation, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure do to developing ecosystems? How will those ecosystems shape and be shaped by its constituting life forms? It's difficult enough for biologists on Earth to fully grasp life as it has evolved. I think it is the height of hubris to assume that if life evolves on other worlds, and if it produces intelligent life at all, will produce it in a shape similar to ours.
Good sample here
 

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Justo Miranda

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Seems there is a lot of confusion between life and sentient life.
The universe could be teeming with life, except that life might be very much like Earth animals. Lions, monkeys, dolphins, skids... whatever. They can't communicate at interstellar scales, for sure. Still their planet would be worth exploring.

I never was truly convinced by CETI / SETI whatever. If there are 400 billion stars in the Mily way of which 50% have planets with life, then that's 200 billion inhabited planets to explore. Even if none of these lifeforms can CETI (that is, communicating / sentient life) that's still worth the exploration...

In the grand schemes of "is there life outside Earth ?" to me it would already awesome to

a) find extremophiles / bugs / viruses somewhere (inside or outside the solar system) - even if bugs are boring, at least they are extremely resilient to the harshness of space.

b) find exoplanets teeming with lifeforms even animals or plants we can't communicate with

Obviously c) - SETI / CETI succeeding - would be awesome, but to me it is just icing on the cake.

Incidentally, even if we found a civilization just as our level or tech, we might be unable to understand their language. If they are far more advanced than us, we are toast (hint, 2001, hint, Denis Villeneuve 2016 movie - Arrival )

........

As for the damn Fermi paradox... give me a break.

What is the "Fermi paradox" answer to "dolphins are intelligent species, but not to the point of interstellar communication ?"
I mean, there might 1 billion exoplanets out there, with oceans packed full with dolphins, and yet not a single one would be able to CETI. And still, they would prove Fermi wrong, since, well, they are out there, so we are not alone.
Good sample here
 

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Justo Miranda

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What will different gravity, irradiation, atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure do to developing ecosystems? How will those ecosystems shape and be shaped by its constituting life forms?
There are only so many ways of locomotion. To think an entirely new unique set would be reinvented every time life popped up on a planet is silly.
Good samples here
 

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Justo Miranda

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An octopus is fairly intelligent, based on the same biochemistry as humans yet looks nothing like us. Throw in a different world with radically different environment - you might get anything from micro to macro, we might not even be able to recognise it as life at first glance. Even if we stumble upon bipedal lifeforms, they might be dumb as a rock, with intelligent worms as the dominant life form.
 

Archibald

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Dear Justo Miranda:

Do you have an entire library of E.T books ? o_O
 

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@Archibald : please understand that man evolution cap in effect any other earth species ability to reach the threshold level of intelligence to communicate with other "stars".

Take man out of the loop and add a billion of year of evolution and, reasonably it is acceptable to think there might be a very different order of life on earth.

In retrospect and the corollary, it would put an immense burden on our shoulders (something I strongly believe)...
;)
 
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sferrin

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Modes of locomotion depend on the environment. Different environment, different modes.
The geometry of locomotion may be similar, an alien anatomy that achieves the geometry may still be very different from what we know on Earth. Insects to birds. Ways to swim? Countless.
Yep, and there are countless ways of doing those things on Earth as well. They may have different chemistries but almost any alien that can get around is going to have similar analogs on Earth.
 

sferrin

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Take man out of the loop and add a billion of year of evolution and, reasonably it is acceptable to think there might be a very different order of life on earth.
I doubt that it would be unrecognizable. Sharks, insects, and cephalopods have been around for hundreds of millions of years and are largely unchanged. Sure, different species have come and gone but the general body plan is the same. Maybe cetaceans come to land (again) and this time produce a bipedal species but it won't have four arms and two legs. It won't have compound eyes or communicate via RF with antenna. Now THAT could be something we've never seen before. An alien species that communicates via RF naturally.
 

uk 75

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Interesting though sea lifeforms are for intelligence, being able to make and develop tools is essentially an arms and hands activity. or?
 

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I doubt that it would be unrecognizable. Sharks, insects, and cephalopods have been around for hundreds of millions of years and are largely unchanged. Sure, different species have come and gone but the general body plan is the same. Maybe cetaceans come to land (again) and this time produce a bipedal species but it won't have four arms and two legs. It won't have compound eyes or communicate via RF with antenna. Now THAT could be something we've never seen before. An alien species that communicates via RF naturally.
It's the corollary that bear some importance here...

[Way] More lightly, I otherwise like the RF antenna concept. Might bring a whole lot of plusses with... Uh, celibat and social distancing.
 

Justo Miranda

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Protocadherins




Protocadherins
(Pcdhs) are the largest mammalian subgroup of the cadherin superfamily of homophilic cell-adhesion proteins.[1] They were discovered by Shintaro Suzuki's group, when they used PCR to find new members of the cadherin family. The PCR fragments that corresponded to Protocadherins were found in vertebrate and invertebrate species.[2] This prevalence in a wide range of species suggested that the fragments were part of an ancient cadherin and were thus termed "Protocadherins" as the "first cadherins". Of the approximately 70 Pcdh genes identified in mammalian genomes, over 50 are located in tightly linked gene clusters on the same chromosome.[3] Until recently, it was assumed that this kind of organization can only be found in vertebrates,[3] but Octopus bimaculoides has 168 genes of which nearly three-quarters are found in tandem clusters with the two largest clusters compromising 31 and 17 genes, respectively.[4]
 

Grey Havoc

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With the way humanity's luck is running at the moment, we'll probably run into something like the Kzin or the Kilrathi. Or stumble across something like the Jardinian Fire Cat, or God help us, the Flerken.


We can probably safely assume that there is some feline species out there ready to terrorise us (at best!).
 

Arjen

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Modes of locomotion depend on the environment. Different environment, different modes.
The geometry of locomotion may be similar, an alien anatomy that achieves the geometry may still be very different from what we know on Earth. Insects to birds. Ways to swim? Countless.
Yep, and there are countless ways of doing those things on Earth as well. They may have different chemistries but almost any alien that can get around is going to have similar analogs on Earth.
If you start with a fundamentally different environment from Earth (temperature, gravity, irradiation, atmospheric pressure, atmospheric composition, length of year, length of day, seasons, tides, solid phase matter, liquid phase matter, weather) any likelihood of analogous lifeforms appearing decreases with increasing differences with Earth datum.
 
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