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Research sheds new light on intelligent life existing across the galaxy

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.
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.
The laws of physics don't change though. Flight requires wings. Walking requires legs. You could go legless but then you have a snake or a slug. Swimming requires fins/wings or some form of jet propulsion. Same with sensors. RF communication would be new.
 

sferrin

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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!).
I'd rather run into those than something like The Thing or the nanobot tech on The Day the Earth Stood Still.
 

Arjen

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If gravity is weak enough, flight can be achieved by a balloon-like organism. If gravity is strong enough, flight is impossible. Ambulation over land - hopping on a strong tail? I am a biologist by training, hopping on a strong tail is just the beginning of the crazy ways animals move over land. Granted, sometimes you have to look at microscopic life forms.
On Earth, legs appear to be the preferred means for locomotion on land. In different environments on other planets, that might not be the case.
 
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Arjen

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There's the rub.
 

Orionblamblam

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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?
There's every reason to assume that octopi are *capable* of evolving human-level intelligence. But human level *technology?* Unlikely... their tentacles are strong enough to hang on to things, but not strong enough to bang rocks together under water to make crude cutting implements. And they are utterly incapable of wielding fire. Cetaceans have the same issues, only more so.

It's entirely that the galaxy is full to overflowing with intelligent species forever confined to their oceans, never to leave, never to know of other worlds. Never, quite possibly, to *suspect* the existence of other worlds. They might well look at their night skies, but without hands and fire they will never build telescopes to examine their universe in depth.

It may well be that humans are the one hope of bringing the intelligent species of the universe together. It's a pity that we seem to be slipping into a new dark age of disparaging "engineering rigor" and destroying all evidence of our history.

 

Orionblamblam

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I'd rather run into those than something like The Thing or the nanobot tech on The Day the Earth Stood Still.
I would be unsurprised if the best description of the true nature of the universe and the intelligences lurking out there came from the mind and pen of H. P. Lovecraft. They are vast, unknowable and utterly indifferent to whatever effect they may have on us as they go about their business.
 

sferrin

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I'd rather run into those than something like The Thing or the nanobot tech on The Day the Earth Stood Still.
I would be unsurprised if the best description of the true nature of the universe and the intelligences lurking out there came from the mind and pen of H. P. Lovecraft. They are vast, unknowable and utterly indifferent to whatever effect they may have on us as they go about their business.
And then there's the whole simulation question. Maybe those types reside at the top.
 

sferrin

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If gravity is weak enough, flight can be achieved by a balloon-like organism. If gravity is strong enough, flight is impossible. Ambulation over land - hopping on a strong tail? I am a biologist by training, hopping on a strong tail is just the beginning of the crazy ways animals move over land. Granted, sometimes you have to look at microscopic life forms.
On Earth, legs appear to be the preferred means for locomotion on land. In different environments on other planets, that might not be the case.
Would a planet with that low of gravity even be able to hang onto an atmosphere? As for hopping on a strong tail there are spring tails, but they don't really "hop". More like "launch". And for more directional control / stability I'd think you'd want more than one "spring" and then you've got kangaroo-like action.
 

Archibald

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I'd rather run into those than something like The Thing or the nanobot tech on The Day the Earth Stood Still.
I would be unsurprised if the best description of the true nature of the universe and the intelligences lurking out there came from the mind and pen of H. P. Lovecraft. They are vast, unknowable and utterly indifferent to whatever effect they may have on us as they go about their business.
Just like John "Doc Manhattan"Osterman.

Sally "Everybody will die"

Doc M. "And the universe won't even notice."
 

Orionblamblam

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Sally "Everybody will die"

Doc M. "And the universe won't even notice."
And as things currently stand, that's certainly true. Even if the sun explodes, it'll be a nothingburger blip. It's up to Man to make something of ourselves on a universal scale, and we certainly can if we try, and if we avoid being stupid. We can remake not just whole planets, but whole solar systems and whole galaxies... and, there is every reason to hope, we could in time figure out how to defeat the death of the universe. Bunnies won't do that. Flowers won't do that. Cows won't do that. Not even jumped-up octopi and dolphins will do that. Magical thinkers and peddlers of superstition and stupidity won't do that. But humans? Damn straight we *can.*
 
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Orionblamblam

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Would a planet with that low of gravity even be able to hang onto an atmosphere?
Yes. A sufficiently low-density planet could be large with a low surface gravity, but due to bulk mass, the escape velocity would still be high. Thus low gravity with a potentially decent atmosphere. There are secondary effects such as a lower magnetic field allowign solar wind to blow away the top of the atmosphere faster, but that's an issue for geological timescales.




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Archibald

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I'm on the optimistic side, too - although you (recently) drastically cut my faith into Orion NPP.
 

Orionblamblam

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I'm on the optimistic side, too - although you (recently) drastically cut my faith into Orion NPP.
Dunno why. Orion is a fantastic way for getting around a solar system. It stinks on ice for interstellar travel, but then Viking longboats are no damn good for getting to the moon. Gotta start somewhere.
 

edwest

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Without an FTL drive and without FTL communications, we can't go from here to there. Star Trek (1968) solved all that. Sub-space communications, but no explanation of how it works. Matter-antimatter engines plus dilithium crystals. Warp one? How fast is that compared to Warp 9? Sulu watches his instruments as the ship slows down to Warp 1 followed by sub-light. Throw in a matter to energy to matter transmitter/transporter. Wow. That fills the bill. Phasers in such a small package.

Meanwhile, a million mile battery from Tesla is about to make electric cars cost-competitive with gasoline and diesel vehicles. And will be used to store wind and solar power to have 20 to 24 hour power from renewables. Definitely 24 hours if done correctly. This technology will reshape the oil industry. But how do these batteries overcome the "energy density" problem of 'regular' batteries that have been around for more than a century? What are the details? I'm sure it's a trade secret, and that's fine. If an FTL drive is built, I'm sure it will be highly classified. Potential enemies have no need to know.
 

The Artist

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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
James White used a four letter classification system for his Sector General stories that in universe was used for placement in bringing patients, staff, and the occasional visitor into Sector Twelve General Hospital - keep in mind that it would not be good to place an oxygen breathing patient in a ward set up for a chlorine breathing species. Earth Humans shared the DBDG classification with about four other species. (In fact, it would be a good bet that most of the non-Human races we've seen in the Star Trek universe would have the DBDG classification.) Where the classification falls in the alphabet does not indicate the level of intelligence. Instead, the entire four letter classification gives a quick picture of atmospheric gas (or liquid) type. body layout, pressure and gravity requirements, and, to a degree, basic nutrient requirements. Here is a link to an overview of the classifications used in the series.


James White gave a lot of thought to how these different species would interact, how they could annoy each other, and he worked out the Educator Tapes - a system that enabled inter-species medicine to advance from crude first-aid to fully invasive surgeries. His system was not perfect, and he used that to his advantage - as an example - one in-joke in the series was the reason that sandwiches were the most popular meals among the senior medical staff who ate in the warm-blooded, oxygen breathers cafeteria at Sector General.

White began the series in the late 1950s and the early stories hold the sensibilities of that time. The characters and the beliefs grew with the series. Anyone interested in what encounters with alien races could be like may find things to think about in White's stories.
 

Justo Miranda

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• Alien life is very possible due to the abundant variety of amino acids found by radio astronomers in interstellar clouds.
• Intelligent alien life is statistically probable (Frank Drake equation)
• Intelligent alien life interested in interstellar travel is less probable. It would have to be an energy rich culture, with the curiosity of a young civilization (In ours, it only lasted 40 years) or with the conquest spirit of some mad individuals. Difficult that all these factors coincide in the same society.
• Chronologically speaking, it is not very probable that two civilizations evolve at the same time and are ready for contact. A few thousand years are not much for a galaxy and a too long period for the UN, NATO or the III Reich.
• From the energy consumption point of view, inter-dimensional travel is much cheaper.

Humanoid form is the result of hazard and millions of random mutations.
The reason why the Hollywood ETs are humanoid is economic…. a guy disguised with a rubber head.
Actors wish to show their faces to increase their popularity and for that reason the aliens in the TV series are almost human.
In real life ET may have any shape except that of a pretty girl.
Gestalt organisms, smart clouds, natural computers integrated by metallic particles in a magnetic field, flying plants, organic film on water, metallic skeleton creatures, giant sponges, planetary wide fungus, energy balls, solar parabolas, insect evolved in low gravity, organisms made of neutron matter, alive comets, wave vortices, thinking glasses and six meters long caterpillars…….of the female sex, of course!:)
 

Justo Miranda

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If gravity is weak enough, flight can be achieved by a balloon-like organism. If gravity is strong enough, flight is impossible. Ambulation over land - hopping on a strong tail? I am a biologist by training, hopping on a strong tail is just the beginning of the crazy ways animals move over land. Granted, sometimes you have to look at microscopic life forms.
On Earth, legs appear to be the preferred means for locomotion on land. In different environments on other planets, that might not be the case.
Medusa
 

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sferrin

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Humanoid form is the result of hazard and millions of random mutations.
"Random" guided by environment. I still maintain the only way you're going to get forms uniquely alien is if you have uniquely alien environments. Having 10% more gravity, 5% less sunshine or 10% more oxygen is not that.
 

Arjen

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You are grossly underestimating the importance of chance in evolution. The human anatomy is riddled with inefficient structures. Ours is not the ideal form for intelligent, tool using life. Just a form that works in the absence of a superior form - which will never be ideal either.
 

sferrin

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You are grossly underestimating the importance of chance in evolution.
On the contrary, I think you grossly overestimate the number of viable platforms physics will allow while minimizing the variety here on Earth.
 

Justo Miranda

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You are grossly underestimating the importance of chance in evolution. The human anatomy is riddled with inefficient structures. Ours is not the ideal form for intelligent, tool using life. Just a form that works in the absence of a superior form - which will never be ideal either.
 

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uk 75

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It is interesting how the "mythology" of extra terrestrial life has replaced the old stories of the supernatural in our fantasy world. Both forms offer an escape from sorting out the myriad problems facing us on the only inhabited planet we have got. Our capacity to destroy the diversity of life around us grows unchecked by the romantic dreams expressed above.
 

Archibald

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Hydro-alcoholic liquid, here we go ! screw that pesky Corona virus. L'acool, ça désinfecte ! Santé !
 

uk 75

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To mangle an old quote from a former Chinese Leader:
Q: "Is there intelligent life on Earth (aka Tosev3)?
A: "Its too early to tell"
 

edwest

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Pessimism will get no one anywhere. It certainly did not sustain the space race. Each human being has the potential to be the best and avoid being the worst.

Regarding the supernatural or the occult, the same books live on in repackaged form and are now called New Age. Mythology has not disappeared. I still drive past stores carrying crystals, for example. I was at an SF Con and saw a box, more like a tray, filled with various crystals. They were being offered because they could supposedly do something for people. I asked one of the women there about how they worked. The reply was that computer chips are made from crystal.

Human greed destroys.
 

zen

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All life on Earth is to our knowledge only found on Earth. Should something happen....then it won't be found anywhere.

So while one can appreciate desire to make this mostly ball of hot rock a more pleasant place to live........such lack of ambition is ultimately a betrayal of the impulse to survive.

Eggs in one basket at which gods throw rocks, fire flamethrowers and occasionally set of nuclear devices nearby is not a situation that permits the survival of those eggs.

Reality is harsh.
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(Section deleted because of the times and 'sensitivity' of characters that may exert influence here)
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Civilisations may exist out there, but if they didn't get off their homeworld, then their survival rate is unlikely to be high.
 

Grey Havoc

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I'd rather run into those than something like The Thing or the nanobot tech on The Day the Earth Stood Still.
I should note that a Flerken would have either of those for a light snack.
 

Orionblamblam

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It is interesting how the "mythology" of extra terrestrial life has replaced the old stories of the supernatural in our fantasy world.
Before WWI:
"I saw weird shit. Clearly it was an angel or a demon."
Between WWI and WWII:
"I saw weird shit. Clearly it was fairies/ascended masters/Lemurians."
After WWII:
"I saw weird shit. Clearly it was aliens."
 

uk 75

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The technology required for interstellar travel would make any aliens seem "godlike". This theme recurs in Star Trek (The Preservers) Stargate (The Ancients), 2001 a Space Odyssey (Monoliths). Arthur C Clarke described vividly in Childhood's End aliens who look like our images of the Devil.
 

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As this is 'The Bar', I think it's only fair that dear old George's opposite number in the UK gets a look in.... ;)

On a more serious note, as has been already mentioned, intelligent life can only flourish if that life evolves to have the ability to use tools. Arguably, that may well rule out aquatic life. IF (and that's a 20 stories high, neon lit 'if' with an express lift to the roof garden at the top of the 'f'....) there is intelligent life out there, they may look similar to us (but with allowances for gravity, light levels etc).
 

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Orionblamblam

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It would be interesting to try to invent a plausible aquatic intelligence that develops meaningful technology. One way in which they at least *could* do so would be to be amphibious, doing all their fire-related work on shore. But the thing is, it's a lot easier for land critters like us to flounder around in the water than it is for water critters to do anything meaningful on land. In the movies you see giants squids and octopi reaching up and grabbing people off boats and crushing buildings and such... but if you watch a real one out of the water, the best they can do is drag themselves along, with almost no ability to reach "up" at all. Fish and dolphins and icthyosaurs and such could flop around on shore, but only with the greatest difficulty. Even those fish with an evolved ability to operate on land, like mudskippers, are hilariously bad at it.

It would be possible for a fully aquatic species to gain some measure of tool-use in the event that their environment permitted it. If they had access to "seaweed" or waterline plants that produced something akin to long, straight, rigid bamboo shoots, then they could tip those with something like shark teeth or, perhaps, sharpened stones if they can bang them together hard enough (has a flint knapper ever tried their skill while submerged?). A smart octopus with a good jabbing spear might be a formidable hunter. It's a simple technology and a long way from a radio telescope... but *perhaps* such a simple beginning could end up in spaceships filled with water, not air.
 
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