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Reply #78: A few thoughts [View All]

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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-28-11 03:15 PM
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78. A few thoughts
In scientific circles there's much less concern now than in the past about the value of fl, the fraction of habitable planets on which life evolves. The molecular building blocks of life -- complex organic hydrocarbons and even amino acids -- are abundant in the universe. They have been discovered in meteorites, comets, and interstellar gas and dust. There are vastly more amounts of amino acids in interstellar space than in the Earth's biosphere. Although hydrocarbons and amino acids are not living organisms, there's little doubt that a lot of prebiotic evolution is going on in the dark galactic clouds between the stars.

Where the biochemistry exists, there is little reason to doubt that life will eventually arise given a suitable environment. And where life begins, it only follows that it will evolve into an intelligent form sooner or later. But the question of whether "they" will be inclined to explore the universe or interact with the other denizens relies on many factors, including:

1) Motive - Just what is to be gained by the discovery of other life forms, specifically intelligent ones? For one, it would answer one of the most important questions possible - are we alone? That in and of itself would be earth shaking in its cultural and religious implications. But the "We" here counts, too. Would there be minimum and maximum degrees of advancement acceptable between civilizations before any sense of shared identity could exist?

2) Ability - It may be too easy to simply suggest that a method for traversing wormholes or other means of interstellar travel will develop. The problem may be much, much more difficult than we can imagine, or it may even be impossible. On the other hand, the rather Anthro concept that aliens will pile into a flying saucer, the Intergalactic Minivan, and travel vast light years simply to study Earth and/or Mankind, strains credulity. And the idea that radio would be used to communicate over the same distances isn't much better - "I Love Lucy" has become so-much indecipherable noise by now, long before any chance of aliens enjoying it. Radio loses energy at a square of the distance rate. But more than that, our own technology seems to be replacing broadcast with fiber at a rapid rate. There may be only a narrow window that any advanced civilizations employ broadcast frequencies before moving on to better technologies.

3) Too different - While our science fiction is often fond of depicting aliens as humanoid, the differences in biology or culture may be so fundamental that for them the very idea of interaction with any outside civilization is unthinkable.

4) Hostile? Probably not - There exists an argument which I can't find right now, but it goes something like this: Any sufficiently advanced civilization would realize upon entering the local galactic neighborhood that their new-found capabilities are statistically at the low end of the technological realm. They would be not just at the extreme disadvantage in any war-like encounter, but more like an ant hill against a Predator drone. It would behoove anyone with such an awareness to tread lightly and extend a welcoming hand (tentacle?) rather than raising phasers-on-stun with each new encounter. What's more, everyone would know that everyone else would recognize the rules. The benefits of cooperation would prove to far outnumber those of battle. And those above a certain point on the curve would have no need for such incivility anyway - they would likely be able to attain anything they needed without effort.
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