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                                               Alien Life

Alien If one accepts the inevitability of life somewhere other than here, what are the odds it will look like us?

Earth's atmosphere has a ratio of oxygen to nitrogen of almost 1 to 4. With a smattering of other gasses. 20% 0 and 78% N. Oxygen allows our hemoglobin to carry off to the cells that which they require to exist. Nitrogen keeps us from getting too much oxygen. Breathing pure 0 will kill.

That is life on the planet Earth.

Our entire physical structure, our very stature is predicated on that ratio and has been for about half a billion years. There have been times that Earth 'rejected' aerobic life, but those were way back when. Pre Cambrian so to speak.

What if that ratio was substantially different?

On this planet, that would result in the need for huge lung capacity. The vascular system would be much reduced. We might even be 'cold blooded'.

The dinosaurs were likely cold blooded and ruled this planet for 100 million years.

If there is 'life' elsewhere, I think it's safe to assume it will NOT look like us.

In fact, life elsewhere WON'T look like us.

                                               Do you agree?


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Interesting point of departure. This has been a subject of intense consideration by both science fiction authors and science fact pundits for several years. Perusing the pages of the pulps, such as Analog, which stll exists, reveals approximately two articles per five years that may fit into this binning.
Most living systems on Tellus are homeostatic. In general, the more developed the system, the more complex the homeostatic architecture. The purpose of this would appear to be consistent with evolutionary precepts, enabling the system to survive more robustly. Such systems however, being complex, are large consumers of energy and thus so far as can be determined, homeostatic systems obey the principle of least action.
It may be that this would provide a framework for the consideration you have advanced. If the environment can be defined adequately, and sufficient resources are applied to its analysis, the shape of life in that environment may be inferrable thereby.

I think the diversity of life on earth is emperical evidence that life elsewhere in the universe would not look like us.


Welcome aboard SCP.

Do you suppose that even a minute difference in atmosphere or chemical composition of the lithosphere would manifest itself in vastly different 'evolutionary' products?

Analog? Heh. I was weaned on that and Amazing Stories.

One story stuck with me.

It was about time traveling hunters. The premise was that a dinosaur's impending death could be 'seen' from the future and hunters would pay to dispatch that creature just prior to its certain natural death.

There was 'boardwalk' on which the hunters were required to stay. No other creature or organism was to be interfered with lest that might manifest itself in the entire evolution of all the species.

Naturally, some bozo tripped and stepped on a butterfly.

When he and his hunting party returned to the present, the Nazis had won the war and ruled the Earth.

OF COURSE alien life will look like us, at least basically--bipedal, a head with eyes, ears, nose, and mouth in the same positions, two arms with hands on the ends, etc.

How do I know? I've watched Star Trek for years. That settles it.


Actually, I think that the imagined diversity of life forms exhibited in our SciFi has woefully unprepared us for what alien life actually will be like--so radically, completely, altogether different that, in its primitive forms, we might not initially even recognize it as life at all.

And the more highly-developed, sentient life forms will probably be shockingly, preternaturally bizarre from our perspective. Indeed, this fact may be one of the primary difficulties we'll have in attempting to communicate with them--our entire concept of "communication" may be alien to them, and vice versa.

For example, we primarily use patterns of longitudinal oscillations in air pressure for communication, and we have organs specifically adapted to produce and detect those patterns (i.e. we speak and hear sound). There's no reason at all to assume that alien life forms use sound to communicate.

What they do use is one of the great mysteries yet to be discovered.

Remember Michael Valentine? Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land"? His alter-parents on Mars communicated through the Old Ones who communicated through thought. Their language was a mix of gutteral sounds. But the 'communication' from the Old Ones, albeit through thought, was so profoundly intellectual that one did not have to be schooled. They passed through phases to full understanding.

Is that like mental ventriloquism only with intellection of knowledge? Sure would save money on public schools. It would also put the lie to language shaping a man's basic ideas. But.... all words were metaphors before they became part of the, communicating through thought - then did they communicate through metaphor before they got the thought? They'd have to... otherwise, words have no meaning, and without meaning, your thoughts are nothing.

You've burned out the retina of my mind's imagination.

What are you getting at here? IF God made us in his image, is there reason to think he'd make other sentient beings in another image? How many images does God have?

You have gone to very good place Phoenix.

The concept of evolution assumes that any adaptation will either benefit the species or die.

Intelligence is such a thing.

It seems to me that intelligence has found a foothold in our genes. It may be too early to tell.

But if it has, then the obvious evolution of intelligence will be the genetic transmission of it.

So your concept may not be far off.

I can visualize a species (humans) that is able to pass intelligence on to our offspring WITHOUT what we consider education.

Time will tell.

Yeah. So, for the reason we will never be left as eggs to hatch and find our way with intellects intact is that we will require the nurturing to install our emotional quotients.

Hmmmm... that sure makes one ponder the inevitable - that poorer and less intelligent human units are those who are having the most offspring.

But.....we're wandering down an earthian path here........ I'll stop... :)

Are you sure we have been here for half a billion years?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Life has been here that long.

Not 'us'.

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