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Author Topic: Aliens  (Read 7956 times)

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SomewhatDamaged

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2009, 12:40:10 PM »

http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?Tutu-wearing_alien_spotted_in_Winchester&in_article_id=747688&in_page_id=2

this made me chuckle.... is he not aware of the local art college?

Btw I can be seen wandering around london in 18th century clothes.....does this make me a ghost?

It would explain why I saw Yvette Fielding on The Hornsey Road the other day.
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J_Beck

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2009, 08:58:26 AM »

Where are the HR Giger images?
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McMullet

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2009, 03:35:50 PM »

I believe! In the Drake Equation.

Given the speed with which life appears to have... appeared on Earth, the evidence suggests that "life" is capable of popping up pretty easily under the right circumstances. One sample is not great, but it's all we have so far until we find conclusive proof on Mars, Europa, etc..

There are plenty of planets out there. No reason to suppose some of them aren't habitable.

Given how long it took for multicellular life to evolve here, let alone "intelligent" life, that doesn't seem to be so easy. The amount of time and space needed to produce a life form that produces technology that evolves faster than it does seems to be pretty big, so planets would seem to have to be stable and habitable for a long time to produce intelligent life. As for the problem of interstellar travel, who knows. We could theoretically do it now if we dedicated all our efforts. Presumably, if the human race survives its current travails to colonise other bodies in our solar system in case the Earth becomes uninhabitable, we could do the same thing should our solar system suffer a similar fate.

Obviously, if we do invent some sort of easy way to travel between stars, the first thing we'll need to do is abduct alien redneck farmers and give them anal probes.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2009, 03:54:15 AM »

i think it almost inevitable that a fairly large number of planets are inhabited by intelligent life......
even if only one percent of stars in the habitable zone of the milky way galaxy alone, had habitable planets, and one percent of those planets had life, and one percent of those had evolved intelligent life to at least our level of developement, then you could assume that there are several billion inhabited planets in our galaxy..... and hundreds of billions throughout the universe.....one wonders why it is so quiet....perhaps we are deliberately being snubbed.....

here is a scientific article with a less conservative estimate....
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090219-explanets-life.html
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McMullet

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2009, 12:03:05 PM »

I think "inevitable" is a strong word. I would say it is likely that a large number of planets have life of some sort, but to expect many, or indeed any, of them to have intelligent life is more of a stretch.

There's a rough guess at how long life has existed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_history_of_life

Assuming we're going with Darwin & Dawkins on the origins of life, the Earth had barely cooled from the impact of whatever formed the moon when life popped up from nowhere and started doing it's thing. Forming mats of ooze. Fun times. Half a billion years later they started photosynthesising. It took another billion or so for the cells to figure out how to stick together and help each other out, which is fairly a prerequisite for intelligence. So that's 1500000000 years, during which conditions need to be fairly stable, before there's even the possibility of intelligence. A supernova in the neighbourhood, changes in solar activity, asteroid impact, global warming, all of these could wipe everything out before it starts. And then it took another billion years before there was anything approaching an animal.

Complex life has been nearly wiped out by short-term problems several times. The fact that that's "nearly" and not "completely" is why we're still here. We were lucky. Equally, the fact that a long-term issue hasn't rendered the Earth uninhabitable is pretty fortunate.

I think the 1% figure for the life:intelligence ratio is unjustified and probably too high.

The chances of a planet being habitable may be high, the chances of life then occurring are probably high, but the chances of that habitability being maintained for long enough are probably not so high. Equally, intelligence obviously doesn't happen very often - the potential has been there for a while. Either it takes this long to arise or it's just a very unlikely trait to occur (the latter seems reasonable, as lugging a huge brain around is not much use in most circumstances).

I would expect life to be common, complex life to be less common, intelligence to be very very rare indeed. As for the technology to visit or contact us - we don't even know if that is possible.

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Morpheus Laughing

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2009, 12:41:20 PM »

I wonder if there would be tougher and more resilient life if planetary conditions remained consistently harsh. The resilience of some simple life forms found on earth shows us that it is possible. Considering the cost/benefit aspect commonly used to describe the constraints on adaptations, I see no reason why an all round “over-arming” (from the perspective of our milder earth conditions) would not occur. 

Perhaps you would get a lot of life of a type like sponges, which can be shredded to bits and reassemble. Maybe intelligence would stick to the soup because the arms races might never make it to land. Life might evolve to become dormant to survive hash conditions. It’s quite an interesting thought. I wonder what people have speculated about this.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2009, 03:08:29 AM »

exobiology has become a very important and respected branch of science in recent years...
on the subject of intelligent life on this planet..... at the current moment in time there are at least 5 seperate species that could be considered truly intelligent.....of which only one has developed technology beyond crafting twigs....surpisingly at least one of those is a direct ancestor of the dinosaurs (crows)

as an aside this is a list of exoplanets (planets that orbit other suns) we have only been able to find them very recently, and as technology advances we will be able to find more and more.....
http://www.planetarybiology.com/exoexplorer_planets/
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McMullet

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2009, 11:33:25 AM »

I suppose it is very important to define "intelligence". Simply being clever even using tools is of little relevance when it comes to interstellar communications; it is the fact that we are dependent on technology and acquired knowledge that drives us to produce the sort of technology that could (perhaps...) be used for such things.

Dolphins, chimps, crows - they're intelligent but their existence is defined by physical characteristics that allow them to survive directly (e.g., a dolphin's intelligence allows it to make better use of its aquatic agility and echolocation, a woodpecker can catch more food using tools but is capable of surviving without using tools). A technological species such as humans is not only an intelligent tool-user but is dependent on tools - we can't survive without them. Our defining physical characteristics are our capacity to communicate (vocal chords/brain) and make stuff (hands/eyes/brain).

We know that Chimps are pretty close to becoming like us, because we're so closely related. On the other hand, I see no way Dolphins could evolve to become technologically adept, as they have no ability to manipulate objects. Changing a flipper to a hand would make it a worse flipper, and so a disadvantageous change; whereas, our hands were formed for climbing trees and it happens that changing a foot into a tree-climbing appendage also makes a good manufacturing appendage.

For all we know, there may have been many species in the past whose intelligence exceed a dolphin's, but none of them have left any evidence that they made real technology.

It does seem that we could communicate with such a species on another planet (as we can communicate with dolphins, dogs, parrots, apes...) but we'd have to go there to do so.

I would say my criterion for "intelligence" in this context is the need for a species to be more reliant on technology than natural characteristics for survival.

I wonder if there would be tougher and more resilient life if planetary conditions remained consistently harsh. The resilience of some simple life forms found on earth shows us that it is possible. Considering the cost/benefit aspect commonly used to describe the constraints on adaptations, I see no reason why an all round “over-arming” (from the perspective of our milder earth conditions) would not occur. 

Perhaps you would get a lot of life of a type like sponges, which can be shredded to bits and reassemble. Maybe intelligence would stick to the soup because the arms races might never make it to land. Life might evolve to become dormant to survive hash conditions. It’s quite an interesting thought. I wonder what people have speculated about this.


"Harshness" is perhaps the wrong term; these so-called "extremophiles" are naturally adapted to their chosen environments. Living in acidic water at 95 Celsius may seem harsh to you or I, but if you put such a life form in a comfy chair in a nice dry room at 20 degrees it would not be very happy.

We're most comfortable under the conditions we live because we're adapted to them. There's no knowing what conditions alien organisms might find equally comfortable, but if they live in liquid methane at -50 under constant X ray bombardment they'd probably not be very happy here.

What I always wondered is why Cephalopods never became technologically adept, since they're pretty clever and tentacles seem to be pretty dexterous...
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Morpheus Laughing

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2009, 01:23:06 PM »

I suppose it is very important to define "intelligence". Simply being clever even using tools is of little relevance when it comes to interstellar communications; it is the fact that we are dependent on technology and acquired knowledge that drives us to produce the sort of technology that could (perhaps...) be used for such things.

Intelligence is example of a relative concept. It always has to be placed in context. It’s ok to say a species is intelligent providing you provide some criteria to match it to and remain in context. It needn’t be a human criteria. We might not count as “intelligent” on a higher standard from elsewhere etc. But yes, in a sense relevent to what most people would consider intelligent, you would require something of human or above human intelligence.
I wonder if there would be tougher and more resilient life if planetary conditions remained consistently harsh. The resilience of some simple life forms found on earth shows us that it is possible. Considering the cost/benefit aspect commonly used to describe the constraints on adaptations, I see no reason why an all round “over-arming” (from the perspective of our milder earth conditions) would not occur. 

Perhaps you would get a lot of life of a type like sponges, which can be shredded to bits and reassemble. Maybe intelligence would stick to the soup because the arms races might never make it to land. Life might evolve to become dormant to survive hash conditions. It’s quite an interesting thought. I wonder what people have speculated about this.


"Harshness" is perhaps the wrong term; these so-called "extremophiles" are naturally adapted to their chosen environments. Living in acidic water at 95 Celsius may seem harsh to you or I, but if you put such a life form in a comfy chair in a nice dry room at 20 degrees it would not be very happy.

We're most comfortable under the conditions we live because we're adapted to them. There's no knowing what conditions alien organisms might find equally comfortable, but if they live in liquid methane at -50 under constant X ray bombardment they'd probably not be very happy here.

What I always wondered is why Cephalopods never became technologically adept, since they're pretty clever and tentacles seem to be pretty dexterous...

Harshness is the wrong word, true enough, but sometimes I have a tendency to rabble on to cover my back. I mentioned “over-arming"….. Under conditions we find preferable, certain adaptations would superficially look like overkill even though the adaptations performed only just above sufficiently wherever they emerged. Maybe my post failed to demonstrate my understanding.

There will be conditions where happiness (due to lack of self awareness) is unlikely to emerge.  ;D

I can immediately guess at a couple of obvious reasons. Insufficient arms races ( or tentacle races) which is essentially a lack of environmental pressures. And not having the “right” mutations.

I think it’s possible to make a case that animals other than humans are less information motivated; which is to say that the get the information they need but they are not creating many further queries that need answering. Humans on the other hand have solved one problem but have become capable of asking more questions than there are answers. A couple of months ago I read some research that has demonstrated our innate need to acquire information. If an organism has only basic needs and is content once those needs are fulfilled, there is insufficient motivation to do much else. In some respects, human super-curiosity is a bit of a fluke, but not necessarily a fluke that would be impossible elsewhere.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2009, 03:00:46 AM »

quite simply... the reason why squid or octopi have not become a tool using mechanistic civilisation is simply that they live in a very stable environment, the only reason we developed the way we did is that we were physically ill equipped to deal with swift environmental changes so we relied on our communication and puzzle solving skills instead.....
I agree that what we must qualify as intelligent life in the universe, must actually be communicative intelligent life...or life sufficiently like us to make interaction meaningful....effectively we are limited to looking for startrek species.....
the Drake Equation is designed for estimating the number of communicative intelligent species in the universe....it has one major flaw.... almost all of its variables are wild guesses at best so the actual answer is somewhat meaningless


http://www.activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/SETI/drake_equation.html
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McMullet

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2009, 10:41:41 AM »

Aye, the definition of intelligence is not meant to be absolute, but just a functional thing for use when looking for aliens - bottom line is, without technology intelligence does not enhance the "detectabilty" of life. Slime is as easy to spot with a spectrometer as dolphins are; radio waves or an actual visit from an alien race essentially just make them easier for us to find.

The Drake equation is not really the answer to how many aliens there are - it's just specifying the question in more detail, as your link says. I think we're getting a good handle on N*, fp and ne, and soon we should have a better estimate of fl, once we've explored Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter a bit more. Fi, fc and fL may be trickier.
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Paul Jon

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2009, 11:03:20 AM »

There are questions being conflated here: that there is life on other stellar systems is very likely indeed. That there is intelligent life amongst the various other worlds is quite likely. That does not make it plausible that any of these intelligent life forms are grey men who visit Earth in flying saucers in order to shove things up people's arses or leave enigmatic circular patterns in Herfordshire cornfields at midnight.
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McMullet

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2009, 01:07:52 PM »

I dunno, given all the alien abduction mythology on this planet, if we *do* travel to another planet isn't it a dead cert that someone will, as Douglas Adams put it "...cruise around looking for planets that haven’t made interstellar contact and... land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one’s ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antenna on his head and making beep beep noises."?

Aren't the future interstellar explorers going to be X-Files and HHGTTG fans, who'll essentially want to role-play the alien part and stage Roswell-type incidents just for shits and giggles...?
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2009, 03:13:23 AM »

as previously stated.... the phenomena we now associate with alien encounters have always existed and have been explained as angels, demons, djinn, faeries, evil spirits etc....we have simply put a new face to them
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Paul Jon

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Re: Aliens
« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2009, 09:35:47 AM »

I just noticed this thread is under "Grey Matters"....
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