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#1 2007-10-29 08:35:55

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,273
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

The argumant is:

Alpha Centauri is the planet most likely to have intelligent life.
No radio waves have been picked up from there.
Therefore any intelligent life there either doesn't exist or hasn't invented radio.
(of course they could have invented radio 8.5 yrs ago and we have another month before the radio waves hit us. But we'd still be technologically superior.)

Don't get me started on dwarf stars. Life there would never have got aspirations to fly and break out of the confines of its home planet. The reason? Any species looking up at the sky would soon be dead of radiation sickness.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#2 2007-10-29 09:01:54

Tom Kalbfus
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Posts: 4,401

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

By the way, I've made a hypothetical calendar for an Earth like planet orbiting Alpha Centauri A at a distance where it would receive equivalent light to Earth.

Alpha Centauri Calendar    Year = 489.4216 days
A Grand Cycle where Alpha Centauri B orbits Alpha Centauri A = 59.1343 Alpha Centaurian years. Also about 1 out over every two years is a leap year with 490 days. Its interesting to speculate how human culture and civilizationg might have developed if this was our star system.

I'm thinking of writing a story to this effect, it is about a different Earth, I think I'll calle Oarth or Orrth, Alpha Centauri A would be called the "Sun" while Alpha Centauri B would be called "Sora" Sora orbits the Sun every 59.1343 Centaurian years. I think the major religion might be Dualtheistic with a God and Goddess, the Orange K-type star that is the B component often being referred to as the Daughter while the bright yellow star is the Sun or "Son" of whatever deity created the Universe, or so the myth would go. The Planet orbiting A would have just as many continents, land area and ocean coverage as the Earth but the coastlines would be different. There is a North American analog continent, a South American Analog, an "Africa", an "Asia", an "Australia" and an "Antartica".

What would be the same and what would be different. What conclusions would this world's "Galileo" come to? Would he discover planets orbiting "Sora" if we assume they are terrestrial planets?

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#3 2007-10-30 07:21:21

Antius
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From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 1,003

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

The argumant is:

Alpha Centauri is the planet most likely to have intelligent life.
No radio waves have been picked up from there.
Therefore any intelligent life there either doesn't exist or hasn't invented radio.
(of course they could have invented radio 8.5 yrs ago and we have another month before the radio waves hit us. But we'd still be technologically superior.)

Don't get me started on dwarf stars. Life there would never have got aspirations to fly and break out of the confines of its home planet. The reason? Any species looking up at the sky would soon be dead of radiation sickness.

(1) Alpha Centauri isn't a planet, but a triple starsystem.  But I guess you were refering to some hypothetical planet orbiting one of the stars?
(2) It is 4.3 lightyears away, not 8.5.
(3) Why would you assume that Alpha Centauri is the star system most likely to have intelligent life?  Presumably you mean most likely within our immiediate stellar neighbourhood, but what leads you to this conclusion?
(4) Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf and red dwarfs do indeed tend to be prone to massive solar flaring, which would make space travel in their vicinity quite hazardous.  Actually, all main sequence stars experience this early in their lives and red dwarfs have lifetimes ~1trillion years long, so every red dwarf in the universe can be assumed to be only a small percentage of the way through its life.  In a few tens of billions of years, most of them will settle down a bit.  But not all red dwarfs are unstable in this way.  Gliese for example, is relatively stable.  Also, it should be remembered that red dwarfs represent 70% of the stars in the galaxy.  Even if a large percentage of them are still within their hyperactive stages, that still leaves plenty of stable stars to choose from.
For a planet bound species, solar flaring wont neccesarily be disasterous.  Planetary magnetic fields will shield the planets from the worst of the flare and the planet's atmosphere would attenuate the radiation, even if the magnetic field were compressed.

Of course, all red dwarf planets within the habitable zone can be expected to be tidally locked.  that might produce some interesting climating effects.

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#4 2007-10-30 08:31:44

Tom Kalbfus
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Posts: 4,401

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

I tend to discount Proxima Centauri, those in the main A/B system would be unaffected by that though. One of the things Alpha Centauri has going for it is two Suns that could support life. In a Universe that is mostly M-class dwarfs, that is a rare thing, its like two lottery tickets for the price of one. As for Proxima, solar flares are breif affairs, the heating of any planets within the life zone ought to be brief and would tend to average out over time. In other words oceans don't tend to boil away instantly. Planets the size of Earth possess an awful lot of temperature inertia or specific heat. The surface can heat up and down but the temperatures of deeper layers will remain failry constant.

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#5 2007-10-30 08:39:32

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,273
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

No, I meant they would have recieved our communication 8.5 yrs ago and would have beamed out a message to us. Alpha Centauri is the most likely to have life as A is the most similar to Sol (containing enough volatiles for planets that could have life on, large enough for enough light, gravity, etc; small enough not to burn out in tens of millions of years; being in the same area of the galaxy; I.C.G.O.B.W.G.B).

Actually, all main sequence stars experience this early in their lives and red dwarfs have lifetimes ~1trillion years long, so every red dwarf in the universe can be assumed to be only a small percentage of the way through its life.

But no red dwarf star has ever completed a sequence, making it at best an educated guess. No life could exist at the moment even then, because they wouldn't have settled down yet.

Gliese for example, is relatively stable.

Which one?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#6 2007-10-31 01:53:40

Antius
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From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 1,003

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

No, I meant they would have recieved our communication 8.5 yrs ago and would have beamed out a message to us. Alpha Centauri is the most likely to have life as A is the most similar to Sol (containing enough volatiles for planets that could have life on, large enough for enough light, gravity, etc; small enough not to burn out in tens of millions of years; being in the same area of the galaxy; I.C.G.O.B.W.G.B).

Actually, all main sequence stars experience this early in their lives and red dwarfs have lifetimes ~1trillion years long, so every red dwarf in the universe can be assumed to be only a small percentage of the way through its life.

But no red dwarf star has ever completed a sequence, making it at best an educated guess. No life could exist at the moment even then, because they wouldn't have settled down yet.

Gliese for example, is relatively stable.

Which one?

Stellar physics is reasonably well understood and observed results fit theoretical models quite well.  I submit that there may still be surprises that could challenge existing models, but they are much more than just 'educated guesses'.

All stars are prone to solar flaring, including our own sun.  We survive these flaring events because the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere protects us.  The same is likley to be true for other planets.

We simply do not have enough examples of interstellar intelligent life to be able to determine whether our own main sequence star represents ideal conditions.

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#7 2007-10-31 07:18:57

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

We see much evidence that life can adapt to a wide variety of conditions, yet the Universe seems to lack intelligent alien life. Now if intelligent Alien life can get off their home planet and spread throughout the Universe, then it becomes much harder for them to commit "suicide" as a species, so why aren't we hearing intelligent signals from space? I submit that the vicinity of stars aren't the only place where intelligent life can live, there are all sorts of rocks and iceballs between the stars with plenty of fusion fuel and intelligent races could call home. The Universe is also 15 billion years old, and its hard to believe that the Universe isn't much more inhabited by now. It is darn suspicious this lack of intelligent signals we are getting.

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#8 2007-10-31 09:39:42

Terraformer
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Not really. Most stars (nearly all) won't have enough of the right types of material to build habitable planets. My view is humanity is supposed to go and spread life to the stars.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#9 2007-10-31 13:44:11

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

I think chances are, that someone would have gotten to it before us and that we ourselves would likely be products of that. The chances of us being the first to propigate life throughout the Universe should be vanishingly small. So why does that appear to be the case when we look in all directions throughout the cosmos. Why does the Universe not appear to bear the halmark of intelligent aliens at work?

One answer is that we are actually the first technological species to travel in space.

The second answer is that we are living in a cosmic zoo of some extraterrestrial construction and that we are only meant to believe we are alone in the Universe.

This second answer is really not hard to accomplish by a sufficiently durable species, it would require the large scale reorganization of matter and energy throughout a large section of the universe as this species spreads its presence. Along the way members of that species would achieve extreme longevity through uploading their minds into star system spanning computers and while they are doing this they would also likely have to fight boredom, as nothing in the Universe would really challenge them anymore, so to combat this, they create virtual realities in which they may entertain themselves, and its just possible that we may be simulated creatures living in one of those virtual realities designed to entertain these alien creatures. Now as far as I can tell, we appear to be living in a natural universe, but a very good virtual reality would emulate the real universe so well that people living inside would not be able to tell the difference, but one giveaway may be the lack of intelligent signals we are receiving from other stars, it makes me wonder if those other stars are really there, or whether those other star systems are being simulated at the same level of detail that our own Earth is apparently simulated at. It may be that those distant stars are only simulated with enough detail so as to satisfy our curiosity that they are real when we look at them through telescopes and other astronomical instruments. I have no way to prove this thesis, but it seems to me statistically, chances are that we are not the first, so another reason other than us being first is the more likely reason for our lack of detection of extraterrestrial civilizations. The "electronic cosmic zoo" hypothesis is my own addition, but you may be right, we might be the first.

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#10 2007-11-01 07:55:25

Terraformer
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Posts: 3,273
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Actually, the chances that we are the first is quite high. It takes that long for the universe to accumalate enough of the right materials, settle down, etc.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#11 2007-11-01 10:27:12

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Have you ever stopped to consider how big the Universe apparently is? For Each person alive to day there is a G-Class main sequence star in the Milky Way Galaxy alone, that is capable of harboring Earthlike planets. There is an estimated 200 billion stars in this galaxy alone, and that is just this galaxy, that is of course if what were seeing through our telescopes is in fact real. There are also billions of galaxies, the nearest full sized galaxy is the Andromeda M31 spiral which has twice the diameter of our own Milky Way, I would imagine that since it is a flat disk, it would have in excess of 800 billion stars in it. The chances of their being a technological civilization in M31 should be 4 times as great as in our own Milky Way, then the Fermi Paradox kicks in. Its hard to believe that all that space, matter, and energy was there just to create us and no one else.

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#12 2007-11-02 08:54:50

Number04
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From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Everyone here is assuming that an alien life forum would create radio waves.

Has no one though that they would be using a technology that we can not detect?

Or, if they evolved technologically along the same lines that we did, maybe they use strictly wired communications and do to emit radio waves?

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#13 2007-11-02 22:42:49

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Everyone here is assuming that an alien life forum would create radio waves.

Has no one though that they would be using a technology that we can not detect?

Or, if they evolved technologically along the same lines that we did, maybe they use strictly wired communications and do to emit radio waves?

It isn't just radio waves, it is the fact that they haven't colonized our Solar System by now.

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#14 2007-11-04 15:28:24

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
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Posts: 3,273
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Everyone here is assuming that an alien life forum would create radio waves.

I agree. And on this alien life forum we aren't producing any radio waves.

But alien species will be only slightly better than us still.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#15 2007-11-05 00:00:44

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

We should be getting alot more infrared from all the Dyson Spheres they enclosed their stars with, yet most stars dump their radiation into space.

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#16 2007-11-05 04:37:22

Terraformer
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Assuming they've built dyson spheres.

How come everyone seems to think that any intelligent life will be superior to s. They're probably thinking the same thing. Look at dolphins. They're at a lower stage of technological development. They're the second most intelligent species on the planet!


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#17 2007-11-05 09:14:34

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Dolphins don't travel in space. When you consider all the variables for intelligent life arising, the famous Drake Equation for instance, and filling in all the unknowns, that just gives you the probability of a particular planet giving rise to an intelligent civilization, but there is nothing that says such a civilization must remain on its home planet. Once a starfarring race begins spreading to other planets, the chances of encountering it go up by the cube of their exploritory radius. Encountering a civilization that spread to a maximum radius of 1,000 light years is 8,000,000 times as likely as encountering one that remained on its home planet, because that is how many stars that are likely to be contained within such a volume within a typical location of our galaxy. The galaxy is 100,000 light years in radius, with an average thickness of 2,000 light years, that means there is a 1 in 628.3 chance of our living in such a region if there is one such civilization in our galaxy. Our chances of encountering an expanding species is much greater that one who spends their time meditating within their temples of their home planet.

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#18 2007-11-07 10:07:45

Number04
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From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

You are also measuring "superior" as space faring. If we came across a plant with animals that had complex speech structure and a working hierarchy that also lived in peace with each other and the plant, would you not call them superior?

When you are talking about the unknown, words like better or worst don’t really apply.

I remember hearing someone speak on the subject of social behavior and how different environments could lead to vastly different methods of communication. Imagine an animal that lives underwater in dark conditions and uses luminescence as a form of communication. Now multiply that by the universe and who knows what’s out there. It’s not going to be a Star Trek type being that looks basically like a human, which is much too vain.

I don’t think that judging the unknown to our standards is in away a fair comparison.

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#19 2007-11-08 07:41:50

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

We are much more likely to encounter the spacefaring creatures, because they only have to happen once and get off their planet, after that they can modify their environment to suit them where ever they go, they don't have to live around a certain type of star and be at a certain distance from that star, they can live anywhere just about, Red dwarfs, red giants, Type O, B, A, F, G, K, M stars, they can live out in space with nothing but a source of fuel and a fusion reactor. The Drake Equation only concerns the chances of an intelligent space faring civilization developing, but once it develops there is nothing keeping it on its home world where it developed. Space faring species also get to reproduce alot more than their planet-bound bretheren. I think with all things biological, success is measured by a life form's ability to reproduce.

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#20 2007-11-08 11:32:27

Antius
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From: Cumbria, UK
Registered: 2007-05-22
Posts: 1,003

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

We are much more likely to encounter the spacefaring creatures, because they only have to happen once and get off their planet, after that they can modify their environment to suit them where ever they go, they don't have to live around a certain type of star and be at a certain distance from that star, they can live anywhere just about, Red dwarfs, red giants, Type O, B, A, F, G, K, M stars, they can live out in space with nothing but a source of fuel and a fusion reactor. The Drake Equation only concerns the chances of an intelligent space faring civilization developing, but once it develops there is nothing keeping it on its home world where it developed. Space faring species also get to reproduce alot more than their planet-bound bretheren. I think with all things biological, success is measured by a life form's ability to reproduce.

This is true.  They could even survive on ejected oort cloud worlds in the interstellar voids.

Given the supreme adaptability of a mature spacefaring species, this brings us back to your original question: where are they?

The galaxy is only 100,000 light years across.  At 0.1c an intelligent species could fly righ across it in less than 1 million years.  Even if we assume significant delays between the colonisation of a star system and the launch of new starships from those systems, it is difficult to believe that it would take more than about 10 million years for a spacefaring species to colonise every star in the galaxy.  Yet there is no sign of them anywhere.  If they did exist, we would recieve ample evidence simply from their radio signals.  Indeed, we should find artifacts of past space faring civilisations all over our solar system.  The fact that we don't signals the fact that space faring civilisations must be rare indeed.

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#21 2007-11-08 11:57:11

Tom Kalbfus
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Posts: 4,401

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

We are much more likely to encounter the spacefaring creatures, because they only have to happen once and get off their planet, after that they can modify their environment to suit them where ever they go, they don't have to live around a certain type of star and be at a certain distance from that star, they can live anywhere just about, Red dwarfs, red giants, Type O, B, A, F, G, K, M stars, they can live out in space with nothing but a source of fuel and a fusion reactor. The Drake Equation only concerns the chances of an intelligent space faring civilization developing, but once it develops there is nothing keeping it on its home world where it developed. Space faring species also get to reproduce alot more than their planet-bound bretheren. I think with all things biological, success is measured by a life form's ability to reproduce.

This is true.  They could even survive on ejected oort cloud worlds in the interstellar voids.

Given the supreme adaptability of a mature spacefaring species, this brings us back to your original question: where are they?

The galaxy is only 100,000 light years across.  At 0.1c an intelligent species could fly righ across it in less than 1 million years.  Even if we assume significant delays between the colonisation of a star system and the launch of new starships from those systems, it is difficult to believe that it would take more than about 10 million years for a spacefaring species to colonise every star in the galaxy.  Yet there is no sign of them anywhere.  If they did exist, we would recieve ample evidence simply from their radio signals.  Indeed, we should find artifacts of past space faring civilisations all over our solar system.  The fact that we don't signals the fact that space faring civilisations must be rare indeed.

Yes that fact has made me suspicious of whether we are living in the real Universe. Have you ever seen the movie the Matrix.
Lets suppose there was an intelligent space-faring race that did precisely what you suggest, they conquered a whole galaxy and several others in the space of a few million years. Now what does that race do for entertainment? They've conquered a sizable chunk of the Universe. Does the presence of one intelligent species preclude the development of others? So far in our world, I see no evidence that evolution has come to a complete halt, but I think the chances are faily good that we would have evolved in a section of space that was already occupied by some other space-faring race, yet it appears our galaxy is in it natural state without interference by some extraterrestrial civilization, but I say "appears". An intelligent species that is millions of years ahead of us in the future could indeed fool us into thinking that we are all alone in the galaxy, this is the cosmic zoo hypothesis.

One crude way to set up a zoo, is to construct a giant sphere around our solar system and project only natural stars on its inside surface, basically a giant planetarium, this sphere also blocks radio waves, infrared, you name it and it allows us only to see what they want to show us. This seems to be alot of trouble just to keep us ignorant of their presence.

The other kind of cosmic zoo is the Matrix Zoo. For all we know the intelligent race that settled the entire galaxy in a few million years may have been us. We might have done this already, but those were the real humans, and we're not real. We could be living in a simulation of a past era that occured millions of years ago before interstellar colonization began, it may be later than we think. A very good simulation would be hard to tell by those being simulated from the real thing as the mathematical computations would simulate our eyes that see, the photons entering them and out minds that process this sensory input. To our minds, the world being simulated could be presented to seem very real indeed.

or we may indeed be the very first space faring civilization in the galaxy, but what is more probably?

Seems to me that being the very first space going civilization happens only once per galaxy, and then the galaxy becomes civilized. So are we living in the real universe of in a replay of that Universe's past?

There can be many such simulations, but the reality only happens once. So how much do you want to bet which ones are we?

There are some advantages to being a simularicum if that is what we are. If the program was made right there could be a sort of afterlife after are deaths. There may be other simulations running where the people simulated are aware that their Universe is not real, we are just not one of those simulations. Now what could be the purpose of the programmers to make us believe we live in an untamed and unconquered galaxy? I could think of several.

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#22 2007-11-10 07:54:01

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,273
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Dolphins don't travel in space.

Exactly, Dolphins are at a lower technological development than us. And the fact that they don't have hands to use tools and live in water works against them. Water worlds would be the most likely habitable planets to find (increase the Earths mass just a little bit and dry land dissappears) and any intelligent species there physically wouldn't be able to build spacecraft, they'd have to rely on a more advanced species to take them off their planet.

Also gas giants are much more likely to form than habitable planets.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#23 2007-11-10 08:35:49

Tom Kalbfus
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

Dolphins don't travel in space.

Exactly, Dolphins are at a lower technological development than us. And the fact that they don't have hands to use tools and live in water works against them. Water worlds would be the most likely habitable planets to find (increase the Earths mass just a little bit and dry land dissappears) and any intelligent species there physically wouldn't be able to build spacecraft, they'd have to rely on a more advanced species to take them off their planet.

Also gas giants are much more likely to form than habitable planets.

Sounds like you've been reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

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#24 2007-11-10 13:10:11

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
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Posts: 3,273
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Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

I have but that's beside the point. Dolphins in THGTTG shift along the axis of improbability. The point is dolphins are pretty intelligent, they've had longer than humans but they physically cannot build spacecraft. Any alien life will most likely be on a water world and thus be built like a dolphin and not be able to build spacecraft (except with their teeth to hold tools?)


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#25 2007-11-17 12:53:47

Tom Kalbfus
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Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Why any intelligent life will be inferior to us

I have but that's beside the point. Dolphins in THGTTG shift along the axis of improbability. The point is dolphins are pretty intelligent, they've had longer than humans but they physically cannot build spacecraft. Any alien life will most likely be on a water world and thus be built like a dolphin and not be able to build spacecraft (except with their teeth to hold tools?)

Having manipulative appendenges is just as much a requirement for intelligent civilizations as is having brains. Dolphin brains aren't evolved for symbolic logic for instance, their ability to vocalize is somewhat limited, and they have no written language for passing down knowledge to future generations as they have no arms.

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