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What are the chances of discovering alien life?

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posted on Sep, 1 2018 @ 01:48 AM
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originally posted by: EnigmaChaser

originally posted by: Ectoplasm8
a reply to: Archivalist

Remember to factor in how many times high intelligence evolved on Earth, the perfect host for high intelligence. 1 over how many billions of species? If it was likely to occur and an outcome or product of evolution, where is it besides humans? Basic life is most likely to exist on other planets, high intelligence, not so much.


The only thing that makes that a tough argument is that you’re assuming other planets have a similar number of species (and we have 8.7 million known species - maybe 11 on the high end). What if a planet was 500x larger than earth and had trillions of species (or even a billion species!) - suddenly the probabilities shift in favor of intelligent life existing.


That's a good point, but it still doesn't address why in an environment perfectly suited for high intelligence, it only happened once. It shows it happens through a series of extremely unique mutations and is not a part of the fundamental thrive and survive traits. All animals have these baseline traits and none go far beyond that. There's really no reason for high intelligence to arise. Apes were successful as a species with basic intelligence, the branch of high intelligence wasn't because there was an evolutionary drive and need.

If there was a mass-extinction event, would high intelligence evolve again? Most likely it wouldn't. I'm not saying it isn't possible that there are highly intelligent alien species out there, I'm saying given the example of Earth, it would be extremely rare. I also think it's ridiculous to assume they would be humanoid. Depending on their environment, they could take any form.




posted on Sep, 1 2018 @ 04:09 AM
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a reply to: Ectoplasm8



I also think it's ridiculous to assume they would be humanoid. Depending on their environment, they could take any form.


They could take any form within reason. I've seen people arguing for octopii and cloud-gliding membranes which shows how imagination can overwhelm sense. If you're talking 'high intelligence' as in technological, I think the humanoid template becomes more likely and possibly inevitable. Sure enough, there might be seven-limbed beings with six eyes and spaghetti fur, but natural selection probably wouldn't go there.

Some things will have to be in place for technological life to arise. A breathable atmosphere for starters where fires can exist. Naturally, they'd need fire to get on the path to metal-working and tool usage dictates a certain physiology. Controlled fire is dependent on fuels which presupposes some type of plant life which further ties in to the breathable atmosphere.

There's good reason to think a favourable planet/moon for technological life would be similar to our own. Not because it's all we can conceive of, but because of necessity. Eco-systems, food chains and social drivers are all contributing factors to why we've got a flag on the Moon. Those elements fall away when people speak of gas planets and water worlds.

Still, I certainly agree that 'high intelligence' is likely to be very rare and we might be it. It's profoundly awesome to consider how many things had to be just so for us to be here at all. Can such unlikely odds occur again and again? I'm old enough to remember when the Moon was known to be dry and exoplanets were speculative and thought to be rare. Now we know the Moon isn't dry and that planets outnumber the stars in the sky. For me, it's a big case of who knows?



posted on Sep, 1 2018 @ 03:18 PM
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a reply to: R1CK3O

R1CK30,

The past 20 years of astrobiology have revealed to us where we should look for life like us. We know the stellar and galactic habitable zones. We know that life like ours requires a specifically stellar metallicity and a rocky planet with the presence of liquid water. We know that we need to look for a stable zone of clearing in the galaxy with evidence of a recent radioactive burst to spur the evolution of complex, intelligent life.

That's what we know now. We can start looking for these conditions now, in our backyard and in other galaxies. But our chances of meeting one of these other species are very slim. If we are very lucky, we may detect transmissions from these worlds, but that is all.

I like your worldview, though.




posted on Sep, 2 2018 @ 01:00 AM
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a reply to: Kandinsky

Just looking at the diversity of species on Earth, we really have no idea what shape an intelligent alien being would take in a completely different environment. We would have difficulty describing how a new animal species would evolve on our own planet after a mass-extinction, much less one where we don't know the factors involved. How many could predict 100 foot 50 ton creatures roaming the Earth? Evolution could have taken a path during this period and a type of intelligent dinosaur evolved with reptilian or bird features. Instead of dinosaurs, maybe insects dominated the planet and a branch of evolution mutated to create small upright intelligent insectoid beings. Maybe on another planet 360 degree vision is an important part of survival and creatures with multiple eyes evolved. Maybe flight is an important part of survival and winged creatures exist. Maybe high intelligence arises from the oceans and octopus-like beings evolved using tentacles as we use our hands. Maybe octopus like creatures evolved on land. The evolution of hands with an opposable thumb may not be limited to a human form elsewhere. There are endless unknown possibilities on other planets.

I think the humanoid shape is a safe unimaginative way to describe what might exist. I've mentioned this before, I think the "gray" described is an anthropomorphic stereotype and caricature of the way humans view intelligence and an advanced species:

Large Bulbous Head = Large brain/High intelligence (think high foreheads, etc.)
Large Eyes = Wise/Intelligent (think the wise owl myth) - Communication via telepathy "though" the eyes.
Small Thin Bodies = Evolved past the need for size and strength, they rely on brain power rather than muscle.
Small Ears = Hearing not essential for communication using telepathy.
Small Mouth = Again, communication not verbal but is made through telepathy.
Small Nose = Visually symmetrical and proportionate to the features above.

Human-centric, literal, and lacking imagination.



posted on Sep, 2 2018 @ 04:00 AM
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a reply to: Ectoplasm8

A lot of things are possible.


I don't know if you noticed, but some of your suggestions seem to favour the 'humanoid template' too. Those intelligent dinosaurs would be upright bipeds with two arms and hands to manipulate tools. A problem with the insects is there's no individuality despite being amongst the oldest forms of life on the planet. Same with the wings idea unless they (Flash Gordon!) have arms too. Birds can be comparatively smart, but won't be setting any fires until they select for an extra pair of feet. I can't see the octopus evolving on land as it's entirely adapted to a marine environment; it'd dry out near fires. Also tentacles lack the sophistication of hands and would need to become far more fine-tuned to become technological.




I think the humanoid shape is a safe unimaginative way to describe what might exist. I've mentioned this before, I think the "gray" described is an anthropomorphic stereotype and caricature of the way humans view intelligence and an advanced species:


I don't disagree with the image of 'greys' and the design has been almost inevitable in comics for decades. We had 'The Mekon' in the UK for years before greys became a thing. What I was trying to say wasn't based in ufological culture or science fiction. I wasn't pitching at greys or aliens. I was raising points about life on other planets and how evolution might very well favour the humanoid template because it's a good design and fit for purpose.



posted on Sep, 2 2018 @ 12:23 PM
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originally posted by: Kandinsky
a reply to: Ectoplasm8

A lot of things are possible.


I don't know if you noticed, but some of your suggestions seem to favour the 'humanoid template' too. Those intelligent dinosaurs would be upright bipeds with two arms and hands to manipulate tools. A problem with the insects is there's no individuality despite being amongst the oldest forms of life on the planet. Same with the wings idea unless they (Flash Gordon!) have arms too. Birds can be comparatively smart, but won't be setting any fires until they select for an extra pair of feet. I can't see the octopus evolving on land as it's entirely adapted to a marine environment; it'd dry out near fires. Also tentacles lack the sophistication of hands and would need to become far more fine-tuned to become technological.




I think the humanoid shape is a safe unimaginative way to describe what might exist. I've mentioned this before, I think the "gray" described is an anthropomorphic stereotype and caricature of the way humans view intelligence and an advanced species:


I don't disagree with the image of 'greys' and the design has been almost inevitable in comics for decades. We had 'The Mekon' in the UK for years before greys became a thing. What I was trying to say wasn't based in ufological culture or science fiction. I wasn't pitching at greys or aliens. I was raising points about life on other planets and how evolution might very well favour the humanoid template because it's a good design and fit for purpose.


I agree with this train of thought - though also acknowledge that this is based on our understanding of our world/other worlds and that on the far side of the universe things could be wildly different than here.

To me, the humanoid “template” makes logical sense. If we had 6 arms, for instance, that could be cumbersome and more resource intensive to accommodate. If we weren’t upright/bipedal, that could be problematic as well. Environment depending, it would make sense that other “intelligent” life would select for efficiency - which to me speaks to the human “template”.

It also makes sense to me that a planet would have only one - maybe a handful at most - species of human level intelligence or greater. I say this because those species would most likely work to assert dominance and get to the top of the food chain - meaning they would kill each other off until one remained. Imagine we had another intelligent species on our planet - humans would probably congregate with other humans - the other species would congregate and you’d end up with this tribal scenario until someday things got messy and we went to war and either we were left or they were. So to the point of a previous post, it does make sense that intelligent life is rare, spread out and hard to find.



posted on Sep, 2 2018 @ 01:16 PM
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a reply to: EnigmaChaser

Exactly. It's not conclusive at all, but it's reasonable speculation. The environment for technological life would be so similar to ours that evolution may very well be convergent with ours.



It also makes sense to me that a planet would have only one - maybe a handful at most - species of human level intelligence or greater. I say this because those species would most likely work to assert dominance and get to the top of the food chain - meaning they would kill each other off until one remained.


Planet or Moon. With what little we know, it appears we out-competed the Denisovans, Neanderthals, Heidels etc. There are sites in the Rift Valley where we massacred Giant Baboons by driving them over cliffs. On top of that, we've decimated nearly every species of giant fauna across the world. Tool use seems to be a watershed moment for intelligent creatures to become apex predators. It's like a seminal moment that's defined by novelty, creativity and has to be emulated by others who recognise the advantages.



So to the point of a previous post, it does make sense that intelligent life is rare, spread out and hard to find.


Very rare indeed if we place our time-line across the millions of years of complex life. Back in the early years of the Genome Project they found that homo sapiens hit a bottle-neck. It was during the Ice Age and we very nearly didn't make it.

There's a TED talk by some scientist who argues that life attaining our level is so against the odds that he thinks we're the only ones in the known Universe. It's hard to fault his reasoning.



posted on Sep, 2 2018 @ 02:39 PM
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originally posted by: Kandinsky
a reply to: EnigmaChaser

Exactly. It's not conclusive at all, but it's reasonable speculation. The environment for technological life would be so similar to ours that evolution may very well be convergent with ours.



It also makes sense to me that a planet would have only one - maybe a handful at most - species of human level intelligence or greater. I say this because those species would most likely work to assert dominance and get to the top of the food chain - meaning they would kill each other off until one remained.


Planet or Moon. With what little we know, it appears we out-competed the Denisovans, Neanderthals, Heidels etc. There are sites in the Rift Valley where we massacred Giant Baboons by driving them over cliffs. On top of that, we've decimated nearly every species of giant fauna across the world. Tool use seems to be a watershed moment for intelligent creatures to become apex predators. It's like a seminal moment that's defined by novelty, creativity and has to be emulated by others who recognise the advantages.



So to the point of a previous post, it does make sense that intelligent life is rare, spread out and hard to find.


Very rare indeed if we place our time-line across the millions of years of complex life. Back in the early years of the Genome Project they found that homo sapiens hit a bottle-neck. It was during the Ice Age and we very nearly didn't make it.

There's a TED talk by some scientist who argues that life attaining our level is so against the odds that he thinks we're the only ones in the known Universe. It's hard to fault his reasoning.


Good points.

I’ll add to that the notion of being able to have enough security/stability in your environment to be able to pass this knowledge along and enough safety to have time to think about advancement/strategy/“technology” and ways to employ those things.

We could then shift to the notion of the agrarian society and the impact that had on our advancement of a civilization.

Though I believe we’re not alone in the universe, when you start lining up all of the basic needs that would have to be met just to transfer the knowledge (never mind the biology to be able to do the thinking) it fairy well supports how few “intelligent” life forms likely exist - at least near by.

It’s also possible we only talk about finding “them” because we have always been alone as a species without a mental equal in the animal kingdom - so it sounds interesting. Given everything we have discussed in this thread, it’s possible finding “them”, even if/when we do, won’t present some serious problems (e.g they may not be benevolent, conflict will likely arise at some point, etc.).

Maybe it’s better to just hang out on our rock and worry about ourselves - we can worry about “them” if they ever stop by.



posted on Sep, 2 2018 @ 03:28 PM
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a reply to: EnigmaChaser

Malevolence, conflict, and casual destruction may be a by-the-by for humans in relation to other species and fellow races, but it's true we assume an extraterrestrial visitor will, in essence, be better than us, that they'd have a Human Resources Dept that researched and promoted humanity's traits with understanding and diplomacy, akin to Spielberg's 1977 opus.

Alternatively, they'll forego Spielberg and go straight to Rod Serling...

"IT‘S A COOKBOOK!!!"




edit on 2-9-2018 by ConfusedBrit because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2018 @ 06:23 AM
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I think everyone is going to have to accept that we may never see some alien mother ship swoop down to our rescue.
If Earth exists then it's impossible for life not to exist elsewhere and we have to accept that what we find out in space will be a bacterial form or fossil of our past selves (DNA/RNA)
Alien technology is something we have to figure out ourselves but overpopulation is an issue right now not the economy IMO.

If I was an extraterrestrial being visiting earth in a spaceship and took a quick glance and saw, Religious wars and aggressive tall monkeys fighting each other with ballistic weapons, I would f*** off in an instant.


Just look at the human race.
we can't even recycle our waste.
edit on 7-9-2018 by StrangeQuark96 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 7 2018 @ 08:01 AM
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a reply to: StrangeQuark96

Its actually worse than that.

We can recycle our waste, the technology exists to do so, the methods are known of and well researched, with practical demonstrations and repeatable results, the works.

But we just DON'T recycle our waste, we CHOSE not to, or rather, those calling the shots chose not to.

Even in places where households are forced to sort their own waste into different bins, depending on the type of contents, its common for that waste to end up in landfill in FAR too many nations, including my own. My councils record on recycling is terrible, with something like only 12% of the trash we citizens sort, getting recycled.

That is probably a bigger turn off than all the wars put together. Conflict is part of nature, but wastefulness is not.



posted on Sep, 7 2018 @ 08:23 AM
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a reply to: StrangeQuark96


Or, they may have a look at our (to them) primitive weapons and decide to have a pop at us. Who knows?



posted on Sep, 7 2018 @ 03:49 PM
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originally posted by: oldcarpy
a reply to: StrangeQuark96
Or, they may have a look at our (to them) primitive weapons and decide to have a pop at us. Who knows?

They's still need to have a reason to do that. Our resources? If they can fly between planets, they can find raw materials much more easily in space rather than at the bottom of our gravity well.

My best answer to the Fermi Paradox is that space is really big, and we're basically uninteresting.




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