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There are not an infinite number of grains of sand on Earth, but for all intents and purposes there may as well be. I feel that the same goes for stars in the universe. I would speculate that there are quite a few planets out there that are practically indistinguishable from our own, and that there are quite a few more that are indistinguishable from any other particular planet you might pick.
As far as intelligent life goes, I don't think we really have any idea how rare or common it might be. It would certainly be odd if intelligent life were the only thing in the universe of which there was only a single example, considering that there are billions and billions of everything else.
If we had, say, 100,000 life-bearing planets that we could examine of which none had what we would call intelligent life, then I would suppose that it's pretty uncommon. But our sample size so far is 1, which is pretty meaningless when it comes to drawing conclusions. We could just as easily look at the fact that 100 percent of the life bearing planets we know of harbor intelligent life and conclude that intelligence is an inevitability once life begins. Either way we're working with some pretty scant information
Assuming that intelligent life is out there, I wouldn't put too much stock in what our science tells us these other people can and can't do, our understanding of physical laws notwithstanding. Even our current physics suggests that there may be ways around the speed of light limit in terms of traveling vast distances. I see no reason to suspect that a civilization several million years ahead of us regarding science and technology will not be able to do things that we consider absolutely impossible.
Here's another thought: We talk about this quality we call "intelligence" as if it is the end-all of life. There are lots and lots of life forms on Earth, but there are very few we would consider intelligent. From our perspective, intelligence is a quality that separates us from the other nonintelligent life on our planet in a fundamental way.
But suppose there is another quality out there, let's call it "superness" for lack of a better term. Perhaps species that are super are as fundamentally different from intelligent species like us as we are from, say, fish or insects. In other words, superness is to intelligence as intelligence is to nonintelligence. Of course this is speculation, but can we think of any reason why there would be one and only one such fundamental dividing line in the hierarchy of life?
Originally posted by addygrace
Dr. Neil DeGrasse is wrong about the difference in chimps and humans.
It's not 99%.
Taking into account deletions and insertions it's much lower. Even if it was 99%, it means nothing. People think that it's some kind of profound connection. It's how genes are used that's important. We have 1/3 identical DNA to the Dafodil. We are not 1/3 Dafodil.
The main problem I have with his interestingly disturbing idea is how he equates DNA sequence with intelligence. It makes no sense. It's the expression of the genes that effects the organism. Everybody assumes this 1.5% difference in DNA between Chimps and Humans causes every difference we see between the two. It actually doesn't make any difference. You would think Dr. Neil DeGrasse would know this, but I guess not.
Originally posted by ProudBird
reply to post by ButterCookie
Except....our genes haven't been "genetically engineered".....
.....unless we wish to make an 'argument' for Extra-terrestrial" involvement, and interference going back for over 100.000 years??
This is a GREAT "science fiction" story, perhaps a novel or.....a motion picture concept idea.....
.....but, the simple FACTS of the other and many varied species on our planet.....to include our closest "cousins" on the genetic scale........well.
The "idea" of "genetic manipulation" (at some dim, dark past time) just doesn't hold any water.....when viewed by those experts in the field of this science.
I mean.....WOW!!!! If only ONE geneticist happened upon this 'COUP' OF A LIFETIME!!!!!!!!
He (r she) would be "uber"-famous, and rich beyond their wildest dreams!!!!
....how many geneticists are there, in the World?????
1. Panspermia is only a theory. It's not science at all.