All the talk of new exoplanets has got me thinking. Unsurprisingly there are plenty of rocky lumps out there in the universe, of a similar nature to ours, many of which will probably contain some form of life.

Most sci-fi would have us believe that they will either share their amazing technology with us, use it to annihilate us or somewhere in between, but here's the thing that would scare (or disappoint) me the most: what if we're the most technologically advanced creatures yet to grace the universe with our presence?

2 thoughts on “Other-worldly”

  1. It wouldn't surprise me if we were, simply because all of these things take so long - planets becoming stable and habitable places in the first place; the first cells and the first life, and a suitable atmosphere in which said organisms can exist, and then their subsequent evolution, a few mass extinction events, the development of social structure (without which I don't see that you can have any kind of real technological advancement), and so on. I'm not sure it can happen much faster than it did here.

    I'm curious about other evolutionary routes life could take - do we absolutely have to be oxygen-respiring carbon-based life forms, or are there other possibilities, and other planets with completely different climates? More specifically, why are the most successful creatures on earth (for a given value of successful) all vertebrates? Is a spine necessary for technological advancement and world domination or are there other possible configurations for intelligent life?

    And does the ambition and drive you need in order to have real technological advancement always have to go hand in hand with the sort of ambition and drive that leads to war and genocide, or is it possible to be technologically brilliant and politically competent in a way that we're just not? And is that necessarily a good thing?

  2. There's a wonderful story told within Fallen Dragon (Peter Hamilton) of a civilisation who existed within a Nebula; their sky was black, they had their sun, and couldn't see any others. They assumed they were alone in the universe; that their star and they were an oddity and that of course you couldn't travel anywhere outside of their solar system: there was nothing there!

    Also, Fourteen-BILLION-years or the best part thereof. That's quite a long time.

    I have no idea if a spine is necessary for technological advancement, but it doesn't seem to be necessary to run a country... (Baddum-tish)

    I also wonder whether, if dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out by a mass-extinction-event of some sort, they would have evolved into something capable of producing technological civilisation of the scale which we enjoy today. I assume that we come from the same genetic sludge as them!

    ...this is where my understanding of Biology becomes based upon guesswork.

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