A new project is aiming to have us reassess exactly what an intelligent alien life form might be like.
Most people think of an intelligent extraterrestrial as primarily human-like, a bipedal entity with two arms, two legs and a face not dissimilar to our own. The reality however is that our limited knowledge of how life can develop elsewhere in the universe may be blinding us to possible forms of intelligent life that are completely unlike anything we've ever seen before.
If an extraterrestrial intelligence is so divergent from us in Form, Function, and thinking then I suspect that no interraction with it would be possible. Come to that how would you be able to recognise intelligence in this context?
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Posted 31 January 2014 - 11:59 AM
Looking at the approx 1,5M species on earth and at the percentage how many of them look extremly odd´n ugly it cannot be excluded that an alien life-form is some kind of hyper-agressive, hyper-intelligent,hyper-ugly, monocrystalline-armored, four-footed, fireproof, low-temperature resistant, plasma-farting omnivore with reflexes 473 times faster than human ones, able to hunt in groups and with the size of an elefant.
"I think enormous harm is done by religion – not just in the name of religion, but actually by religion." - Steven Weinberg - "Don't kill the golden goose." - Malcolm McLaren - "I am discounting the reports of UFOs. Why would they appear only to cranks and weirdos?" - Stephen Hawking -
"Good drivers do have smashed insects on the side windows" - Walter Röhrl -
If you consider the MILLIONS of species on this planet and the observe their astonishing diversity, and consider that this is just one planet, you will realize that an alien life-form could be like ANYTHING. If you propose that an alien life-form on a nearby exo-planet HAS TO be vastly different from ANY life on Earth, how different would you say a life-form on the other side of the galaxy would have to be? The neighbouring galaxy? A galaxy in another local group? Another supergroup? And suppose there are billions, or only "just" millions, or say just thousands of planets in the entire Universe? Just how diverse do you expect life can be? And if you find something exotic beyond your wildest imagination, you have to consider: How would you define "life" in a UNIVERSAL sense. Not life on Earth.
And as for how you would recognize an alien life-form TO Earth, I think what you're looking for is something unique. Knowing how evolution works, if an evolutionary line is not viable, a mutation being a disadvantage rather than an advantage, the longer it's around the more probable it'll be pushed off the scene by more successful, more adaptive species. If a trait is an advantage it'll be the basis for all future branches of further development from the species. So what you want is a trait that is unique to ONE species. Something like psilocybin. As ethnobotanist Terence McKenna explains:
"Psilocybin is O-phosphoryl-4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine. What this means is that there is a phosphorous group substituted at the 4 position (you know, where the carbon should be) of the molecule. Now here’s the headline folks: This is the ONLY 4-phosphorylated indole on this planet. On this planet! This is not how nature works folks!"
So he proposes, rightly in my opinion, that psilocybin is a good candidate, although he goes on to theorize as to its origin and purpose, which is roughly outlined here: