Reading that the new James Webb telescope can determine whether distant planets have water or not, its hardly surprising that the search for life in the galaxy has stirred interest again. Where there’s life, there might be sentient life. One of the last SF tropes yet to be fulfilled and added to our current reality of meeting aliens. If this was really a digital reality and wish fulfilment, then we should have our first contact fairly soon. As it hasn’t happened, its still only speculation.
In some respects, I can understand the sceptics saying how would knowing there is life away from Earth would affect our world? It’s hardly like we can signal them and they come right over for afternoon tea and sandwiches. At most, it can prove life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, although not necessarily in the present and we might not be the only sentient life in the cosmos. Even so, unless we sort out our polluted world and its global warming, mankind is likely to be a footnote in Earth’s history as we’ve been barely around a fraction of the dinosaurs time here and gone in an instance of universe time.
Unless we can establish there was sentient life on other planets that has been going for over two millennia, we won’t have any idea whether or not they survive similar pollutions. I’m using two millennia arbitrarily compared to how long it took us to get to where we are technology speaking. It is possible that, sans religion, they might have achieved this earlier or some other obstacle to overcome and advanced into space. What kinds of factors that would favour their survival would range from being war-like or passive although, hopefully, a desire to travel beyond their home planet. Such things are the legends of Science Fiction.
Whether that would change how we see and act on resolving our current predicament remains to be seen. Knowing there has been other life, doesn’t mean it was or is comparable to our own. The assumption extra-terrestrials would be similar to ourselves or at least be humanoid is in the realm of SF films and TV series. Even so, we can speculate what they would be capable of far more than what they would look like.
Even so, we’ve always speculated as to what kind of sentient life. I doubt if the bug-eyed tentacled creatures would be likely. All the tensile strength in the world is not going to support the body weight unless they were from a liquid environment. It is far more likely that a sentient species would evolve in an air atmosphere simply because it’s the easiest way to access fire. Certainly limbs capable of manipulating fine objects or they would never be able to build anything. Theoretically, tools could be organic parts of their limbs but could equally be limiting because they would be too limiting.
They would still be obliged to the laws of physics we have so unlikely to start off creating organic spaceships so more likely to have a technological age. Considering the difficulty we have creating artificial intelligence ourselves, we can hardly expect another species to have it any easier.
To survive extended space travel, they would have to be capable of manipulating their genetic make-up to tolerate lengthy stays in space. I doubt if they would be capable otherwise. We are barely at the start of such a procedure although we might have to consider such things if we are to tolerate low gravity for extended periods.
From here, we can only speculate that mastering the genetic structure, we would be able to make it easier for hibernation for extended periods and certainly prolonged life. Certainly they might not want to lose species identity or let AIs take over and become extinct. Either or both of which would make it easier to live on generation starships and go to look for other life in the universe.
I doubt if such journeys would be at random. Like us, they would be looking for planets hospitable to their own type of life. One can only be arrogant enough to think that it might also be a nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere or at least an oxygen mix atmosphere as it would be the means to create fire. A methane atmosphere would actually be too flammable no matter what it is mixed with. Saying that, the universe could find something suitable. So many planets, so many options. To stay on one planet, apart from risking over-population and pollution, limits a species desire for survival.
I haven’t spent too much time speculating on how advanced their science would be. Presumably, as we haven’t found ways for us to master faster-than-light travel let alone time travel, they might also lack such deux ex machina themselves. Of course, if they found some other advanced techniques or even some science law that we might have ignored or not found yet, all bets are off.
Would such a species still come here, assuming they were looking for other life in the universe like we are? Assuming it wouldn’t have been our current Earth and the last 2000 years, then it would either be the dinosaur era or one of our ice ages. What they would find when they reached here is pure speculation unless they figure on any new civilisation being here once they arrive.
That leaves one remaining question: Next to global warming and nuclear holocaust, we need to be alive for any arriving sentient species? It would be a wasted trip otherwise and we wouldn’t want that. We can only hope its not an invasion fleet although they might turn their collective noses up at the mess we’ve made of our world.
On a slightly different subject, the amount of Science Fiction material from some of the publishers is likely to be down next spring. Please don’t just read our reviews and not pick up the books or magazines as they really do need your support. Don’t leave it to other people because you are actually the other people.
Thank you, take care, good night and let me be the first to tell you to welcome the new year of 2023 and hope it’s an improvement on the last one.
A Zen thought: Life isn’t infinite unless we make it so.
What Qualities Does A Geek Have: To speculate is to give new ideas.
The Reveal: There really is no place like home.
Observation: Word 2035 is the telepathic edition where your thoughts become words. For those of you who have had problems with using the audio version, this version is even harder to master as even your most random thought can incite both libel for seeing in print and slander for having it heard aloud on any audio ebook at the same time.
Observation: What’s the difference between DVD+R and DVR-R? About 2gB.
Observation: I know Supercar was designed in the early 1960s but considering the heat exchangers are on either side of the canopy, its crew must get hot legs getting over the side when it lands.
Observation: There’s an odd thing about the Lotus Esprit submarine chase in the 1977 film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, how did Stromberg’s people know and be prepared for it to go underwater? If they had stolen the plans, like Major Anya Amasova, it says little about Q Branch’s security.
Observation: For those of you considering a crocodile head on a humanoid body, should think about how they would be able to swallow food. They would have to put their heads straight up which would make them very vulnerable.
Observation: I thought the lines in ‘Aliens’ between Vasquez and Hudson on the Suluco about being mistaken for a man was new, but it was originally first said in a phone conversation by actress Tallulah Bankhead to gossip columnist Earl Wilson years before.
Observation: Watched ‘Doctor Who’ The Web Of Fear’ again recently and although the original scriptwriters couldn’t have known at the time, Lethbridge-Stewart didn’t seem that perturbed that they had to find a police box in the Covent Garden underground station which might also imply he met the Doctor’s later regenerations much earlier which has been noted in the Whittaker era.
Observation: A telepath in any super-hero universe is going to know the real identities of any masked vigilante or villain.
Feeling Stressed: Pressure comes in all forms. Publishing in all of its forms is like juggling balls and only have three hands.