View Full Version : Are we the only form of conscious life?

2003-Sep-15, 11:32 AM
Let's hear your thoughts. Please visit http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/1...1996/01/image/a (http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/1996/01/image/a) before you answer this question.

2003-Sep-16, 03:02 PM
The Universe is way to vast and still unknown to make that kind of an assumption. Its fun to wonder if there is other life out there isn't it? :D

2003-Sep-18, 11:15 AM
:huh: life always finds a way
look on our planet bacteria frozen for hundreds of years in the antartic thawed a began to live again, animals so deep in our oceans with no sun light feeding of thermal sulpher vents.
the life evolved in our solar system and thats such a minute part of this universe. life will have evolved some where how often should be the question.

:rolleyes: ;)

2003-Sep-23, 10:50 PM
Even if you only consider planets that could support life as we know it, the possibilities are so enormous that to think that we could be the only ones is so far fetched that it's laughable.
That's not even considering that there is likely life out there that lives where we would consider uninhabitable. (life as we don't yet know it)

2003-Sep-27, 03:24 AM
I think the stats speak for themselves... with over 100 billion stars in just our own galaxy (ie, 100, 000, 000, 000 stars) and who-knows however many galaxies in the Universe, how could we possibly be alone??


2003-Oct-05, 09:33 AM
Conscious life doesn't need to be like we are. Not all life needs to live in the conditions we need too. Apply that principle to the 10000000000000000000000 stars believed to be in the universe, surely there is conscious life out there on a planet or moon orbiting one of those stars. Maybe its that life which created us humans...

2003-Oct-06, 01:13 PM
Depending on what we mean by the word "conscious", I will assume you mean if there are other conscious beings elsewhere than on Earth. Yes, the possibility is there, if we look at what we know. There are other solar systems out there, with planets of varying size and orbits, and apparently some of them have been found to have an atmosphere. There are organic molecules in the interstellar gasclouds. And, we also know that life in this universe is possible - after all, we are here.

2003-Oct-26, 03:01 PM
Hi all. I find this whole area of astronomy fascinating and have a few thoughts of my own on the subject.

I agree with the other posters that given the number of stars in our galaxy, and the number of galaxies that there are, to be the only planet on which life has evolved is incomprehensible.

What I do take issue with is this automatic assumption that life must evolve to a level of intelligence given enough time. I don't think so. We have been on Earth for only a fraction of the time dinosaurs roamed the planet for. They had far longer to evolve intelligence and yet never even came close. Most the life on Earth, for the entire history of the planet, has never shown any liklihood of developing intelligence. Human kind is the exception, and we are the only species out of millions to have done so.

Isn't it likely then that intelligence is extremely rare throughout the galaxy/universe ? Personally, I think life in it's many various forms is probably quite common given that the basic building blocks exist in most cosmic gas clouds where stars are being born, and we can assume that those elements will exist on any planets that form to orbit those stars. Life can mean anything though from the simplest single celled organism to complex multi-cellular life-forms, such as a sloth or jellyfish or spider. There is no "ladder to success" however that dictates that life, given enough time, will automatically end up developing intelligence. It is extremley likely that had the asteroid not hit 65 million years ago, that dinosaurs would have continued to rule the Earth for many more millions of years, perhaps up to present day.

Given that we only got the chance to evolve because of that meteor, it is very possible that intelligent life would never have evolved here had it not struck. How many alien planets have had their evolutionary paths disrupted in this way ? The likely answer is probably most of them. It seems to me then that intelligence is not a logical evolutionary step on the ladder, but more a matter of chance and luck. In my opinion (for whatever that's worth), intelligent life-forms (i.e. technologically, culturally, socially and artistically advanced beings) are probably extremely rare indeed. Given such a races propensity for self destruction (if human kind is anything to go by) the chances of any intelligent race being around long enough to develop interstellar travel and then set out for the stars seems very, very slim.

2003-Oct-27, 05:45 AM
I don't know if 'conscious' life is out there, or even if it can be defined. However, I am a pretty strong believer that 'selfish life' is out there. What I mean is, life that propagates along its evolutionary path, while seemingly acting against obstacles in its path.

Earth has evolved selfish life - but our focus has been, historically, the efficient transmission of DNA. What seems to have worked for the life on earth is not the success of individual life forms, but the success of properly generated offspring.

Until recently, all life on earth has had its success based on the continuence of the species (you don't say 'lucy the dinosaur' died, you say the dinosaurs are extinct). Other life, other selfish life, might have different conditions to base its success on. However, in my opinion, for the life to be out there, it needs to either have successful survival traits, or be lucky.

For us, luckily, we're on the cusp of human evolution. Pretty soon now (I'm betting in my lifetime), we will no longer base the success of 'humanity' based on the survival of our offspring. Pretty soon, we'll have conquered known causes of aging - and we'll continue to conquer new causes of aging as they appear. This means, we'll no longer be worried about humanity 'for our children' - we'll be able to worry about humanity 'for ourselves'. In essence, earth will have two types of 'selfish life' on it. Maybe more if we ever make actual AIs.

I'm just giving that us as an example of two types of life. To us, we seem conscious. But the easiest way to define ourselves is as 'selfish'. We modify our environment to continue our survival (whether our survival, or our offspring).

So yeah, life's out there.

2003-Oct-27, 06:33 AM
Intelligent life may or may not be out there, but we should assume it isn't and then be pleasantly surprised if we find it. We know life if here on Earth, and like it or not, the responsibility for the future of many species has been placed in our clumsy hands.

Wouldn't it be a tragic irony if the only life in the Universe was right here on Earth and we couldn't get our collective act together to help it spread off the planet?

We've got to plan for the worst, but hope for the best.

2003-Oct-27, 08:22 AM
There are 1x10^22 stars believed to be in the universe. Thats a lot of stars. With that many stars it there is a chance that upon a planet that orbits one of those stars (or maybe a moon) life has formed. If you assume there are a few planets/moons that would have life, couldn't you say that there is or has been concious life on one of those planets? If its happened here on Earth, whats to say it can't happen elsewhere. You do have a lot of stars to play with.

2003-Oct-27, 08:20 PM
Statistically improbable that we are the only ones in the Universe. More likely is the fact that life is natural throughout the Universe and sentient life is common.

2003-Oct-27, 10:35 PM
You might be right, but the consequences if you're wrong are pretty horrendous. The possiblity, no matter how remote, that we're the only ones in the Universe should be cause for expansion off our planet.

Why do you take out a home insurance policy? Are you planning to have your home destroyed in a fire or earthquake? No, you take out a policy for the remote possibility that if it does happen, the consequences are disasterous for you.

Same thing here. Until we actually find evidence of intelligent life in the Universe, it's still an unknown. Exploration and colonizaton of the Universe should be our insurance policy against the possibility that the Universe is devoid of intelligent life. - and maybe even life at all.

2003-Oct-28, 11:55 AM
Regardless of whether statistics show it is likely that other conscious life could evolve, AFAIK we don't have any evidence that such life has evolved. Until such evidence is found, I think we need to assume we're on our own and that we should do the best with what we've got.

It's a bit scary to think of ourselves as completely unique and alone but also inspiring, as Fraser says, for exploring and expanding out of our home system.

2003-Nov-03, 08:16 AM

Statistically speaking, the odds are shorter that we're not alone, than the odds that we are!! It's a BIG Universe!

2003-Nov-03, 09:33 AM
And we may never know.
So, let's just go by the statistics.

2003-Nov-04, 03:16 AM
I thought your comment about statistics was silly, since we'd need to have some solid data before we could run odds and probability.

But then I found this article: Alien hunt in space may score by 2025 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/03298/234442.stm)

... linked from this site. (http://www.betterhumans.com/)

But you've gotta remember that Mr. Shostack gets his money by convincing people of the viability of SETI. Personally, I'm not convinced that it's a proper investment, but since it's from other people's money, I can't complain

The leading experts in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., recently completed the most systematic calculations ever performed on when the human race is likely to contact intelligent alien life for the first time.

2003-Nov-07, 10:47 PM
Strikes me as a very speculative article, which is indeed trying to convince people of the viability of the SETI program.

2003-Nov-07, 10:58 PM
One could perhaps say that our technology will increase the chances a lot, but we can never say anything for certain. I am very pessimistic about SETI, but I hope they will find something. I'm not expecting it to happen anytime soon though.

2003-Nov-07, 11:05 PM
SETI can't look in all directions at once, and until they get an off world detecting station (eg. the Moon/mars) then they will always have to sift through radio waves on Earth. Once they get an off world base SETI may get another 'WOW', but what if civilisations out their try and make their radio transmissions sound like they are natural? Then SETI may not find anything.

2003-Nov-07, 11:12 PM
It would be great to have giant clusters of radiotelescopes at the earth-moon L-points perhaps, to work together as one enormous interferometry. Or perhaps in the Sol-earth L-points.

Also, if the aliens would want to establish contact with us, they would make sure we would detect the signal fairly easily, unless they want to turn it into some kind of test. With our current technology I doubt we could detect much of their normal leakage of their internal communications, but that would certainly be interesting!

2003-Nov-08, 01:04 AM
People are pessimistic about SETI, but you'll find there are many people running Seti@home on their computers. My personal beliefs about the matter aren't consequestial, since I don't pay for SETI.

I wish they could find a way of having their cake and eating it too, though. What I mean is, that the data is pulled and sifted (for SETI), but meanwhile other astronomers would be able to use the data for scientific purposes. You know what I mean? Allow the astronomers to pull useful data about the local stars - finding planets, learning star age, etc.

I run folding@home (which is a protein solving program) because I believe that the medical benefits are more immediate - less of a needle in a haystack, and more of a 'work that has to be done eventually, anyway'.

2003-Nov-08, 07:40 AM
If you were looking for more with SETI@home then the sheer amount of data that could be sifted through would be less. But it would yeild more for the world I think. Though I don't think the SETI telescopes are designed for searching for natural radio emmissions.

2003-Nov-08, 09:50 AM
I wouldn't mind if some of the taxmoney goes to research like SETI, after all it's not worse than some of the research that has been going on, that we do pay for. It could also result in one of the most important dscoveries ever. And as for the radiotelescopes, the dishes are the same but yes the equipment would be different. I think SETI@Home is piggybackying on other research at Arecibo?

2003-Nov-09, 12:04 AM
May be, or not. Right now the answer i unknown, our technology is too primitive to answer that. Even if the answer is found it will be way long after our life time.
But viewing on how big the universe is, it is likely there is plenty of conscious life out there. :D

2003-Nov-09, 02:16 PM
Absolutely. I am sure there are many conscious species out there, the problem is to figure out how they would chose to communicate, what frequencies, etc. Also considering how many stars there are out there, not many of them would start sending out messages in every direction, but would probably need to know where there is life before trying to get their attention, I guess.

2003-Nov-10, 07:29 AM
Lots of speculation, educated guesswork, wishful thinking and (thus far, at least) fruitless searching, but so far the statistics are: Planets with life forms = 1.

Clear skies.

2003-Nov-10, 11:27 PM
Adding to those statistics:
Known planets capable of harbouring complex life: 1
Planets harbouring life: 1

Percentage of capable planets that do harbour life: 100%

2003-Nov-11, 07:15 AM
Absolutely. I am sure there are many conscious species out there, the problem is to figure out how they would chose to communicate, what frequencies, etc. Also considering how many stars there are out there, not many of them would start sending out messages in every direction, but would probably need to know where there is life before trying to get their attention, I guess.

We may not be able to detect alien communication currently, what if they are a race thast doesn't want to be discovered so they cloak themselves by making all their transmissions look 'natural.' We wouldn't be able to detect that. But communicating aliens, may not be intelligent enough to do something like that.

2003-Nov-11, 08:15 AM
Yes if they're advanced enough and if they care enough about who's watching them, they could hide all their transmissions, maybe even fake the chemical signatures of their homeplanet so it doesn't look like there's life on it. But then that could make others believe it's free to colonize... I was thinking the other day, about an advanced civilization building enormous structures, and if large enough we could see them, for example dyson spheres and similar. After all, their constructions could be larger than their own star.

2003-Nov-11, 10:49 AM
Adding to those statistics:
Known planets capable of harbouring complex life: 1
Planets harbouring life: 1

Percentage of capable planets that do harbour life: 100%

That was a great point. :D :D

Anyway, I don't know why they would hide.

2003-Nov-16, 04:24 AM
Well given the very very very very small fraction of time that humans exist in, if there are other life forms out there it is almost a certainty that they are either hugely more advanced than us or hugely less advanced than us.

In either case, i wouldnt want to be talking to us either.


2003-Nov-16, 12:40 PM
I think that the best case scenario for us and them, is if they are much more advanced than us as well as peaceful, which means we can't do them any harm and they wouldn't want to do us harm. Bad combinations are, for example if they are much more advanced but aggressive, or if we went on our own journeys and found a culture less advanced than us.

2003-Nov-17, 08:35 AM
Remember, 'advancement' has nothing to do with it. What's required for an interstellar species is the ability to leave their planet. As long as even one mutant did something to get off the planet (say, fling spores into space), then that species would eventually become dominant outside its system.

We assume that evolution = technology. But I think the main rule would evolution = adapting to new environments.

2003-Nov-17, 10:55 AM
Yeah I agree that it's not necessary to develop what we would call "technology" in order to leave the homeplanet, and that it might be possible that a world could be so strange that a species would have to, and could, adapt in such a way that it could leave the homeplanet.

2003-Nov-18, 04:39 AM
I disagree. If a planet inhabited by a species was under threat, the disaster would no doubt happen relatively suddenly. There would not be sufficient time for that species to evolve so that it could leave the planet, hence technology is only way.

Evolution helps species defend themselves against ongoing threats, not sudden disasters. Only a species with technology can "think ahead" and defend itself against threats that it may face in the future.

The only way a species might develop the ability to travel through space, is in my opinion, purely by chance. If one in a billion planets had a species capable of this, then they would be able to survive and spread...only then does natural selection kick in.

2003-Nov-18, 09:13 AM
Ah, but that's all that's needed - is one species being capable of getting into space. The other billion species can sit on their planets and not be an interstellar player. But the one species that does get out (reproductively), will be the important one.

And remember, 'technology' is in the eye of the beholder. As was pointed out to me, the ability to build a home (ala ants) certainly seems to be a type of technology. But we still consider ants to be unintelligent. If ants mutated such that they sent themselves into space, well, ants would be the dominant player (despite their lack of intelligence).

2003-Nov-18, 10:52 AM
While I still think it would be possible for a species to evolve so that it could leave the homeplanet (I'm not sure why they would evolve in such a way though), I would still say that technology and intelligence is better since the evolution of technology is much faster. But it all depends on what kind of species you are.

2003-Nov-22, 02:44 PM

I know you all are fond of space and will know quite a lot about it, but how much do you know about psychology & creational powers, of even natural balance ?

If you do this question is nice, but unneccesary

A natural body cannot carry two masters.........
Human life is far to big to live on this planet


You mind is electronical and connected to everything that works like a magnet, like the sun, our planets & beyond

You subconcious mind, thus the electronical connection, is 90% of your mind's capacity and YOU ARE NOT USING IT!!!!!!!!!!! this means that your thoughts & feelings spread throughout the whole of the Universe. (this is fact, no theory).

So what you'd say :

The total of earths feelings remain to wither wile you wither the earth......
In this you might conclude that de Universe practically feeds on what we feel/think & is in the balance we know it's in. If there would be another mind (The Universe would feel it as life) withering the Univers could not be one anymore (simple fact of concentration error)

To go one step furter : I can as good as prove you that our mind (maybe even our solar system) is the centre of the Universe & I am certain that it is the center of creation. It might even be trough that the centre of the big bang lies here or within us.

We have got to understand that the big bang happened for something that still lies ahead of us(humans) & that i's far past for the Univers itsself, this causes us to evolve. When we are capable to reach what the big bang happened for, only then we are capable of understanding the Universe completely & live within it.

If you think that a feeling Universe is impossible, you should watch the air react to your breathe on a cold day.(motion makes wind)

Remember this : The Universe & we were created from a spark, psychology proves us that our mind does the same thing, in order for a body to function the mind makes sparks, one spark for every movement(wich is thought out before)
Today we can even measure the electronical capacity of a mind & some people are able to see forcefields aroud minds (ara's) wich is no more than magnetical tension between the mind & the air it wanders.

This means that all you do reflects to the sky wich is ruled by planets wich are ruled by the Sun wich is rules by a Sun wich is ruled by a Sun(wega) wich is connected to several Suns & even a (dutch word : nevel)

If you question other life out there why don't you thin about a dimention full of dead people around the earth, a world where you probably used to live within.

All through human evolution the intelligent amongst us have always warned us for the Universe & it's stars & planets, about 12.000 years ago people were as capable of astronomy as we are now & this is not without a reason........

Peter Pan

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Mar-05, 08:51 AM

http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/afoe/they-are-e...-everywhere.gif (http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/afoe/they-are-everywhere.gif)

Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting the star Epsilon Eridani.

The relative proximity to Earth - just 10.5 light years away - means this is the closest star yet to have a planet found circling about it.

This raises the exciting possibility that the Hubble Space Telescope may be able to obtain an image of the planet.

http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMZVI5V9E...xploring_0.html (http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMZVI5V9ED_exploring_0.html)


http://obswww.unige.ch/~naef/planet/geneva...firmations.html (http://obswww.unige.ch/~naef/planet/geneva_confirmations.html)


Space Interferometry Mission, scheduled for launch in 2009, will determine the positions and distances of stars several hundred times more accurately than any previous program. This accuracy will allow SIM to determine the distances to stars throughout the galaxy and to probe nearby stars for Earth-sized planets

http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMR96XO4H...HD_index_0.html (http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMR96XO4HD_index_0.html)

maybe its only a matter of time


2004-Mar-05, 02:52 PM
[URL=Universe Today Forums -> Space and Astronomy -> Everything Else in the Universe->The science of Consciousness [/URL]

My posts in the referenced forum apply to sets of lifeforms arising anywhere in the universe. Be ready to cope with them; they are our most formidable (at least equal to) competitors. After all, the abiological universe is no slouch as a competitor!

Lets keep the competition as friendly and as constructive as we can. :unsure:

2004-Mar-10, 02:44 AM
the rescent hubble deep field of 10000 galaxies in just a sand grain area of sky is incredible, We cannot be the only life form with mind!

2004-Mar-10, 06:33 AM
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Intelligent life about 100 light years away would just be getting our first radio signals. 60 light years away, they would've got all our World War Two crap & probably ignored us, rejecting us as a schizophrenic lifeform. 20 light years. 10 light years. 4-point-3 light years. Who knows. They're probably disgusted...

...I just hope they're listening to the right music & watching the right movies...

Manchurian Taikonaut
2004-Mar-10, 10:52 AM
I feel sorry for aliens that have to watch programs like Jerry Springer TV from earth

2004-Mar-10, 09:16 PM
Hell I feel sorry that WE have to watch it!

OMG, here's a horrible thought--what if the aliens think normal people are like that! :wacko:

2004-Mar-10, 11:11 PM
First off (preaching mode): you don't need to watch it. The only reason why pop. culture is so wealthy and powerful is because people allow it to be. People buy the products of pop. culture with zeal, and so the industry booms. I don't believe there is a significant benefit from our focus on luxury, and I advocate that people put more of their leisure income and time into areas that will advance us (/preaching mode).

I find our interstellar signals to be a little scary sometimes. We're broadcasting more and more into space, more and more information about ourselves. Not that I'm paranoid, but we really don't know what's out there. Our signals have reached over 1200 stars by now, and this number will increase geometrically.

We need to push our own tech.

2004-Mar-11, 02:53 AM
Oh come now, people, let's not discriminate against poor Jerry!

If you had a choice between Jerry Springer and, say, Oprah, who would you choose?

Jerry Springer Show is great!!! :lol:

2004-Mar-11, 03:21 AM
Yes Jerry rocks!!

2004-Mar-11, 05:24 AM
In case it is just us, I'm all for getting off this asteroid target. I think from my anthropology classes, you need at least 512 people to have enough breeding pairs not made up of 2nd(or 3rd) cousins Take some frozen eggs and sperm along and you have extra insurance. :wub: