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Thread: Humanoid Aliens

  1. #241
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Wally View Post
    Something like that yes. I had control systems in mind. The human hand-eye-brain is a biofeedback system and this allows for very precise control. We are for instance capable of moving our hands very fast and then stop suddenly at an intended point in space. This same kind of action is achieved with servo-motors in robot arms used in manufacturing. Amazing things can be achieved with a sophisticated enough feedback control, but some things are more controlable than others.

    Can a control system be designed that would make our mechanical trunk move fast and then stop suddenly? I think there is going to be some overshoot and it's going to oscilate around the intended point until it settles down after some time. Can feedback control iron these oscilations out?

    I think the trunk is well controlled for smooth, elegant Tai-Chi type motion not for high acceleration or decelerations.
    Human tongues are certainly capable of very fine motion: witness speech.

    As for aliens with trunks or tentacles, I suspect that they would be capable of similar speeds and accelerations as are human hands and arms. Check out the videos for how quickly squid or cuttlefish can move their tentacles to capture prey.
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  2. #242
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    Human tongues are certainly capable of very fine motion: witness speech.

    As for aliens with trunks or tentacles, I suspect that they would be capable of similar speeds and accelerations as are human hands and arms. Check out the videos for how quickly squid or cuttlefish can move their tentacles to capture prey.
    Yes, trunks or tentacles are capable of high speeds and accelerations as is also the case with a rope with a weight attached to the end, but I'm referring to controlled speeds and accelerations for reaching a particular point in space. The human tongue is kind of short and this results in low inertial moments and it thins out towards the tip further reducing the inertial moment. A long tongue without base support will be more difficult to control in terms of quick positioning. For instance the chameleon's long tongue is not well controlled: It simply shoots out, catches prey and pulls in quickly (like a rope) but there's no inter-mediate control of motion. I suspect the same is true about the way squid captures prey. However, in the aquatic environment buoyancy and water resistance are important factors to take into consideration and for now I was just considering the terrestrial case.

    Anyway, it might even be more difficult in the aquatic environment. I doubt whether a squid can move a tentacle quickly to an intended spot and then stop and then move it in a different direction quickly and then stop at some other point. This kind of rapid stop and go action is what I mean by controlled motion.
    Last edited by Paul Wally; 2011-Aug-02 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Grammar and punctuation

  3. #243
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Proof?
    It's engineering--do you honestly believe, in a universe governed by absolutely inflexible laws, that there are an infinite number of ways to do things?

    Look at convergent evolution. Why do fossa look like felines, thylacines like canids? They're only distantly related within class Mammalia, yet they dialed into virtually identical forms, down to their faces.

    Does that mean that other worlds will have dogs? No. But I do think it means that we will find vaguely dog-shaped creatures on some worlds. They may have feathers or scales, see via echolocation, run on six legs and spit sticky venom, but a lanky, fast-running, bilaterally symmetrical predator with its toothy pie-hole in a head out front makes a lot of sense.

    I think we'll see aliens that look a little like theropod dinosaurs. Bipedal runners with a tail for balance. They may not have front limbs, or more than two, reduced to non-locomotory roles, their faces may look more like Predators than dinosaurs. But there're so many worlds out there that surely Earth-style vertebrate jaws have happened again. If mandibles can happen, jaws can happen. Again, there's only so many ways to close a hole and push fangs into something. Tooth-shaped structures have evolved again and again in widely different clades--they're universals.

    Squid beaks look just like parrot beaks. They're made of different materials, but they do the same thing, so evolution has sculpted them to the most efficient, strongest shape to do the job.

    Life on Earth is so diverse that I think we'll have real trouble finding aliens that don't look a little like something we know. Seahorses, anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Also, define what the term "efficient form" means for thinking beings; if they had a form that was truly efficient then they'd have no evolutionary pressure to develop sapience. We only did so because we were the nerds of the animal kingdom and needed cleverness and tool use just to survive.
    I suppose I mean efficient at getting from place to place, doing what needs to be done, with the least energy possible. We're efficient at locomotion on land. Tool use, or no, we have that. Are chimps so much less physically capable than baboons? Yet chimps make tools, and baboons don't. Are sea otters, tool-using finches, and crows evolutionary gimps?
    Calm down, have some dip. - George Carlin

  4. #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Wally View Post
    Yes, trunks or tentacles are capable of high speeds and accelerations as is also the case with a rope with a weight attached to the end, but I'm referring to controlled speeds and accelerations for reaching a particular point in space. The human tongue is kind of short and this results in low inertial moments and it thins out towards the tip further reducing the inertial moment. A long tongue without base support will be more difficult to control in terms of quick positioning. . .
    So don't do it quickly. Does it really matter if it takes a few more hours to make a watch? Does slowness in certain tasks that require fine motor skills during later-stages of a species' technological development totally invalidate the viability of biological lineages spanning millions of years?
    Calm down, have some dip. - George Carlin

  5. #245
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    So don't do it quickly. Does it really matter if it takes a few more hours to make a watch? Does slowness in certain tasks that require fine motor skills during later-stages of a species' technological development totally invalidate the viability of biological lineages spanning millions of years?
    I'm just saying that rigid manipulators does have an advantage above the flexible ones for certain kinds of controlled movement. You're right it doesn't invalidate the alternatives, it's just different skill sets. Tentacles can do things that the rigid manipulators can't compete with. I can imagine an arboreal creature with long tentacles shooting them out to a distant tree branch and swinging quickly from tree to tree. As it speeds above the ground it may even use some of it's other tentacles to capture prey almost like an eagle catches rodents.

  6. #246
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    First off, what I mean here by humanoid alien isn't Star Trek-esque Homo sapiens with walnut shell-foreheads, but beings who resemble us about as much as raptor dinosaurs, or the Queen Alien from Aliens.

    There's a finite number of efficient forms, constrained by physics. Dolphins look kind of like sharks; birds, bats, and pterosaurs like each other.

    For really similar, fossa look like cats, thylacine like dogs. Though they belong to the same Class.

    How similar to us is reasonable in an intelligent, technological species?
    ------------
    Interesting supposition but how about Q-like beings or to be more exact "non-corporeal" beings ? ;-)

  7. #247
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    Quote Originally Posted by JuanPontin View Post
    ------------
    Interesting supposition but how about Q-like beings or to be more exact "non-corporeal" beings ? ;-)
    My belief is that neither would evolve naturally.
    Information about American English usage here and here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



  8. #248
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    My belief is that neither would evolve naturally.

    Or indeed be physically possible at all. How can you have beings that aren't made of anything?
    Calm down, have some dip. - George Carlin

  9. #249
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    Out of all the possibilities in the universe I would not be surprised if we found both, aliens more strange than anything mentioned above and aliens that would require extensive DNA testing to tell the difference from humanity.

    If alien life is as dense in the universe as some like to say there is no reason to think that we won't see mirrors of ourselves out there.

  10. #250
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    I don't think the math would bear that out.

    We have a rough idea of the number of stars in the universe. Assuming that every system has life, it's still too improbable.

    If there are an infinite number of universes, though, then sure, it would have to be true.

    I'm almost certain some of the same genes we have happened again. They're just chemicals, after all. Silk, chitin, resilin, they're probably out there, too.

    Technological aliens almost certainly will have developed the same artificial materials we have. Aramid, polyethylene, silicone rubber, steel.
    Calm down, have some dip. - George Carlin

  11. #251
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    If the universe is infinite and has properties similar to the visible universe then the chances of there not being perfect copies of ourselves is infinitely small. But if what we see isn't that much less than what we get, then no, there will not be perfect copies of us unless someone cheated. The odds are so small they can be completely ignored.

  12. #252
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    It is somewhat overwhelming when you think about what we could learn about ourselves if we only had a few facts about life in the universe. Hell, we don't even have proof that there IS life out there... pitiful.

    The solid fundamentals are missing from extra terrestrial biology... because as far as we know there is none. Its all guess work.

    Sorry if this doesn't directly address the question. I had written an argument to find that it was built on a base without evidence... assuming things about the possible patterns of life on other worlds that we just can't know at this time.

    I truly hope that my grandchildren, or their children, will one day have some answers to delve deeper into this topic.

  13. #253
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    i think we'd be very different from the aliens- but our sentient computers (cylons) would recognize each other immediately.
    "It's only a model....?" :-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3dZl3yfGpc

  14. #254
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    i think we'd be very different from the aliens- but our sentient computers (cylons) would recognize each other immediately.
    Could you explain your logic for this? At first glance, I am not seen it.

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