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Thread: Alien Logic

  1. #1
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    Alien Logic

    I guess I have started thinking about this because I have recently become a father for the first time, and I am having to relate to this creature that does not seen to follow normal human logic.

    The various Star Trek series have only barely touched on this. I never got into B-5, but I remember there was a character from a race that was so alien that only a few humans could have a conversation with them. It does seem possible to me that if we ever do make contact with a space faring species we will have a hard time relating to them.

    At the same time, if they are space faring they have to understand the same physics and mathematics we use.

    Can anyone give me some more examples of how this issue has been dealt with in science fiction?

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    Aside from the cop-outs like 'Universal Language Translators', telepathy or other quick fixes? I don't think a lot of books deal with this, when aliens are predominately featured a lot of times they are part of some Federation which all have a common language or they learned to speak English before appearing before us. I can't think of any sci-fi examples off-hand that go through a painstaking process of communication with aliens.

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    Even if the aliens are logical by our standards, that does not mean they are going to comminicate vocally. They could use sign language, chromatophores, phermones... This would not rule out eventual communication, but it would make it very dificult at first.

    There are a number of cop-outs in the Star Trek series. I think the universal translator is the biggest one. In Enterprise though they just accept the fact that someone with better than average linguistic skills can crack the code on any alien language in less than half an hour.

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    DS-9 did once. Unfortunately, it wasn't too impressive. It just took them a little while for the language translator to "figure out" the language.

    Oh yeah, and then there was the ST:TNG episode with the aliens who spoke things like "[So-and-so] when the walls fell." The alien captain kidnapped Picard and had him transported down to a planet to be alone with him and a beast on the planet as a means of developing a bond (fighting the beast together).

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    I saw that episode. It took Piccard almost 45 minutes to figure out the alien language. Correct me if I am wrong, the UT works on the assumption that all species have basicly the same brain structure.

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    Re: Alien Logic

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper
    I never got into B-5, but I remember there was a character from a race that was so alien that only a few humans could have a conversation with them.
    Possibly you're thinking of Ambassador Kosh?

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    Hmmm, now that I think about it, didn't Solaris (the book) deal with this to some degree? In that instance though it was an alien trying to communicate with us. Let's face it, the long and painfully slow process of trying to communicate with a new lifeform does not make for exciting reading/viewing.

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    The author Robert Sawyer deals with this alot.

    Several of his books have the aliens looking nuthing like a humanoid and many of them actuing nuthing like a humanoid. He does cop out with some of them slowly learning english or knowing english (throught many, many years of watching the humans).


    Like take the book Starplex:

    SPoilers!!!!




    This book deals with 4 different species: Humans, Ib, Waldahudin, and dark matter creatures. (dolphins are another species, but play such a small part in the book they are hardly worth mentioning.)

    Each of the first contact are tols second hand and in a short flashback. The first contact with the Waldahudin and the humans havd a innocent gesture killing several of each race thinking the other is acting agressively.

    The Ib is a amalgamatyion of individual beiongs and thinks differently than the "individual" humans and Waldahudin. Their words and "religion" is based off of their being linked as many individual speices.


    Well eventually all three cultures come upon a dark matter nebulae. or they think it is. They soon learn that it is actually made up of thousands of dark matterer spheres that reproduce and seem to niow ehat is happening around them. AS if they are being controlled throught a outside experience.

    Soon someone realizes that they might actually be alive and tries to communicate with them. It takes a very long time before they even are able to say anything the dark matter creatures understand. They start this out by using math. They get the symbols for prime numbers, addition, multiply etc. They then use this to get the other words.

    They then teach eachother what words mean. Like the human will say "hi" and the dark matter creacher eventually learns what the word means and the creature says its word fro Hi!.

    It takes a while for this to happen and eventually they start to converse.

    It seems that these creatures have been around since the begining of the universe. So time for them is no matter. They do not relate and passage of time as regular humans and the other species do. And in the book each of the species reacts differently to the evidenc eof a new intelegent creature.


    A very interesting read. I feel this portrays a "first contact" event beautifully and accurately.


    The author does cop out some with a super powerfull computer and force fields, but they do not detract much from the actualy first contact.

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    The hive mind has been done a few times. The plotline you mentioned sounds a lot like Ender's Game. The aliens had a hive mind, and killed the crew of an earth ship just as a precaution, not thinking that each individual was a sentient being.

    You would think that it would not be that hard to make the aliens look truely alien with modern special effects. Most aliens are still just humand with funny foreheads. The Horta in STOS is one of the few exceptions I can think of. There was also the Medusan, but we never got to see it.

    Just to medd with peoples heads someone can write a script with an alien that looks very human, but is totally alien in its thought patterns.

    I was just thinking of the line from MIB, "Human thought is so primative that it is considered an infectious disease in some parts of the galaxy. Kind of makes you proud, doesn't it?"

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    I thought the origonal idea of the xenomorph in the Alien seires was very good. The Alien was smart and impossible to communicate with.


    They did mess it up once they started to introduce the queen into it with her controlling throught a hive mind and pheramones.

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    I agree. The thing is, I am talking about space faring species. Intelligence does not necessarily mean technology. I think to achieve space travel a species must have more than animal cunning.

    There are certain things that I think all life forms are going to have. For one, self preservation. But in a hive mind that may not apply. You have to think of it in terms of a single organism instead of individuals. To achieve space travel the species must understand physics, engineering, chemistry, mathematics, etc. These are universal.

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    I agree. All spacefaring species would have that knoledge. languages will eb different, and even ways of thinking would be. But math stays the same. The only problem i see is if we have physics currently wrong (which i doubt). That would make discussion difficult.

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    That would be a big upset. What if when we come up with the grand unification theory we find out that both Neutonian and Einstienian physics are wrong? I majored in Philosophy, and something that came up a few times that pre-Neutonian "physics" were often right, or at least functional in the real world, though they were not based on anything substantial.

    How about a species that has never even developed fire or metal, but has managed to achieve a rather high lever of tecnology through selective breeding and biological engineering of its own and other species? The role-playing game Traveler 2300 had such a species. In any case they would not need the same understanding of chemistry and physics as we use.

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    How about a species that has never even developed fire or metal, but has managed to achieve a rather high lever of tecnology through selective breeding and biological engineering of its own and other species? The role-playing game Traveler 2300 had such a species. In any case they would not need the same understanding of chemistry and physics as we use.

    Wouldn't a race that biologically engineered itself to become an advanced space-faring race have a far more in-depth understanding of chemistry and biology than we do? They perhaps wouldn't learn it from petri dishes and lithmus paper but they would learn it nontheless.

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    Perhaps. They may have to come at it in a totaly different way. Humans were selectively breeding domestic animals for a long time before we even discovered DNA. If it is the focol point of all of their science they may be doing it without a full understanding of what is happening at a molecular level. Kind of like some of the guys I ride with who soup up their motorcycles. They do not know physics or engineering. They know what works, and may or may not care why.

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    C.J. Cherryh's 'Chanur' series of books had various species that did not understand each other well, if at all. The oxy-breathers could communicate and trade amongst themselves, but the philosophical and cultural differences of the various races didn't come across well. The methane and oxy-breathers could barely communicate. The t'ca and the oxy-breathers have the best communications where they can trade and at least transmit navigation info back and forth. The chi are associated with the t'ca but are friends/slaves/pets or something else (the oxybreathers are not sure). The knnn are just different. The t'ca can talk to them in a limited sense, as far as the oxy-breathers can determine, but everyone else pretty much has to just avoid the knnn ships as they do not understand(? follow, who knows) navigation rules and trade by grabbing something and leaving something else with no discernable pattern.

    Kizarvexis

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    I read a few of the Channur books years ago. Weren't the big space starions divided between the oxys and the meths? Taht must have been some concstuction project to coordinate.

    In line with the earlier posts. Can anyone think of a plausible way for a species to make it into space using only biological means? Sci-Fi has a number of creatures that are adapted to live in space. How could an animal get out of a gravity well and into space. Bar head geese have been observed flying at almost 30,000 feet. I have heard that mold spored can drife into the upper atmosphere, and possibly into space. Baloon animals living on gas giant planets have been featured in a number of scientific and sci-fi works, and we have sent manned baloons to the edge of space (have you read about Joe Kittinger's parachute jump from a baloon at 103,000 feet?). How could an animal create thrust in a vaccum?

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    "Solaris" was already mentioned. It's a general subject of many of Lem's books that it will be nearly impossible to understand and/or communicate with alien races. Other examples are "Eden", "Fiasco", "The Invincible" or "The Man from Mars". There are also some short stories about this subject.
    "Return from the Stars" is somewhat an example about how difficult it would be to even communicate with your own people after being away for some 100 years.

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    I missed the movie Solaris, and never read the book. Would you recommend them, Kucharek?

    100 years? I suppose that could drive a wedge between you and someone removed by four generations. Still, I think communicating with someone from 1903 wuold not be nearly as hard as an alien who might not even have the same concept of communication as we do.

    By the way. I was stationed at Panzer Kaserne back in the 80s. That is nead Boblingen. I have been to Karlsruhe many times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper
    I missed the movie Solaris, and never read the book. Would you recommend them, Kucharek?
    Well, I read it once a year and always find some new aspects in it. But I think, it is very much a matter of own taste if you like it. Give it a try.
    100 years? I suppose that could drive a wedge between you and someone removed by four generations. Still, I think communicating with someone from 1903 wuold not be nearly as hard as an alien who might not even have the same concept of communication as we do.
    The problem lies more in changed social concepts that cause many misunderstandings.
    By the way. I was stationed at Panzer Kaserne back in the 80s. That is nead Boblingen. I have been to Karlsruhe many times.
    The US troops left Karlsruhe some 10 years ago. Though it gave Karlsruhe a whole new quarter, the German-American Volksfest and especially the tons of american ice cream sold there are still missed by many people here.

  21. #21
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    I believe that kucharek, Ripper, and snowcelt all dwelt in the same area in the late 70's early 80's.
    When I was in primary/ jr secondary we had to figure out what we would do if we were stuck in the situation that has been mentioned in this thread.
    Great way for a kid to think outside the box , eh?
    If we run into aliens they will be beyond us. Think not? Think again. Any alien who makes contact with us will be so advanced (and prepared) that they would know our language.
    NaNoNaNo

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    I know. They have been watching our sitcoms for years. Mork and Mindy episodes are being watched by aliens 25 LY away. Scary huh? I just hope none of them have determined that it is all some kind of psychological attack and retaliate. On the other hand, how much worse could it be than what we are already watching?

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    Anyone seen Galaxy Quest? :P




    But seriously: In reality what is more likely: Would we be the ones to visit them, them to visit us, or the two to comminicate from homeworlds first?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Humphrey
    But seriously: In reality what is more likely: Would we be the ones to visit them, them to visit us, or the two to comminicate from homeworlds first?
    That's assuming they have any desire to communicate with us at all. Perhaps the knowledge that there is other life in the Universe would not strike them as surprising or novel at all.

    Had aliens sent a message to Gallileo I doubt the world would have received it in good light. More than likely the Vatican would cover it up or attribute the message to his communication wth Satan. It seems to me that communication between totally alien races would have to occur at just the right window of time.

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    It is a big assumption that the aliens would even care. How will we feel when we get to an inhabited planet and find out that they had known about us for years, but just didn't think were all that interesting?

    First contact is likely to be a bit dodgy. I can't remember the title of a rather poor book I read years ago, but the aliens communicated telepathicly, and had a dual brail that was in contridiction with itself. To make a decision it would have one mind form a complete thaought, the other form a contradictory thought, and then decide which to act on. Mind you , not which one was correct, just which to act on. Humans trying to communicate with them tended to go insane because they were constantly bombarded with contardictory thoughts at the same time. In some ways this is like the Hegelian thesis, antithesis, synthesis thought process, and in others like the Freudian id, ego, superego.

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    Arthur C. Clarke does a good job in his novels, although it's usually "lower" creatures- except the Monoliths...

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    Forget trying to communicate with aliens or with people from 1903. I had a hard enough time communicating with the entire population of France a couple of summers ago...

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    I am a professional military officer. The French do not exist in my universe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnwitts
    Forget trying to communicate with aliens or with people from 1903. I had a hard enough time communicating with the entire population of France a couple of summers ago...
    'Driving Monsieur Witts'? :wink:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper
    I am a professional military officer. The French do not exist in my universe.
    & dont even get me started on Parisian Taxi Drivers
    8)

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper
    I read a few of the Channur books years ago. Weren't the big space starions divided between the oxys and the meths? Taht must have been some concstuction project to coordinate.

    In line with the earlier posts. Can anyone think of a plausible way for a species to make it into space using only biological means? Sci-Fi has a number of creatures that are adapted to live in space. How could an animal get out of a gravity well and into space. Bar head geese have been observed flying at almost 30,000 feet. I have heard that mold spored can drife into the upper atmosphere, and possibly into space. Baloon animals living on gas giant planets have been featured in a number of scientific and sci-fi works, and we have sent manned baloons to the edge of space (have you read about Joe Kittinger's parachute jump from a baloon at 103,000 feet?). How could an animal create thrust in a vaccum?
    Well, IIRC, she didn't say how they built the stations. I would bet which ever race owned the system built the whole station and left the other side with the different atmosphere to be fitted out by those that would use it. It would keep the structure homogeneous, but the interior walls and equipment would be installed by the races that would be using them. I mean what kind of TV would a knnn want?

    Kizarvexis

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