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Might alien technology evolve similar to our own

  1. Dec 9, 2014 #1
    I've pondered this a lot recently. I am an amateur electronics enthusiast. Recently I've been trying to build my own capacitors, resistors and radio/tv receivers/transmitters from scratch. A thought occurred to me, what would alien technology look like? and would it evolve the same way ours did? Such as: using radio signals along with capacitors, resistors, batteries and so on. It would seem to me they would since they would be following the same laws of electricity, physics and mathematics. And since the only life-forms we know of are on Earth it's safest to think that life would thrive in similar conditions as our own. Water, similar temperatures along with a similar chemical and biological planetary make-up. If those qualities are met do you think that alien technology would evolve similar to our own?

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2014 #2
  4. Dec 9, 2014 #3


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    Gold Member

    There's something about that assumption that has always bothered me, and yet every time that I mention it here, in a serious scientific setting, I get shot down. I am going to mention it again though, because I am nothing if not stubborn. (In fact, I'm seriously thinking about starting my own thread about this and other silliness of assumptions.) Alien life is almost guaranteed to be nothing even vaguely similar to us. Next to us, the most intelligent critters on Earth are cetaceans (whales and dolphins). There is no chance whatsoever that they would ever develop a technological society of the sort needed for interplanetary or interstellar travel (with all due respect to Doug Adams). For one thing, I'm pretty sure that their discovery and mastery of fire would not be immediate. Electricity would probably not be as much of a friend to them as it is to us. Tool use is somewhat limited by the lack of limbs (flippers do not count as limbs in this context). I can easily envision them having a very intellectually advanced, creative and even technological society, but not one that yearns for the stars. They might never develop a desire to fly, because swimming is almost the same and they do that naturally. (Although there could be a Jonathan Livingston Seagull factor that makes them want to swim higher and higher, which could also occur with an avian dominant species, leading to space travel by some route... hmmm...) If some sort of gaseous or energy-based lifeform were to develop, it might very well be from the remnants of a pop3 nova and doesn't have access to more exotic elements that we use for a lot of our tech.
    Anyhow, my basic premise is that life as we know it exists because of our environment, and so does our technology. If a species somehow discovers basic principles of "industrial" science and can extrapolate them in the face of whatever conditions they have to deal with, then they might end up with stuff like ours. Just as likely, I think, is the possibility of them growing biological "machines" through such staple practices as selective breeding, transplantation, gene splicing, etc..
    It's a wide-open area for speculation.
  5. Dec 9, 2014 #4
    given the fact that 1/9 planets in our solar system managed to develop intelligent life (which may or may not be a statistical anomaly) and that the numbers of stars in the OBSERVABLE universe is on the order of billions of billions, and that in all probability each star also has at least a few planets, its almost certain there is intelligent life out there, and that some of those are probably pretty similar to humans.
    However, the fact that we havent been visited(according to mainstream science) probably means that faster than light speed is impossible (sorry wormhole theorists) and we will probably never be able to find intelligent extra terrestrials in our life time.
  6. Dec 9, 2014 #5


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    You might enjoy Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel". He makes a convincing case that technological development has been greatly influenced by fairly random factors: the north-south alignment of the Americas and the east-west alignment of Asia; that sub-Saharan wildlife coevolved with hominids; and many other happenstances.

    These difference between different parts of Earth that Diamond considers are likely small compared with the differences between habitable planets, even after we make the "similar chemical and biological planetary makeup" assumption.
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