Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Would their knowledge match up with ours?

  1. Mar 4, 2010 #1

    One topic I would like to discuss here is the comparison of our understanding and knowledge of the cosmos, matter, energy, evolution and the existence in general WITH that of the other "civilizations" if they exist elsewhere in the cosmos.

    I am just curious...if someday we visited "other civilizations" or they visited us and let's say we could somehow manage to communicate and debate with them in a common language like English. Would their knowledge of the cosmos and existence be in line with ours? Would their chemistry, physics, mathematics, cosmology, biology, engineering... textbooks match up with that of ours? What if our theories totally contradicted theirs and vice versa? Which evidence is to be trusted, theirs, ours, both, or none????
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Their measurements have to line up with ours (although more accurate)
    Their theories might be better - but they still have to explain all our results, they might also be able to explain results we can't yet.
  4. Mar 4, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Let's call this hypothetical civilization "Alabama".
  5. Mar 6, 2010 #4
    I resent that!!

    Come on, at least we have a tokamak.
  6. Mar 6, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Is it up on bricks in the front yard?
  7. Mar 6, 2010 #6
    No, but even people in expensive houses still park the truck on the lawn sometimes.
  8. Mar 13, 2010 #7
    If we visited a civilization in the near future of similar advancement then I would think that all our textbooks would match up very similarly.

    I also think it is very likely that if it was an earth like planet then they probably would be fairly similar to us since they would have experienced the same evolutionary pressures.

    On the other hand, If another space-faring civilization visited us then the probability is that they would be immensely more advanced and probably very different from us, so different that I doubt they would have much interest in making contact in the first place.
  9. Mar 13, 2010 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I've always wondered about the math part. It's reasonable to assume that they would have invented negative numbers, complex numbers, calculus, and the like because they're crucial for physics, but what about quaternions, matricies, and the like? It's possible that alien civilizations use alternative abstract constructions that are just as useful, maybe even more useful, to express the same laws of physics. In that case, their math would look nothing like ours.
  10. Jul 1, 2010 #9
    I think that's a given. [STRIKE]Almost[/STRIKE] every physical phenomenon has alternative formulations and derivations. Often enough we find ourselves a massive shortcut that completely revolutionises our thinking. Copernicus for a start.

    Could a culture develop space travel but not have worked out Relativity - unlikely - but possible.
    Might have hit on a ridiculously easy way of harnessing fusion power or even zero point energy - possibly before they invented the wheel.

    What was that race in HHGG that had so many arms they invented the aerosol before they discovered fire?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook