Alien Civilizations I: Prologue

Fitting in with my interest in the future is my interest in extraterrestrial life. Life is a very unique form of matter. It is a self-perpetuating, self-contained chemical system which can adapt and change the environment around it. Yet all we know is a single example. All life on Earth is essentially identical. The chemical make-up and operations of all known living things are very similar. Any cell in your body can “read” the DNA of any other organism. This is because all life on Earth is descended from a single cell, way in the past, shortly after the formation of the Earth itself.

But alien life is completely foreign. It evolved in a completely different environment, using the building blocks it had on hand. It may be so unlike anything seen before on Earth we may not immediately recognize it as being alive.

The most interesting aspect of extraterrestrial life I find is the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, the idea that life elsewhere has evolved another intelligent species completely independently. It is, of course, immediately obvious that such an ability is possible: we are here. Nature very rarely, if ever, produces some phenomenon only once.

Thinking about alien intelligence is very much like thinking about how our species will develop in the future. The only difference (besides the fact that they are alien), is that aliens will very likely have had a multi-billion year head-start. That is, anything I predict human civilization will develop, aliens have likely already done. We just need to find them.

Next Chapter: Time


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