Are Dolphins More Intelligent than Humans?

Dolphins

Years ago when I was in the Navy, whenever we pulled out of port I’d watch dolphins glide along in front of our ship jumping out of the water in spectacular fashion. Their sheer power and beauty are difficult to describe unless you’ve witnessed them first-hand. As I’d watch them swim along in such a graceful manner, I’d find myself wondering what they thought of our ship and if they were self-aware or could communicate with one another. At the time I knew little about dolphins (I’m still learning today) but I couldn’t help thinking to myself that these beautiful creatures are probably much more intelligent than we are. Read More →

Astrobiologists Not Expecting to Find ‘Gray Aliens’

The most enduring symbol of extraterrestrial life has to be the gray alien. With a vaguely humanoid body and strangely elongated features, grays are just human enough to be unnerving to most individuals and have, for the most part, replaced the idea of little green men from Mars. Some people feel that this depiction of life is ridiculous and might even disprove various close encounters.

Skeptics see parallels in science fiction stories dating back to the 19th century. A Swedish novel from 1933 describes a race of extraterrestrials that are very similar to the ever-popular grays. Others claim that portrayals of alien life being similar to humanity are a sign of arrogance. Evolution, according to these skeptics, doesn’t necessarily have to take place in the same way that it has on Earth.

Admittedly, the idea of grays seems pretty far-fetched. Legitimate scientists have taken steps to distance themselves from such portrayals of extraterrestrial races. However, that doesn’t mean that the idea itself is bad. While most descriptions of such life forms are taken from the pages of hoaxes, that doesn’t mean that extraterrestrial creatures wouldn’t necessarily resemble anything on Earth.

Image Credit: San Diego State University

Indeed, Occam’s razor would seem to support this concept. No one should necessarily throw the baby out with the bath water. In fact, there is some scientific evidence for this sort of thinking. Humans are the only understood higher species. Saying that extraterrestrial civilizations would physically resemble human ones takes few assumptions.

Regardless of what theory one subscribes to, it’s easy to see that there is a huge rift between legitimate astrobiological research and what detractors deem UFOlogy. Unfortunately, the latter sometimes gives the former a bad name and may involve events that could be explained away as sleep paralysis or outright dishonesty. While so-called ufologists generally focus on finding gray aliens and UFO’s, astrobiologists generally take a different route by studying the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe (here on Earth and beyond). In other words, the two fields are worlds apart (pun intended). More to the point, astrobiologists are only interested in researching things that can actually be studied. This often involves the study of lifeforms that are microscopic in size – a far cry from a gray alien. If we ever do have a bonafide gray alien, I’m certain astrobiologists might want to study it as well. Until that happens however, I think most astrobiologists will remain skeptical regarding the existence of gray aliens.

Regardless of what you believe, this leaves an interesting question unanswered by astrobiologists. If intelligent life were discovered, how would sketchy portrayals of aliens on Earth influence the psyche of those who came into contact with them for real? Only exploration and continued research will yield the answer.

What are your thoughts on gray aliens, astrobiology, etc.?

Are Invisible Extraterrestrials Out There?

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Films

I recently watched The Darkest Hour, a film about invisible aliens that invade and terrorize Earth. While the movie itself leaves much to be desired, the concept of invisible aliens is one that I find noteworthy. As we search for alien lifeforms, could we be missing them due to their invisibility?

While invisibility has been a frequent theme in science fiction, often presented with a feeling of artificiality, nature has actually perfected it a number of times. The Darkest Hour reminded me that  “invisible” animals, those that are comprised to a large degree of Read More →

Intelligent Life in the Universe

Source: antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov

We cannot completely discount the possibility that alien life will look or act like us, not least of all given the statistical probabilities. The laws of natural selection alone may no longer govern humans; however, whilst cloning and gene manipulation may allow human enhancement and the curing of disease, we are still constrained by the physiological limitations hard-coded into our genes. Other carbon-based life forms might utilize the same chemical structures (DNA or even RNA) as information carriers, especially with these molecules found in abundance throughout the interstellar medium. On the other hand they may be completely different. Extrapolate to the practical applications of, say, superstring physics (if it’s right) and maybe they can put their intelligence into non-biological forms. Arthur C. Clarke said that what they could do would be like magic to us. Read More →