Re: MISC: Exobiology, Brain Storage Capacity, & Ralph Merkle

Chris Hind (
Thu, 09 Jan 1997 23:57:33 -0800

>Many Pacific islands are useful in that they demonstrate both the
>potential and the limits of flying creatures to fill evolutionary niches
>free of other animals. Given a lack of competition from apes or other
>intelligent creatures, birds were not able to develop any decent levels
>of intelligence, mainly due to the limits of the mass fraction. The
>weight restrictions of flight make large brains an evolutionary

Ahh but what if the planet had less mass and thus less gravity to allow
birds to acquire larger brains? You could easily come out with an
earth-like planet where flying is more popular than walking.

>There is also another interesting datum: brain case to cervical cavity
>ratio. Find animals that have large cervical cavities, or find the
>environmental pressures that lead to the development of such large
>cavities, and you can develop an idea of what sort of creatures are
>capable of givng birth to big brained offspring. Even for ourselves, we
>need the fetus to have a brain case that is not fully developed yet in
>order to give birth, so it can squeeze through.

Does this mean that as we continue to evolve there will be far more
premature born babies because with technology we can allow them to survive
so the skull size can be larger? Eventually we will require technology to
survive as a species if we don't alter our genes or upload.

>We may even develop some sort of
>symbiosis if our waste products are their resources and vice versa. Take
>the H2S/H2O issue. Or take our relationship to plants.

Wow. Talk about convergence of two entirely different streams of evolution.

>As we see with cetaceans with their incredible
>auditory processing, able to 3d image an entire ocean in a few chirps,
>they may have high brain to body mass ratios, but much of that brain
>mass is wasted on signal processing.

Could it be possible somehow to retrieve these maps and find valuable data
on the changing structure of the ocean floor someday?

>A true alien might not fit our detectors, and look so utterly different
>that we will not immediately have a reaction. Imagine something that
>looks like a glittering cloud with fractal shells - it is too weird
>to mean anything to us. Of course, evolution might converge; if they
>evolved on a planet it would be quite possible that they too have
>articulated legs, for example. But we do not know if most aliens are from
>planets... maybe most are eganesque polysaccharide carpets or vortex

Ahh but the one fear we know that will occur at the minimum is fear of the
unknown, just as native american indians were afraid of the european's
horses. I'm wondering if we will have the same response to an alien
species. I wonder if we will find them disfigured if they are somewhat like
us and our detectors pickup on a few bodily structures. It's funny how we
are both curious and afraid of the unknown.

"The signs of a species preparing to mutate to a higher stage of
intelligence." -Timothy Leary (1979)

Chris Hind ( Upward, Outward, ACTION!
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