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

The Low Willow (
Thu, 9 Jan 1997 21:58:30 -0800 (PST)

On Jan 9, 12:41pm, Michael Lorrey wrote:

} combinations as carbon does. While silicon life may form in some carbon
} poor regions of the universe (unlikely that such a state could exist,

Magma! Mantles of Earth-mass or greater terrestrial planets. How
they'd get out is interesting, but not insurmountable -- to an HeII
lifeform the idea of us being in space is probably at first ludicrous.

But our technology spans most of the periodic table. I see no reason
why very alien beings would not want palladium and other rare elements
as much as we do. Liquid-Si aliens might have grown up with higher
concentrations of such elements (I'm not sure that's even true) but if
they're expansionist... ores are ores are grounds for wars.

And I suspect there would be a convergence of transhuman and transalien
forms... not to any specific form, but to generalists and polymorphs,
which will increase interaction. Hopefully based on trades rather than

('Would'. My favorite solution to the Fermi paradox is that we're just

} go on at the moment). I beleive that given the separation of continents
} for millions of years is sufficient to derive a decent idea of what sort
} of differentiation we can expect, as each has been a world unto itself

No. Ever read Gould's _Wonderful Life_ or anything else on the Burgess
Shale? The existing phyla are a subset of what animals started out
with, and it's not particularly obvious that the survivors had anything
more going for them than luck. Our own phyla, the Chordata, came from
one proto-thingy with no fossile relatives from that time. Of current
forms, Chordata is the one with greatest absolute and relative
brainpower (but what _is_ the intelligence of an anthill? I'm not
claiming they're sentient or anything, but has anyone really tried
comparing them with vertebrates?) but we obviously have no idea what any
of the extinct forms could have accomplished -- or what extant
non-chordates could have done had vertebrates not been occupying those

} narrower specs to make extrapolations with. We can look at: Humans,
} chimps, gorillas, porpoises and the other cetaceans (any other high
} brain to body mass creatures?). So we can basically look at the

Elephants? Rats? Raccoons?

} occurences. There is not that much environmental pressure to continue to
} use tools or develop more complex ones, as both species tend to have a
} higher eat or be eaten ratio than the early humans did, so are not that

I'm not sure what that sentence means. Arguably apes and cetaceans are
physically much better adapted for their environments, limiting their
immediate need for intelligence, which may be what you were driving at.
"Some trees went away. The best apes stayed in the trees. The second
class apes took to the plains. The third class apes took to the plains
[some say shorelines] but weren't doing so well there either, so learned
how to cheat. When we wipe out gorilla forests, just think of it as a
grudge match."

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"Ah hates crickets...He is as invisible as God but with a MUCH louder
voice." -- JMS