What is Intelligent Life?

I remember reading an article in the Guardian last year with title "Our galaxy may contain billions of planets with the same mass as Earth". Surely, it is valid scientific guess as it is but if it is really true, my first thought would be that intelligent life as we know it (assuming we are intelligent species) is as rare as we can imagine. If they are not, the big question is why we are still not able to detect any single proof of their existence or still not eaten by some violent alien species? The only logical answer that we are first one walks on the edge of impossibility to me. Most likely we are missing something important, a discovery as important as fire was.

While this statement is still accurate and generally speaking true, it still doesn't contain any valid information, at least nothing scientific, so I will try to analyze it little more, the best I can with help of smart people publishing on the net.

So to start with the original statement, is there really that many planets with Earth like properties in our galaxy? Ever since I read the Drake equation for the first time (shown above), I couldn't get rid of the feeling that nothing spectacular I could conclude from it. Come on, really, this is just another scientific speculation at best, as we simply don't have any valuable information about star systems other than our own. Not until recent year we didn't have any observations of local star cluster related to potential planets. The only scientific data coming in this regard is the one from Kepler mission and after two and a half years it still didn't find a single hint of the Earth like planet. Yes, this is just the beginning and Kepler spacecraft only searches for changes in brightness of the nearby stars looking for planets, but still there is nothing so far. Just giant Jupiter-size or super massive rocky planets. I wanted to sound optimistically, but I would expect at least one stable candidate in this 2,5 years of Kepler's. Maybe it is there in scientific data still waiting to be revealed or maybe those giant planets harbor Pandora's like satellite? Or nothing's there? Future will tell.

Next, there is a common interpretation that life supportive planets exist in large numbers, but intelligent life is rare or we are by some rare possibility the first one. As this sounds plausible on the first glance, it is not. We simply have this one time experience with Earth where one singe cell needed almost one billion years to evolve, and almost three billions for first multicellular creatures to arrive, not to mention that first plant evolved only half a billion years ago. So, a life supporting planet or satellite requires many billions of years of evolution not many times interrupted with cataclysmic events. If we take this for granted then it seems that complex life, as we are, needs small amount of time, astronomically speaking, comparing to less-complex ones like trees or grass. Therefore, again astronomically speaking, if we find greenish environment on some planet, the chances to find intelligent life on that planet in some sort of existence statistically are pretty big.

Ok, what's next? Oh yes, intelligent life.. Is this what we are? Are this Hawking famous sayings right: "Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth". If you ask me it is only half right, I'd say if primitive life is common then complex life could be common as well, but the second statement is pretty much accurate. I don't want to sound pathetically or semi-scientifically or too philosophically here, but there is simple fact that what differs humans from animals is that big rational brain of ours. On the other end, what is pretty much similar to the animal life is that still hyper active emotional or reptilian part of our inner head. I am not sure what next centuries will bring to us, but it will be either further development of rational brain in expense of emotional one, or the vice versa.

I am not saying that we must completely suppress emotions like Vulcans or try to augment people to reach this goal, but I am 100% sure that all human misbehavior today, like wars, global crisis, hunger there and overfilled bellies here, cultural or religion based animosity between people, relatives or neighbors is simply caused by reptilian complex deeply hidden in the center of human brain. Of course, I really can't imagine living a life without emotions at all but simply put, this part of human beings should not be in charge over ration. It's proven too dangerous for so many times.

So, in the nutshell, as soon as this part of the brain evolve down under the border of no return, I guess we should not call ourselves intelligent species. Until then, it is unwise from some interstellar species to give us technology to leave the Earth - chances that we would use it for star wars are bigger than we would go the next level and use it for peaceful exploration of solar system and beyond.

The last and probably the most important from my original statement last year was the hint that we were missing something important, like fire-like breakthrough discovery. Is this what we are missing, some space technology or warp drive? Now it seems that it is definitively something that will help rational brain become the real boss in our heads, only then we could step further and say that intelligent life finally emerged on Earth.

Is this possible?

Sure, if we are spared by some major cataclysmic event within next couple of centuries or if we don't create one ourselves. I have all my hopes in evolutionary process but also little doubts as well. But, when the day is bright and cheerful, I also have all my hopes that tomorrow humanity will overpass this current stage of evolution and head for something more.

Image credits:

Search for habitable planets:


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