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What if we are alone in the galaxy?
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What if we are alone in the galaxy?:

"There are two possibilities: either we are alone, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying." ~Arthur C. Clarke

"And because, in all the galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere." ~Clarke again.

What if in the next few decades, thanks to Kepler showing SETI where to point the antennae, we will discover that we are, in fact, the only radio-using intelligence within six hundred light-years? What does it mean for humanity if we are the first species in our galaxy to reach the level of radio? Are we obligated, then, to go on and become Precursors to the less-developed cultures out there? Should we thus put more emphasis on preserving life on Earth, if it is so rare and precious? Should we encourage the dawning of mind everywhere and uplift other suitable species?

Figured might make for an interesting bit of philosophical speculation. Personally I feel that if we are alone, its an awesome responsibility for us to see Earth's biosphere expand to other planets, and we should start with Terraforming Mars right away.

edited 8th Dec '11 9:52:13 PM by MyGodItsFullofStars

 
 2 Polarstern, Thu, 8th Dec '11 10:41:29 PM from United States
I worry that if we aren't alone, we would do to the alien culture, if they happen to be weaker than us, what we have done to our own minorities and still do.

I feel we, who are effectively killing our own planet are not the best judges over how the rest of the universe should go.

I heard a phrase somewhere that said the only sign of intelligent life out there was that it didn't bother to come here.

I hope we are alone just so that we can contain ourselves a bit better and hopefully improve our situations instead of keep making things worse.

If we are alone then we'll take it. All of it. The only thing that is consistent amongst all Life is that it spreads. So we will spread. Not because we should, we just will. ( maybe not us. maybe it'll be the next lifeform to come along that does attain the ability... evolution has about 5 more billion years to get it right after all.)

edited 8th Dec '11 10:54:26 PM by GreatLich

 4 Balmung, Thu, 8th Dec '11 11:13:57 PM from Omaha, Nebraska Relationship Status: GAR for Archer
Cosmic Star Troper
If nobody's nearby? Time to set up our own space empire thingie and make sure we're ready when aliens do show up, which our fiction tells us, can only end in WAR. If somebody is? I dunno, start the United Federation of Planets?
 5 Tzetze, Thu, 8th Dec '11 11:17:25 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
Then we've got lots of space. Dibs on GJ 1214.
It's humanity's divine right to spread their culture to the less fortunate species throughout the galaxy.

> Are we obligated, then, to go on and become Precursors to the less-developed cultures out there? Should we thus put more emphasis on preserving life on Earth, if it is so rare and precious? Should we encourage the dawning of mind everywhere and uplift other suitable species?

Yes Yes All of it, if we are the only one or the first one, its our responsibility to nurture less developed life, to spread life where they are none, to terraform barren world to Eden. Gift of Life and Intelligence is too big for single planet, its must be shared to the whole galaxy.

I don't think it's a stretch to say we're not alone. But hell, I'm skeptical about humanity spreading to other parts of the solar system within the next milennium. The idea of going further out is for people who don't understand the numbers involved.

We may not be alone, but we might as well be either way.

edited 9th Dec '11 12:02:44 AM by INUH

Cmdr. of His Supremacy's Armed Forces
Plus, we're humanity, to quote that famous quote: "We put poison into the water and air to weed out the weak, we drop fission bombs in our only biosphere and WE NAILED OUR GOD TO A STICK!"

So yes, we can go around uplifting if the fancy takes us, we're the most advanced in the galaxy if you're theory's true and so we do whatever the hell we want.
 10 Tzetze, Fri, 9th Dec '11 12:35:31 AM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
It's humanity's divine right to spread their culture to the less fortunate species throughout the galaxy.

The premise is that there are no such species.
One thing I'd say, though, is that if we aren't alone in the universe, and in the extremely unlikely event that we ever even get the faintest trace of evidence that we aren't* , I really hope whatever else is out there is more advanced than we are. Humans do not need more of an entitlement complex.

edited 9th Dec '11 12:44:25 AM by INUH

Hopefully, whatever aliens that could be skulking about the universe aren't even fouler bitches than we are.

edited 9th Dec '11 12:52:13 AM by DisasterGrind

 
[up][up][up]Really? Because I read the thread as it being about us being the only species to reach a certain technological threshold.

(rewritten to be less redundant)

edited 9th Dec '11 1:13:03 AM by MrDolomite

Forest Spirit
If we are alone, truly alone in the universe, and there is no other life to speak of, then I will be very sad. No intelligent lifeforms to share knowledge and understanding with, no cool Starfish Aliens, no Green Skinned Space Babes, no Romulan Ale. Just us, rocks, burning gas, and an awful waste of Space.

And then I'll get over it. Hey, no Bug War! No Eldritch Abominations! No space plagues or face-huggers! No Proud Warrior Race with energy weapons that make h-bombs look like water baloons!

And look at all that free space! And no worries about trespassing on somebody else's property. Just us, and the infinite frontier, and no one to stop us from taking what we want, and settling where we will. If we can get off this Earth before we boil the seas, we can terraform a million new Earths for our descendants. In time, they won't even miss it. Long Live the Empire of Humanity!

So we can't have Star Trek. We can still have Firefly.

edited 9th Dec '11 1:18:37 AM by Carbonek13

Why do I only think to lie after I have told a terrible truth?
 15 Heavy DDR, Fri, 9th Dec '11 1:17:09 AM from Central Texas
What's Gravity Falls.
On the contrary, I think humans need less things to be cynical about, so finding a race that isn't as advanced as us would really be a nice picker-upper.
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
 16 Hellman Sabian, Fri, 9th Dec '11 2:12:19 AM from The United Kingdom Relationship Status: Maxing my social links
Pulling that Devil Trigger
If we were alone in the galaxy, I would pretty much be apathetic.
"Some are born speedy, some achieve speediness and some have speediness thrust upon them." - William Shakespeare (Sort Of)
 17 Milos Stefanovic, Fri, 9th Dec '11 2:19:15 AM from White City, Ruritania
Decemberist
If we are the only sapient lifeform in the galaxy, and planets similar enough to Earth in order for humans to live on them exist, it would be a great opportunity to colonize them, since the Earth is already too overcrowded.

And nurturing a less-developed race to sapience... no. Just no. Humanity needs no contenders.

edited 9th Dec '11 3:44:38 AM by MilosStefanovic

The sin of silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Is that cake frosting?
If we are alone in the galaxy, and if space colonization becomes a thing, then we won't be alone for long.

With that much room to colonize, and with the technological means that a human civilization capable of FTL travel would probably have achieved, I'd expect massive scale speciation to ensue very, very rapidly.

edited 9th Dec '11 2:20:02 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 19 USAF713, Fri, 9th Dec '11 3:43:15 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
The law of averages makes it ridiculous to say that we are alone, but it is quite likely that anybody else is absurdly far away and thus irrelevant.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 20 The Earth Sheep, Fri, 9th Dec '11 3:27:07 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
If there is life out there, it is our God-given imperative, our Hu-Man's Burden, if you will, to rape, destroy, and subjugate every culture we discover.
Still Sheepin'
 21 Mandemo, Fri, 9th Dec '11 3:33:54 PM from Cookie Jar Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
GIMME COOKIES!
[up]Then start posing as gods abd when start out own little civil war we uplift those races to fight for us, then they do slave rebellion reducing Imperium of Man into tiny remnantn, that will rise again under command og God Emperor.
[up][up] Ultimately all that uppity desert war-god turns out to be good for then: "validating" our war-like tendencies.

If we're alone in the galaxy, I would be incredibly surprised.

But given how far apar things in space are, and how we're the only creatures within our own solar system to have gotten off the planet at all (and barely, even), I doubt we'll ever run into anything we could call a civilization.

edited 9th Dec '11 4:55:00 PM by RTaco

What if in the next few decades, thanks to Kepler showing SETI where to point the antennae, we will discover that we are, in fact, the only radio-using intelligence within six hundred light-years?

Since that's what most people are already expecting, nothing will change if that is indeed the case.

What does it mean for humanity if we are the first species in our galaxy to reach the level of radio?

It either means that we are, in fact, alone in the galaxy, or that we are not alone, and are simply the most advanced form of life in the galaxy (in which case, humanity, fuck yeah!). It may also imply that our level of intelligence, coupled with the physical form to take full advantage of it, is incredibly rare, something which our own planet's history would seem to support (after all, in the 4 billion years of Earth's existence, we and our extinct bretheren seem to be the only species that fit those two criteria). Not so rare that a repeat would be impossible, or even unlikely given the size of the universe, but not so common that it should be easy to find.

Are we obligated, then, to go on and become Precursors to the less-developed cultures out there? Should we thus put more emphasis on preserving life on Earth, if it is so rare and precious? Should we encourage the dawning of mind everywhere and uplift other suitable species?

Yes, yes, and maybe. Were we to disperse throughout the galaxy (impossible given today's science and technology, but perhaps some unknown principle will allow FTL travel in the future) at some point in time, and were we to colonize suitable planets, and were we to find intelligent species that we could initiate meaningful communication with, some cultural and technological transfer would be inevitable. Natural curiosity dictates that we would want to learn as much as we could about these creatures, and the creatures would probably, in turn, want to learn as much as possible about us, especially since we would have all this super-advanced technology that would seem almost magical to a primitive species (in fact, it might even seem almost magical to us right now). Preservation of Earthly life is a given, uplifting species is not; if we uplift them, we'd need to be able to ensure that they will not, one day, become a threat to the human race.

Personally I feel that if we are alone, its an awesome responsibility for us to see Earth's biosphere expand to other planets, and we should start with Terraforming Mars right away.

I fully agree; this would, in fact, be the greatest undertaking in human history. Whether it's practical, at the moment, is a different question.

edited 9th Dec '11 5:51:17 PM by tropetown

 25 Excelion, Fri, 9th Dec '11 5:50:16 PM from The Fatherland
and we should start with Terraforming Mars right away.

AND THEN I'LL HAVE MY OWN NEO VENEZIA!
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