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  1. #16
    No one else has a problem with humans in freezing tubes for long space travel.

    NASA sends robots for numerous reasons.

  2. #17
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Day Myth View Post
    No one else has a problem with humans in freezing tubes for long space travel.

    NASA sends robots for numerous reasons.
    Agreed: Suspended animation without the culture shock or delayed effectiveness of awakening perhaps decades or centuries later.

  3. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    Humans not only have a shared culture based on the world they live on, they have physiological similarities that allow them to make the same sounds with their mouths, hear the same sounds with their ears, see the same thing with their eyes, etc.

    An alien from a completely different planetary environment may not make sounds, because they may not have vocal cords. Maybe they flash colored and pulsed light to communicate. Maybe their ears are only designed to interpret the rhythm of a sound wave, as opposed to the frequency. And maybe they have an organ that sends out and receives olfactory data. Or maybe they communicate by touching. Tentacles. To their partner's sex organs.

    There are too many possibilities for communications to assume aliens will communicate as we do, or that their language will share the cultural similarities that form the basis of our understanding other languages. Assuming an alien species will be anything remotely like us is highly unlikely to impossible.

    And I'll remind that we cannot communicate directly with any animal on this planet (save primates to whom we have taught sign language). If we can't manage that with creatures that share a common planetary culture and comparable sensory organs, how can we hope to do it with aliens?
    Similar patterns of thought in animals arise from similar circumstances. Unless the alien race in question photosynthesizes I see no reason why it should not have a mouth and some form of auditory communication.I can imagine that they might rely on some form of hormone excretion to supplement communication perhaps accompanied by complex body language or verbal communication might involve a series of sounds that the human mouth cannot imitate (at least not very well).That would cause great problems, but if their minds are human enough, then a line of communication can be established. It might not be perfect, but to assume the absolute impossibility of communication with another species is just as ludicrous as believing one could just walk up to one such species and just start chatting with it.

  4. #19
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    It might not be perfect, but to assume the absolute impossibility of communication with another species is ludicrous.
    We can't even adequately share or communicate concepts between different language speakers on this planet, so perhaps it's not so ludicrous after all.

  5. #20
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    An alien from a completely different planetary environment may not make sounds, because they may not have vocal cords. Maybe they flash colored and pulsed light to communicate. Maybe their ears are only designed to interpret the rhythm of a sound wave, as opposed to the frequency. And maybe they have an organ that sends out and receives olfactory data. Or maybe they communicate by touching. Tentacles. To their partner's sex organs.
    Actually Star Trek had an episode that explained why humanoid life forms were so common.

    It had an old archaeology instructor of Picard's ask him to join an expedition. But he was killed by Klingons.

    Rather like these two stories from H. Beam Piper.

    Omnilingual (1957) by H. Beam Piper
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/03/sci...-qomnilingualq
    http://www.feedbooks.com/book/308/omnilingual
    http://librivox.org/omnilingual-by-h-beam-piper/

    Genesis (1951) by H. Beam Piper
    http://manybooks.net/titles/piperh1810518105.html

    psik

  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by ian_sales View Post
    We can't even adequately share or communicate concepts between different language speakers on this planet, so perhaps it's not so ludicrous after all.
    ...And yet we manage to maintain fairly coherent lines of communication and learn languages foreign to the linguistic sphere we were raised in.

  7. #22
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Next time you tell a Brit that you'll be there momentarily, don't be surprised if you don't get the reaction you expect.

  8. #23
    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    Similar patterns of thought in animals arise from similar circumstances. Unless the alien race in question photosynthesizes I see no reason why it should not have a mouth and some form of auditory communication.I can imagine that they might rely on some form of hormone excretion to supplement communication perhaps accompanied by complex body language or verbal communication might involve a series of sounds that the human mouth cannot imitate (at least not very well).That would cause great problems, but if their minds are human enough, then a line of communication can be established. It might not be perfect, but to assume the absolute impossibility of communication with another species is just as ludicrous as believing one could just walk up to one such species and just start chatting with it.
    You seem to be starting from the bottom up, taking simple concepts (we're all made of atoms, let's postulate oxygen is present in the atmosphere of the alien world, etc) and assuming evolution - which is survival-related selection based upon random mutations - will converge alien forms to match our own: to have a head, an even number of limbs, sensory organs on the head, earthly senses.
    Speaking to life sciences professors at your local university will make the impossibility of evolutionary convergence clear (think Star Trek's humanoid species), and the unlikelihood of identical stresses and starting materials resulting in identical adaptations twice quite evident. Eyes have been evolved a hundred times, and all are different and unique, all using different available mechanisms, but eyes have also not been evolved billions of times, with all other non-seeing earthly life.

  9. #24
    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian_sales View Post
    Next time you tell a Brit that you'll be there momentarily, don't be surprised if you don't get the reaction you expect.
    How comes?

  10. #25
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    UK English: momentarily = for a moment
    US English: momentarily = in a moment

    As in the classic story of the two Brits on the US aeroplane (airplane) approaching Chicago, when the captain came over the tannoy to say they'd be landing momentarily and the Brits asked a member of the cabin crew if they'd have time to disembark (deplane).

  11. #26
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    Similar patterns of thought in animals arise from similar circumstances. Unless the alien race in question photosynthesizes I see no reason why it should not have a mouth and some form of auditory communication.
    Not every creature on this planet uses a mouth for auditory communication... the vast majority use mouths exclusively for eating. Vocal cords are not standard equipment on all animals, even on this planet. There's no reason to expect an alien race to have vocal cords, or that they would blow modulated air through an orifice to make sounds.

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Pennarin View Post
    You seem to be starting from the bottom up, taking simple concepts (we're all made of atoms, let's postulate oxygen is present in the atmosphere of the alien world, etc) and assuming evolution - which is survival-related selection based upon random mutations - will converge alien forms to match our own: to have a head, an even number of limbs, sensory organs on the head, earthly senses.
    Speaking to life sciences professors at your local university will make the impossibility of evolutionary convergence clear (think Star Trek's humanoid species), and the unlikelihood of identical stresses and starting materials resulting in identical adaptations twice quite evident. Eyes have been evolved a hundred times, and all are different and unique, all using different available mechanisms, but eyes have also not been evolved billions of times, with all other non-seeing earthly life.
    I never said that they wouldn't have six arms instead of two or organs for purposes we haven't even heard of. If an alien race were to invent tools they would need body parts to manipulate and create them with (assuming we're speaking about sapient life forms). The creation and use of these tools would require the development of accommodating senses (can't think of too many blind people who spend their days putting together complex mechanical devices by touch alone or blind blacksmiths, of course I suppose sonar of some kind could compensate to a point). The development of culture would also require similar thought processes as cultures are based around sapient analysis and reaction to a given environment. It would be here if nowhere else where we would begin to see the greatest similarities between their race and our own though significant differences are to be expected and total comprehension would be more than unlikely unless some power beyond mortal nature were to intervene. Assuming they need to breathe another gas like we need to breathe oxygen (unless they breathe through their skin like worms or some how developed in an aquatic environment which does not necessarily require the use of lungs/lung like structures to develop) they would develop biological mechanisms similar to our lungs to process it.

  13. #28
    Registered User JunkMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    And I'll remind that we cannot communicate directly with any animal on this planet (save primates to whom we have taught sign language). If we can't manage that with creatures that share a common planetary culture and comparable sensory organs, how can we hope to do it with aliens?
    As far as I know no other species on this planet has discovered mathematics. Subsequently we're the only species to have left the planet of our own volition. I would have thought a prerequisite for any any alien species to get off their planet would be the use of mathematics. Maths, as many people have pointed out over the years, would be a damn good starting point for any Human / Alien communication to develop.

  14. #29
    Registered User JunkMonkey's Avatar
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    ...and. Assuming the alien species communicates using sound in the (human) audible range it wouldn't take more than 16 years to have adult (humans) fluent in colloquial Alien and any human language you would care to nominate. The world is well-stocked with children who are bilingual. Even in my village in the Highlands there are children of immigrants who speak one language at home and another at school. All you would have to do is bring up a bunch of kids - alien and human - from babyhood in a shared environment and let our innate capacity for language do its thing. No problem. (If the aliens squeak like bats or rumble like elephants I'm sure some frequency shifting hearing aids could be finagled to bridge the gap).


    Note to self: Shove that idea in the story idea folder. (And don't all rush at once to give me chapter and verse on all the times it's been used before. Let me play.)
    Last edited by JunkMonkey; August 24th, 2012 at 07:07 AM.

  15. #30
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkMonkey View Post
    All you would have to do is bring up a bunch of kids - alien and human - from babyhood in a shared environment and let our innate capacity for language do its thing. No problem. (If the aliens squeak like bats or rumble like elephants I'm sure some frequency shifting hearing aids could be finagled to bridge the gap).


    Note to self: Shove that idea in the story idea folder.
    Er, that's pretty much the set-up in Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue.

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