Nautilus

A Wrinkle in Nature Could Lead to Alien Life

I grew up in a small village in a very rural part of England. It was a landscape capped with the huge skies of a low-lying coastal zone. Gently rolling fields, long hedgerows, and a lot of farms. Some of the people running those farms came from so many generations that they could point to the sites of their forebears’ land-working going back over four centuries. As a child it was fascinating to hear the farmers reflect on the profound changes wrought to that land and their little-concealed wonderment at their ancestors for coping without the accoutrements of the modern world that so many of us benefit from. It seems that, for those long-past generations, the rules of existence were fundamentally different.

Today, we face a similar puzzle when we look out across the cosmos that spawned us to speculate about the nature of alien lineages. Our own planet wasn’t always the way it is today, and a bewildering variety of body plans and biochemical strategies have already arisen and gone extinct. We simply don’t know whether the experimentations of Darwinian evolution on exoplanets and distant galaxies are destined to converge to strategies familiar to us. Either now,

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus8 min readIntelligence (AI) & Semantics
Do You Want AI to Be Conscious?: Consciousness is an important function for us. Why not for our machines?
People often ask me whether human-level artificial intelligence will eventually become conscious. My response is: Do you want it to be conscious? I think it is largely up to us whether our machines will wake up. That may sound presumptuous. The mecha
Nautilus7 min readEnvironmental Science
If Only 19th-Century America Had Listened to a Woman Scientist: Where might the US be if it heeded her discovery of global warming’s source?
Human-induced climate change may seem a purely modern phenomenon. Even in ancient Greece, however, people understood that human activities can change climate. Later the early United States was a lab for observing this as its settlers altered nature.
Nautilus5 min readTechnology & Engineering
My 3 Greatest Revelations: The author on writing his new book, “The Ascent of Information.”
1  The “Dataome” Is Huge The dataome is shorthand to describe all of the externalized information we generate in symbolic representations: drawings, music, books, computing, data storage. It’s all of the information we utilize and propagate, along wi