August 01, 2010

Contact

A difficult movie to make.

And a difficult book to write.

I marvel at the audacious genius of Sagan. Imagine the breadth of someone who was a professional scientist who had specialized in two disciplines — astronomy and biology. No one was a more potent lyrical evangelist for the beauty and compelling nature of the scientific enterprise. And he wrote fiction too!

It's clearly a difficult task to try and decide on what track events might proceed when we make contact with an advanced civilization out there. I hope folks are still at work on SETI. I for one can think of no other scientific endeavor that is more important. SETI is a game changer of a magnitude unlike any other scientific endeavor — except none.

May be, I am 'unrealistic' like the scientist portrayed in the book.

But if I may try to sell my point of view for a moment here, can't anyone imagine the consequences of how marvellous it would be if we discover species that are millions of years advanced than us technologically.

A related thought I have though is this: it's strange to reflect about the 'diversity' among one species, one civilization itself — that is us humans.

Think of all that has taken to make "us." Think of the hundreds of thousands of years of hominid evolution. Then the millions of years of mammalian evolution preceding that. Stretching back perhaps all the way back to the extinction of the dinosaurs. And what a majestic planet it must have been with dinosaurs roaming the Earth for more than 100 million years. And humans have been here for about 0.1 millions years so far?

I imagine what would have been the course of this planet if the dinosaurs had never died. Clearly, there would have been no flowering of all the mammals. I wonder if in that case, dinosaurs would have developed larger brains and become 'intelligent.' I don't know the answer to that question and I wonder if biologists can answer that definitively.

I fancy though that some accident of genetics and evolution might have led some species of dinosaurs to evolve larger frontal lobes and parietal lobes and what not and then they could have taken the path that humans have in recent millenia.

Imagine a world of dinosaurs who have developed science & technology. How fascinating that would be to contemplate! Imagine typical suburban America populated by the 'average' dinosaur dad and mom and their two 'kids.' Two cars in the driveway of course.

Imagine the dinosaur mom preparing dinner for the family in the evening ... what would the dad and mom discuss in the kitchen?

What about romance? Would Paris still be the city of romance?

There would be some dinosaurs who would be vegetarians and others who would be non-vegetarian. Then there would be some dinosaurs like Geetha too who would not mind eating non-vegetarian stuff but would be hesitant to cook it.

Would dinosaurs invent the technology of flying? 500 dinosaurs on an A380???

Would dinosaurs develop religion and political systems? Would there be a Cold War? The specter of nuclear Armageddon?

Would dinosaurs learn to travel into space on space shuttles? And perhaps develop their own SETI too ...

We will need a dinosaurian Carl Sagan of course ... and if there would be religion, we would need a Dawkins of the dinosaurs ...

What about computers and robots? What would the World Wide Web look like on a planet inhabited by seven billion dinosaurs?

Dinosaur blogs anyone?

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