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missing a quote about lisp
December 14, 2010 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a quote about Lisp and aliens.

Some time in the last 20 years, probably in the early 90s, I heard some quote that went something like this:
When we finally meet aliens, they will be programming in Lisp. (Or maybe "will have already discovered Lisp"?)
I cannot find this quote anywhere. It's possible it was some professor of mine and doesn't exist in any Lisp lore. It may also have been in dead-tree format and not internetized (yet).
posted by DU to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You know about the alien logo, right?

I don't see a specific alien quote on - I'm guessing if there was a famous quote this page would have it, so I think what you are remembering is some variation of the general aliens-writting-lisp theme, as discussed for example here.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2010

Yeah, the logo has been a big confounder for me.

I'm still kind of wondering where I could have read something like that quora link, which is definitely right in the same ballpark. I thought this morning it could have been Hofstadter (in either GEB or Metamagical Themas) but I couldn't find anything.
posted by DU at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2010

When we finally meet aliens, we'll find them programming is some dialect of LISP!
posted by fozzie33 at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

That sounds *exactly* like the quote I'm looking for. But I'm sure I didn't get it in that forum. "boojum" must be quoting someone.
posted by DU at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2010

Here's another version:

"The reason for this is that Lisp isn't really a language at all. It's more of a mathematical entity. You might say it wasn't invented but discovered. In fact if there is intelligent life in the universe and they have computers I'll bet they have something equivalent to Lisp too."
posted by vacapinta at 12:17 PM on December 14, 2010

I'm more and more certain that JREF user is quoting the same thing I'm remembering. Notice how exactly it matches (although that's probably partly selection bias due to fozzie33 googling my phrasing). But it exists nowhere else on the internet, so I must be right that it's from a dead tree. And not a widely read/remembered/quoted one, or others would be using that phrase.
posted by DU at 4:31 AM on December 15, 2010

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