Seeking info about theories on extraterrestrial evolution and life forms
April 2, 2014 10:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for academic papers (but also stories, movies, news articles, or anything else!) that talk about this: most of the ideas we come up with about alien life involves those aliens being carbon-based lifeforms with eyes of some sort and internal organs and appendages. But where are the other, more wild (and probably likely) ideas?

Organisms that have senses we can't imagine or that are built of something other than cells? How would this affect their planet and its other species? I've never run across anything with this sort of premise and I would very much like to. Thank you!
posted by reductiondesign to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

A story: Three Worlds Collide
posted by katrielalex at 1:38 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Very generally in terms of stories, Iain M Banks had some fairly mind-bending ideas about the forms sentience could take in his universe, clouds, bushes and nerve-chain thingies chasing through microscoping faults in ice... Maybe start with Matter, Excession, Surface Detail.

(also a throw-away line from Douglas Adams about "a hyper-intelligent shade of the colour blue" comes to mind)
posted by runincircles at 1:50 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

The hard science fiction novel Dragon's Egg and its sequel Starquake by Robert L. Forward might be of interest to you.
posted by Chairboy at 3:07 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Carl Sagan wrote a paper about possible ecologies on Jupiter. Here's another link on Life on Jupiter.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:35 AM on April 3, 2014

xenobiology or astrobiology, is what I've heard it referenced as. Silicon based life forms etc.

a random youtube video

a journal article

a google scholar search
posted by crawltopslow at 5:54 AM on April 3, 2014

The Journal of Cosmology publishes a lot of this kind of speculation and is (or claims to be) an open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. However, most in the field seem to regard it as pretty fringe stuff, very much biased in favour of the panspermia thesis. Could be worth a look, though, if you're willing to take everything with a giant pinch of salt.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:47 AM on April 3, 2014

I take it you're already familiar with the usual places, like: This paper is of course a classic in the field, and one of my personal favorites:
A search for life on Earth from the Galileo spacecraft
(Sagan et al. 1993, Nature, 365, 715-721).

If you're not familiar with the field, it's a very good read. (Link to Nature, and the first result link on this search returns a PDF version.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:28 AM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

BTW, Astrobiology has free access through April 13. Registration is required, but they haven't sent me any spam.
posted by lukemeister at 3:25 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Olaf Stapledon wrote two novels that explored these issues. Both are available online: Last and First Men and Star Maker. The latter offers the intriguing idea that stars are themselves sentient and highly intelligent beings.
posted by megatherium at 4:47 PM on April 3, 2014

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