“Sentient Others”


Earlier today, I was thinking I might take a short break from writing posts. The election and all that goes with it has somewhat died down and, for now anyway, it is what it is. Come mid to late 2023, as issues and candidates start making noise for 2024 positions and decisions, the rat race will begin again. But for now, things are returning to “normal” and it seemed like a good time to just sit back and relax.

But then I came across a comment on another blog from someone who made the postulation that life, as we know it, is settled. In response, a blog visitor speculated with the following :

until we find sentient others in this universe.

Hmmm. Sentient others in this universe.

Possible? Probable? Visionary?

What do YOU think/believe? Do you contend –or doubt– that there are actual, substantive, and/or plausible chances of us earthly humans finding “sentient others” in this universe?

Now think on this a bit. The universe is a VERY big place … and our actual knowledge of what it contains could probably fit on the head of a pin. Nevertheless, there are those who believe we WILL one day find that sentient beings exist in the Great Unknown.

Are you one of them?

Or not.

82 thoughts on ““Sentient Others”

  1. Well, we might discover evidence of their existence, but as things are now, the odds are that those “others” are too far away to even communicate with let alone interact with.

    I would love to see the theological rats scurrying were we to find evidence of sentient life on other planets. Would be great fun. If they should come a visiting, though, we should be concerned. The less technologically advanced species always suffers the worst in such encounters.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. I am not convinced that “we” WILL find other sentient beings in the universe but I like to find it likely. Why would our earth be the only place? Different organisms can exist in (very) different environments.
    No idea how to visualize that, or those, worlds but that is due to my lack of imagination – today.

    Liked by 3 people

    • that used to be my (amateur, uneducated) position. But even if one is not a creationist, the chance occurrences needed for life are so amazingly rare, I bet. But as of yet…we don’t know🤪

      Liked by 3 people

      • We don’t know how often life has started and failed here on earth. What we do know is that everything needed to build the stars and planets came from ‘outer space’ and was/is available to the whole universe.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Do I think there are other sentient beings in the universe? Given how unimaginably huge the universe is, I think the probability is close to certain that there are.

    Are there any of them within a close enough range that we will be able to detect them within our lifetimes? The fraction of the universe we can investigate to that level of detail is incredibly tiny. Given how long it took earth to develop a sentient species, and how small a fraction of our our species’ existence we have had the technology to communicate, and how close we keep coming to killing ourselves off, I’d put a very low probability on happening to find another sentient species at just the right point in their development. It’s much more likely that another life-bearing planet within our small detection range will have just bacterial life, or if we are very lucky something multicellular.

    Unless the light-speed barrier isn’t really a barrier, and FTL ships are possible. Then I hope the other sentient life-forms are out there watching us from a safe distance, waiting to see if we will grow up before we destroy ourselves.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Well, I say, we already have proof of sentient life other than us. The lizard skinned aliens who make up the Democratic party and feast on the blood of infant Republicans in pizza parlor basements across the country surely are the living embodiment of such evidence, are they not?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I agree with all the comments, especially the lizard aliens. Ha!
    I do feel there has been, or is, or will be other sentient life out there for as long as this universe lasts or any universe for that matter. I think life is an intregal part of the existence of anything..

    Having said that, I think the vast distances and the vast time frames from past to future that may include infinite time and space and the length of any life forms life, personally, as well as their entire species, will make it virtually impossible to ever know.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Nan, I’m glad you chose to not pass this up.

    I have some news feeds that bring me reports on the JWST. This morning I was looking at some pictures and wondering how people can look at that image and think we are alone. I wonder how religions still function in the face of scientific fact. I can’t imagine anyone looking into the cosmos and thinking it could be the handiwork of one or a thousand gods.

    When mankind first began to wonder about their existence, to create languages and gods, their knowledge was far more infantile than ours today. They could only give them the best attributes of man as they knew it and whatever their imagination could conjure up. Different religions had their own creation story and various gods for their many concerns.

    13.876 billion years, +/- .o20 million years in the making, at the least, and all the galaxies and stars began developing by the same dynamics and at the same time. Roughly speaking, of course, the only way I can speak of it. I cannot comprehend such descriptions of time. There is a formula for measuring the number of planets in a galaxy using the assumption that every star has at least one planet. Every galaxy has 100 to 200 billion stars and 2 trillion galaxies estimated in the universe. (My TI calculator just exploded.) Anyone thinking we are alone, as intelligent life, belongs to a time before we split off from the bonobos.

    Sentient others.

    Niel DeGrasse Tyson once quipped, “If an alien flies a spaceship all the way across the galaxy, arrives at earth and cannot land, I don’t want to meet the damn alien, Alright?”

    I think there is a reasonable answer to that. we have seen those instant-read thermometers that you point at an object to take its temperature. Those aliens have developed a sensor for intelligent and/or sentient life forms. They circle the globe, aiming it at us, and finding none, they move on.

    If they made contact with us, we would either worship them or kill them. It’s hard to tell since we are so shallow in understanding and appreciating life’s diversity. I’m afraid our definition of sentient life forms is way too narrow. We don’t recognize some of it in our own society.

    “In the Universe it may be that primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth.” – Stephen W. Hawking

    The earth is 4.5 billion years old. The age of man (Homo) has been pushed back to 315,000 years old. We are still digging. My romantic brain, building on that longevity, believes that we will continue to evolve until, eventually, we can leave our solar system under our own power. Find that sentient other. It’s out there.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Your “romantic brain” is, in my personal estimation, just that. There was a time when I harbored such thoughts, but as I’ve progressed through time and life, more and more I doubt humans will ever make the leap. Simply because they will have destroyed this planet and thus, themselves.

      Nevertheless, until then, shall we not allow ourselves to be sustained by hopes and dreams?

      Liked by 4 people

      • “Your “romantic brain” is, in my personal estimation, just that.”

        Of course, it is. That is why I identified it that way. All those bones the paleoanthropologists are digging up are extinct, after all. There are more extinct species than extant ones.

        “…and our actual knowledge of what it contains could probably fit on the head of a pin.”
        What the universe could contain. It is beyond our capacity to measure. Today.
        A good comparison, I think. And I think of how our technology grows at such a fantastic rate, and I see the oncoming generations discarding the things that impede progress, such as religion, racial and other prejudices, women with leading roles in society, nonbinary individuals contributing to societal progress, denying religious and political discrimination to control their lives. The Audacity of Hope. (BHO)

        Okay. I’m out of similies. If we can achieve all these things in society, maybe at least we can finally reach democracy. It may not get me out of this solar system, but it will fulfill many dreams and lay the groundwork for a better future for all.

        Oh Snap!!! Did nobody bring cannabis seed?
        Proxima Centauri is 4.22 LY away. It has planets. (Livable?) Twenty-six trillion miles or so. Our next nearest star. Multi-generational trip at our present best travel speeds. A pipe dream for sure.

        I don’t think you are a killjoy, stealing my dreams. I think you are a realist requiring that dreams have substance. That hope is anchored to reality. That reality is within the scope of human achievement. That human achievement is not hindered by artificial constraints of bigotry and ignorance.

        Liked by 2 people

        • But it is hindered by ignorance, bigotry and religion and I feel that is the very nature of this particular species..us..but maybe not so entrenched elsewhere out there, hopefully. We DO have the ability if the time it would take could become a reality here, but…with climate change and constant wars and the very nature of man, I don’t see it ever being fulfilled.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Yes a many scientists believe that most civilizations destroy themselves before they ever reach that pinnacle. I use to love Star Trek Next Generation and felt maybe someday we’d be like that, but now I have very serious doubts. I just don’t think it’s meant to be, but there could be a few out there and probably are, just not us.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hello Mary. Don’t despair the world of Star Trek being out of our reach due to killing ourselves off. The Star Trek canon has it that they nearly killed themselves off a couple times and even had a few nasty wars, one the wars spawned by Kwan, the Eugenic wars. So there is hope for us even yet to make it to that world we envision and wish to live in. We just have to create it, strive for it, make it real for everyone. Hugs

          Liked by 2 people

  7. I just don’t even care … got enough to think about right here on Planet Earth with the species we have here, particularly the human one. If there are other life forms somewhere out there, I would only advise them not to go near that toxic planet called Earth!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. “Are you one of them?” Do you mean:

        1.  Are you someone who believes there are sentient others out there?
        2. Are you someone who believes that we will meet sentient others someday?
        3. Are you one of the sentient others?

    I’ll answer each possibility:

        1.  Yes, I believe there are sentient others out there. The Universe is a big place and we're
              finding new exo-planets all the time. We're finding that life is much more resilient 
              than we once believed. Panspermia is not only possible. I think it's likely. Perhaps 
             even we didn't  originate here. 
        2.  Perhaps we've already met them, but don't remember or failed to recognize them.
              They may come to meet us before we have the ability to visit them. They could be 
              watching and waiting for us to become sentient beings.
       3.  I don't think I'm a sentient other from out there, but I can't be certain. I'm not 
            certain of my own sentience nor can I be certain of my origin. (I only know what I 
           was told. I don't remember being born.)  For that matter, certainty is a function of
           faith. Science is a matter of extreme probability. I have faith in some things, but 
           this response is a function of the scientific method. (Of course. my application of
          the scientific method implies that I have faith in that approach,)

    Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I wondered what was going on. Never came across anything like this before and thought it was a glitch in my WP system. I would “fix it” but I’m not familiar with some of the coding and I would hate to lose the comment in the process!


        • It’s just straight typing with carriage returns and lead spaces. I would have edited it myself, but could find no such option. I was trying to create an enumerated list with the proper hanging indent. It looked fine when I typed it, but the margins and the font changed on the post. 😡

          Next time, I’ll just let the items wrap. I could re-enter it, but I still wouldn’t know how to delete the messy original. 😢

          If you know a way to edit comments in WordPress, let me know.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I think the blog owner is the only one that can edit comments. It’s a feature that would sure be nice for WP to add, but they’re more fixated (like so many others) on how to make $$$$.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Shit happens.

    You use all the grammatical help you have and hit all the double ‘enter’ so you are sure of a line break at the right place and then you hit ‘Post Comment’ and Bam! You wish there was an edit button, but hell no.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was a wee child and I would dearly love to meet a being from another world and shake his/her/its hand/tentacle/pseudopod/appendage. But it ain’t gonna happen. Ever.

    The terms “sentient” and “intelligent” are often used interchangeably but I think we need to be cautious about that. Sentient simply means the ability to perceive. It does not imply the ability to learn, draw conclusions from data, communicate, or anything else. My cat is sentient but she’s as dumb as a box of rocks. But I digress.

    First, is there an intelligent species out there? Chances are probably pretty close to 100% that there is.

    Second, could we ever detect them? Maybe? Quite possibly not. We’ve made significant advances in the study of exoplanets in the last few decades. We can tell if a planet is in the “goldilocks zone”, the perfect distance from its star. We can even, in some cases, get spectroscopic information that can indicate the presence of conditions that might be similar to Earth’s. But that doesn’t mean there is life there. We are a high energy civilization. Everything we do gives off radiation of one sort or another that could possibly be detected. But that doesn’t mean that other civilizations would have the same priorities that we do, or use the same technology. Prior to the development of radio some 120 or 130 years ago, we emitted virtually no radiation at all that would indicate a civilization was here. Another civilization could be giving off no detectable radiation at all.

    Could we visit them or they visit us? Nope. Ain’t possible. Speed of light and all that.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It took millions of years for life, as we know it, to adapt to this radiation-bombarded rock. How it may develop, or has developed, in an ‘other’ atmosphere is not known.

      I made the mistake of including intelligent life with sentient life. I think that when we search for life on other planets, we limit ourselves to ‘life as we know it,’ whether sentient or of higher intelligence. It must have traces of the biology we recognize, and we measure ‘intelligence’ by our only yardstick; Earthly humanity. We need to open ourselves to other possibilities.

      Liked by 5 people

  11. I’m with grouchy about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of the words setience and intelligence. However, unlike his cat, my cats are highly intelligent. They learn all kinds of things, including a basic form of sign language which requires a bit of abstract thought. And there are lots of species right here on Earth that show intelligence. Science is just barely scratching the onion on that one.
    But you are talking alien other-worldly beings, and there I could go from zero to infinity on how many other intelligent/sentient species might be out there.
    But to cut a long discussion short, and I think I may have told you this before, I unintentionally and unexpectedly wrote in a piece of fiction that has not yet been published, “The biggest surprise humans found as we expanded into the galaxy, and into other galaxies, was that we are alone in all the worlds where higher lifeforms should have existed. We never found as much as one primate species anywhere!” And I wondered, what do my fingers know that I don’t?
    In addition, in reference to grouchy’s comment about the “goldilocks” zone, that might have meaning for carbon-based life, but who knows what other elements could be the base of life in climates totally alien to beings here on earth. Some science fiction writers suggested silicon as a possible base, but probably any element could be used, and we would never even look at them to see if they were intelligent. Planets similar to Venus, Jupiter, or even Neptune we might never even visit. The half of Mercury that always faces the sun would be unlivable for life as we know it, but why not for life-as-we-do-not-know-it? Anything is possible. Life does not have to be carbon-based, or even corporeal.
    Okay, I’ll stop here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ” carbon-based life” — IMO, those are the keywords.

      Who knows what other forms of life might be lurking in the Great Beyond? Personally, after watching science-fiction movies for a big part of my life, I’m not so sure I would want to find out! 😕

      Liked by 2 people

      • All that fiction, which I loved too — it taught me to think for myself — was written by Earthlings, for Earthlings. I came oh so close to being published in those days, except the publisher wanted me to change a friendly meeting of alien minds into a battleground. I held firm, the story was about peace in the stars. He said “No one wants to read about peace, they want to read about violence.” So, I never got published.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Just to throw this out there for the heck of it, I think we put far too much importance on intelligence. If we look at the examples of the life forms we have on this planet, the vast majority of living species on this world are not what we would all ‘intelligent’. In fact, if you look at us human beings, one could make the argument that intelligence is actually detrimental to the survival of the species.

      Liked by 2 people

      • There’s always that. We are certainly not intelligent enough to care about all the other species, including species that are necessary to our own survival. But then, we are the main species who allow individuals to mistreat other individuals intentionally. We supposedly know better, but yet we allow this m8streatment to go on daily, despite the harm to our whole species.

        Liked by 4 people

  12. There are more than one questions here, as I see it, at least these two:
    1. Is there life out there in the universe, and
    2. Will “we”, mankind on Earth, find life elsewhere?

    For the first question, as a “believer” in math, I embrace the concept of infinity. So acknowledging that the universe is infinite (despite ideas that it might be shrinking, etc.) then there is a chance that there is life somewhere out there. The idea of infinity makes it easy to accept that possibility (as infinitely small it may be!)

    For the second question, although it’s possible, even if there is life out there I can accept that our feeble abilities may be inadequate to detect it. Or maybe the timing will be off. In any case, even if there is life out there, there’s no guarantee that we will ever make contact or otherwise detect it.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. This is a bit long and dated (2014), but still has great perspective and information…and why there may be less out there than we hope for.


    I actually do care about this as I really hope some sentient beings have made it to or will make it to a type III civilization, even if it’s not us. It will be profound for the universe and all meaning itself.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. There is something else is called The Great Filter.
    The Great Filter theory says that at some point from pre-life to Type III intelligence(highly advanced intergalactic travel) there’s a wall that all or nearly all attempts at life hit. There’s some stage in that long evolutionary process that is extremely unlikely or impossible for life to get beyond. That stage is The Great Filter.

    If this theory is true, the big question is, Where in the timeline does the Great Filter occur?
    It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fu- -ed.
    Much about this in the article above.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Great post. Fantastic comments.

    Given how huge the visible universe is, and knowing what we know about what we can see, and understanding that what we can see is a minute fraction of a fraction of how much more is out there, it is in my mind a certainty that some sort of intelligent life exists out there somewhere.

    Will we ever see it? Doubtful. We are headed towards our own extinction, if we are going to see it, it will have to find us before the cockroaches become king. My money is on Nope!

    If it is out there, and it already knows we are here, it is a wise choice to remain unknown to likes of the human species. Since we haven’t bred out the lying ass corrupt Congress critters, greedy corrupt corporate types, and red hat wearing mouth breathers from our kind by now, that probably ain’t going to happen either. We simply cannot be trusted.

    I can’t even figure out how we got this far… if we did find intelligent alien species out there, or they find us, how long do you think it would take the “build the wall” idiots to crawl up out of the slime? We don’t deserve to be found. We don’t even deserve to not go extinct.

    I’ll try to get up on the other side of the bed in the morning.

    Liked by 5 people

    • HA! That “build the wall” comment tickled me. I could imagine in my mind’s eye the group you mentioned trying to put up a wall in space to keep those pesky aliens out!

      Liked by 2 people

        • What gave you the idea that humans would be dumb enough to attack aliens whom have crossed light space? Oh yeah, Nov 8th.:)
          Yeah nice could be a big ask. But we are comedy gold.

          Liked by 4 people

        • lol, that we are.

          We’re not just not nice. We are dishonest, devious, greedy, arrogant, two faced assholes with ulterior motives, hoping we can find something to benefit us from every encounter we have.

          Maybe not all of us, but enough to matter. Any aliens coming through here will be better off stopping for gas someplace else. 😉

          We are definately not worth the trouble.

          Liked by 3 people

    • We got here thanks to evolution, not anything we had control of through most of our history.

      Now, we have made several landings on Mars. We haven’t found Ming The Merciless, but we’re still turning over rocks.

      Life is a tenacious miracle. We’ve found it in ice, under ice, and at thermal vents on the ocean floor. Sentient life we never could have imagined. Life that can detect outside stimulation. Not necessarily ‘intelligent’ life.

      Liked by 4 people

      • True. But I’m thinking that since it has happened once here, that means it is certainly possible elsewhere in this crazy, enormous beyond our imagination, universe.

        And yes, evolution that happened here, might well be completely a different thing happening somewhere else. Something we might not even recognize as sentient or intelligent could be both. Or neither. Who knows? I do find it interesting that when sci fi takes us to other habitable worlds that suit us, that the landscapes and breatheable air are a little too much like home. Even much of sci fi alien life walks around with 2 arms, 2 legs, a head, and a need to breathe our level of oxygen!

        Indeed sentient and intelligent are not the same thing. It would though be astounding to even discover a living bacteria outside of our little petri dish.

        Liked by 4 people

        • I remember Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers climbing out of their spaceships without spacesuits. Except flash Gordon had that onesie, and Ming The Merciless looked very human for a Martian.

          “We are dishonest, devious, greedy, arrogant, two faced assholes with ulterior motives,”…

          We also can take note that our rockets were created out of the desire to destroy one another. Now they are weapons of peace???

          We better hurry and find a way off this planet. There is something awful in the air.

          Liked by 1 person

  16. I often think after our earth, barren as it may be then, is sucked into the sun in what 5 billion years and everything that was ever made, created, written, discovered, the life forms, the flora and us will be totally unknown for evermore. No matter what alien species may come near in their travels, they will never know of the existence of earth…as they probably aren’t even living and evolving yet themselves. It’s not like they can find ancient artifacts when the very planet is no longer there.

    Liked by 4 people

    • About 5 billion years before our star turns into a red giant and starts expanding. If that math holds up. Science is always correcting itself and looking for better answers, so they could be off by a few years. :-> Icarus has already proved we don’t want to fly in that direction!

      Well, I wasn’t planning on making the trip, anyhow. That’s just one of my pipe dreams.

      Voyagers I and II travel at 38,000 mph. It will take about 40,000 years for them to reach another star system.

      Maybe if we get started, we can beat that 5 billion-year deadline.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Hello Nan. Dogs that love gravy I cannot believe this! You know my computer set up, as I was reading your post and working my way through the comments on my other monitor one of the YouTube science channels I like to watch had an episode on this very subject. I will try to summarize the start of it. They start by asking where are all the spaceships headed to our planet already. Then they describe how young the planet earth is compared to the Universe as we understand it. Then they point out that the universe is really at its starting point in its lifetime. There is a lot more time to go before heat death than there already has happened. The name of the episode is What If Humanity Is Among The First Spacefaring Civilizations? They are saying what if instead of us waiting for the aliens to show up, we are the first ones and we are the ones that need to go looking for them. Then the show goes into how mathematically due to the layout of our galaxy we could expect to see the alien expansion of habitable worlds. I won’t post the link because I know how you feel about videos, but the channel is PBS Space Time on YouTube. It was posted 3 days ago. What a concept, we are the beginning, not the middle or the end. If we were smart about it maybe we could export only the best of us and leave the worst of what we are here on earth, or better yet jettison it into the sun. Spread the best ideas of humanity, I like that. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I know. I’m so flighty. No focus. So you know I won’t be building that fantastic Ring World (Larry Niven) that may carry us across the galaxy.

    By the way, I subscribe to PBS but had not seen that documentary. Thank you and Scottie.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. We know too little.

    If there was a spacefaring civilization on Earth 65 million years ago, there might be virtually no trace to be found of it. The dinosaur apparently had efficient enough blood circulation to provide oxygen to evolve a brain into what we would call intelligent. Absense of evidence may be evidence of absense, but it is not proof.

    It is nigh impossible to count any likelyhoods, from a single occurance of life and it looks like we have a tendency to mold our expectations, biases and beliefs based on our extremely limited knowledge on any subject matter. Given the vast size of the universe and the timespan it has existed the possibilities seem limitless. We can estimate them within the laws of physics as we now understand them, but I think that for example the so called “goldielocks zone” hypothesis is rubbish, because it only accounts for the life precisely as our own emerging. Yet, even within the confines of that narrow margin the chemical possibilities for life, as we know it, to emerge, sentience from that, intelligence from it, civilizations from that and space travel from those are abundant even within our own galaxy.

    The wast expanses between stars may be an obstacle too hard for us humans even in the far future, but we have no way of estimating if they would be that to some “others”, or not.

    Liked by 3 people

    • We know too little. We know so little that we know nothing at all in comparison.
      When we decide to do something about climate change we will come out alright but our fellow earthlings will be diminished. 😦

      Liked by 3 people

  20. Today I used my pathetic POWERS to contact a SENTIENT BEING to answer your obviously Serious Question on Sentient beings. Yesterday you cut up a photo of your …
    I am another SENTIENT BEING …
    SIBYL C.Anne


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