188 | Arik Kershenbaum on What Aliens Will Be Like

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If extraterrestrial life is out there — not just microbial slime, but big, complex, macroscopic organisms — what will they be like? Movies have trained us to think that they won’t be that different at all; they’ll even drink and play music at the same cafes that humans frequent. A bit of imagination, however, makes us wonder whether they won’t be completely alien — we have zero data about what extraterrestrial biology could be like, so it makes sense to keep an open mind. Arik Kershenbaum argues for a judicious middle ground. He points to constraints from physics and chemistry, as well as the tendency of evolution to converge toward successful designs, as reasons to think that biologically complex aliens won’t be utterly different from us after all.

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Arik Kershenbaum received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology from the University of Haifa. He is currently College Lecturer and Director of Studies at Girton College, University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens — and Ourselves.

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