Is solid land necessary for advanced life?


EXCERPT: . . . What about technologically advanced life? Fire can’t exist underwater, and fire is thought to have been essential for humans to develop technology. There would be no controllable electricity underwater, either, and without electricity, it’s difficult to imagine what kind of technology could exist on a water world.

However, as William Bains and I speculate in our book The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds, perhaps smart ocean creatures could use thermal vents on an alien planet’s seafloor to supply concentrated heat energy. Such energy wouldn’t be as portable or controllable as fire, but the underwater civilization could farm fish without fire, or perhaps use other resources to make tools and technology. As an example, long strands of kelp could be ideal for making rope.

And maybe we shouldn’t give up too quickly on the idea of electricity on ocean planets. In fact, some fish on Earth use electricity, if only to stun prey....


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