April 21, 2011

From Planets To Consciousness: Other Kinds of Minds

Alien Brain?
How does a planet influence the characteristics of its inhabiting lifeforms? Have you ever wondered how birds manage to navigate and reach their destination across thousands of miles? There's growing evidence that birds can "see" Earth's magnetic field and utilize it to find their way around. And bats do it too. In addition to their echolocation abilities, bats also use earth's magnetic field for orientation.

I am convinced that for each planetary property, there is a corresponding animal adaptation that utilizes that feature for survival. The planet's characteristics have a direct bearing on the evolution of the lifeforms inhabiting it.

And since we mentioned bats, the philosophical question "What's it like to be a bat?" is inescapable. How does it feel like to sense "magnetism'? Surely, additional sensations would affect the animal's perception of it's world. How would other additional sensations affect your thoughts? Can you imagine how it would be like if you could see in other wavelengths of light such as UV? Can you imagine how bees see the world?

If the dominant species with extra senses on another planet were to evolve a higher level of consciousness, what kind of mind will it have? What kinds of brains are possible on specific exoplanets? Could some animals here on Earth give us a glimpse of other "kinds of minds"?

Aside from magnetism, what other planetary properties (gravity, atmospheric density and pressure, temperature, etc) can lifeforms link their adaptations in order to survive? The amazing variety of extremophiles gives us ample room to speculate on this subject. If given a chance to evolve, what kinds of consciousness will extremophiles develop? Is a "hive mind" just one archetype among many types of consciousness?

This post can serve as a introductory teaser to the relationship between planets and consciousness. In addition to exploring speculations on what kinds of life are possible elsewhere, I would also explore what "kinds of minds" are possible on exoplanets. And I would tag it "Exonoology" (The Study of Alien Minds) perhaps as a branch of philosophy in the context of other worlds, or Exophilosophy.

Birds can see Earth's Magnetic Fields
Bats respond to Magnetic Fields
Magnetic fields influence the sleep–wake cycle of animals