Sunday, December 16, 2007

More whales

Another random thought, only peripherally related to the whales...which I read about in Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, last night.

Whales are known to have a variety of songs that they use to communicate with eachother. They tend to use the 20 Hz frequency to do so (if I remember correctly, but the details aren't important), and that is a frequency which passes so easily through sea water that a whale in the waters off of Antarctica could relatively easily have a conversation with a whale in the Aleutian Islands, off of Alaska. In a sense, this was the first global communications network. Now, we humans in our industrial way of doing things, have introduced so much noise into the oceans that whales probably can't communicate with other whales more than a few hundred kilometers away. If we have any desire to have any sort of communication with intelligent life on other planets, shouldn't we try to communicate first with the intelligent life on OUR OWN PLANET? Whales are smart enough to have utilized a sort of global communications network, and we've effectively destroyed it. Whales are smart enough to use incredible teamwork to capture their dinner. If that's not a sign of intelligence (on the part of the whales), then I'm not sure what we're expecting to find in the sky. If there is indeed extraterrestrial intelligence, and they indeed tried to communicate with us, would we even recognize it?

I'm sure its no accident that on the golden record included on the Voyager spacecraft, included are several songs of the humpback whales.

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