“The Planet-of-the-Apes Hypothesis” Revisited –Will Intelligence be a Constant in the Universe?
Charley Lineweaver, a provocative cosmologist with The Australian National University, believes the “Planet of the Apes Hypothesis” -a theory subscribed to by Carl Sagan and the astronomers involved with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), that human-like intelligence is a convergent feature of evolution -that there is an intelligence niche, into which other species will evolve if the human species goes extinct is based on a flawed notion of evolution, a notion that could have serious implications for our search for intelligent life elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Let’s take a quick look at the plot of the 1968 movie, “Planet of the Apes,” with Charlton Heston playing the role of Taylor, an astronaut on an interstellar journey. After traveling for over two thousand years at nearly the speed of light (during which the astronaut crew ages only 18 months due to time dilation), the spacecraft crash lands on a planet that has oxygen comprising 20 percent of the atmosphere, and a 23 hour 56 minute sidereal period.
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