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Can advanced civilization develop under water? May 7, 2006

Posted by federalist in Open Questions.
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Is it possible for a technically advanced civilization to develop under water?  I.e., are there any absolute barriers to an intelligent aquatic species developing portable energy, refining natural resources, or building complex mechanical, electronic, and photonic machinery?

Imagine something like dolphins with opposable thumbs on a world with no dry land.  There is no reason they couldn’t evolve a language capability like ours.  And they could certainly create and use primitive tools.  But are there raw energy sources they could concentrate and tap?  Some analog to our land-based energy cycle, where we can start with combustible biomass to bootstrap our way to refined fossil fuels and more advanced energy sources?  And is this possible without access to the atmosphere?

And if they could mass and control energy, is it possible to refine metal underwater?

Could they develop writing or some other reliable way to record and transport information, to enable them to progress to more advanced technology?

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1. brent halstead - January 31, 2012

this is something I have thought quite a bit about… it is something that could explain why we have not heard from ET… an advanced aquatic species would have a greater difficulty exploring the upper areas of their world and might have less reason–> if for example their planet was one giant watery sphere seeing the sky wouldn’t be very interesting… As for energy resources there is definitely energy in the ocean from undersea volcanoes to black smokers to tides and currents… refining metal I’m not sure about but why do that when you could potentially grow things from coral? or perhaps you’ve advanced in genetics and chemistry beyond where we are


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