© 1979 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.
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About Xenology (the 1979 book)
Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization is now available on the web.
The book was privately published and circulated in hardcopy form during its writing in 1975-1979 and after its completion in 1979.
All local URLs and anchored book links from this website will remain stable.
Click HERE to access the book.
Capsule Summary of Xenology
An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization
— First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, 1975-1979, 2008
History of the idea of extraterrestrial life
Stars, and galaxies
Interstellar communication techniques
Sociology and legal issues pertaining to first contact
Appropriate interaction protocols pertaining to first contact
- Definition / origin of life
- Exotic biochemistries
- Possible alien bioenergetics
- Energy sources
- Interstellar travel
- Alien weapons
- Planetary and stellar engineering
- Extraterrestrial governments
- Extraterrestrial culture
Robert A. Freitas at Wikipedia
Robert A. Freitas Jr. (born 1952) is a Senior Research Fellow, one of four researchers at the nonprofit foundation Institute for Molecular Manufacturing in Palo Alto, California.
Freitas holds a 1974 Bachelor's degree majoring in both physics and psychology from Harvey Mudd College, and a 1978 Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Santa Clara University. He has written more than 150 technical papers, book chapters, or popular articles on a diverse set of scientific, engineering, and legal topics. He co-edited the 1980 NASA feasibility analysis of self-replicating space factories and later authored the first detailed technical design study of a hypothetical medical nanorobot, the respirocyte, ever published in a refereed medical journal.
In 1977-78 Robert Freitas created the concept sentience quotient (SQ) as a way to describe the information processing rate in living organisms or computers. Freitas is authoring the multi-volume text Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the potential medical applications of hypothetical molecular nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. Volume I was published in October 1999 by Landes Bioscience while Freitas was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing. He published Volume IIA in October 2003 with Landes Bioscience while serving as a research scientist at Zyvex Corp., a nanotechnology company headquartered in Richardson, Texas, during 2000-2004.
Also in 2004, Robert Freitas and Ralph C. Merkle coauthored and published Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, the first complete survey of the field of physical and hypothetical self-replicating machines. In 2006, Freitas and Merkle co-founded the Nanofactory Collaboration, a research program to develop the first working diamondoid nanofactory.
In 2006, Freitas was awarded Lifeboat Foundation's Guardian Award, and he received the 2007 Foresight Prize in Communication from the Foresight Institute. In 2009, Freitas was awarded the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for Theory.
In 2010, Freitas was granted a patent for what was at the time (2004) the first patent application ever filed on diamond mechanosynthesis.
Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities (Landes Bioscience, 1999) ISBN 1-57059-645-X
Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Vol. IIA: Biocompatibility (Landes Bioscience, 2003) ISBN ISBN 1-57059-700-6
Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine: Biocompatibility (S Karger Pub, 2004) ISBN 3-8055-7722-2
1. ^ "Molecular Manufacturing". Imm.org. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
2. ^ "Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award 2006: Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Bill Joy". Lifeboat.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
3. ^ Peterson, Christine (2007-10-09). "Nanotechnology prizes go to Leigh, Stoddart, Freitas, Ou". Foresight Institute. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
4. ^ Storrs-Hall, J. (2009-10-09). "Foresight Institute Announces Feynman Prize Winners". Foresight Institute. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
5. ^ IMM Presentations & Activities — see "2004": "Robert Freitas submitted the first patent ever filed on diamond mechanosynthesis"
6. ^ Simple tool for positional diamond mechanosynthesis, and its method of manufacture US Patent 7687146 — Published 30 March 2010
Nanomedicine website Freitas' Nanomedicine book series on medical nanorobotics, freely available online
A paper on Respirocytes (artificial red cells) by Freitas (first medical nanorobot design paper ever published)
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
Robert A. Freitas Jr.
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing
Robert A. Freitas Jr. is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) in Palo Alto, California, and was a Research Scientist at Zyvex Corp. (Richardson, Texas), the first molecular nanotechnology company, during 2000-2004.
He received B.S. degrees in Physics and Psychology from Harvey Mudd College in 1974 and a J.D. from University of Santa Clara in 1979.
Freitas co-edited the 1980 NASA feasibility analysis of self-replicating space factories and in 1996 authored the first detailed technical design study of a medical nanorobot ever published in a peer-reviewed mainstream biomedical journal.
Freitas is the author of Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the potential medical applications of molecular nanotechnology; the initial two volumes of this 4-volume series were published in 1999 and 2003 by Landes Bioscience.
His research interests include: nanomedicine, medical nanorobotics design, molecular machine systems, diamondoid mechanosynthesis (theory and experimental pathways), molecular assemblers and nanofactories, atomically precise manufacturing, and self-replication in machine and factory systems.
He has published 49 refereed journal publications and contributed book chapters, co-authored Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (Landes Bioscience, 2004), and in 2006 co-founded the Nanofactory Collaboration.
He won the 2009 Feynman Prize in nanotechnology for theory, the 2007 Foresight Prize in Communication, and the 2006 Guardian Award from Lifeboat Foundation.
He wrote the first two U.S. patents ever filed on diamond mechanosynthesis (the first of which was awarded on 30 March 2010) and serves on the Editorial Boards of 9 medical or nanotech journals.
His home page is www.rfreitas.com.
Last updated 12 April 2010
Other Books & Articles
Samples from Google's Search Results — Book Reviews for Xenology
Xenology and Metalaw
Xenology, Metalaw and Thermoethics
Portal to the Universe – 3 Dec 2010From:
In 1979, the scientist, inventor (and then-newly minted lawyer) Robert A. Freitas, Jr. published the fascinating book Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization.
Freitas has now graciously published the entire book on the web for free.
It has a good summary of Andrew Haley's and Ernst Fasan's work on Metalaw, and another section detailing Fasan's elaboration of Haley's Metalaw accompanied by a useful table containing dozens of attempts by other authors to articulate metalegal concepts.
What caught my attention, however, was yet another section that contains some valuable criticism of Metalaw, criticism which obviously predates my own paper critical of Metalaw for its failure to contemplate the likely machine nature of ETI.
Freitas is skeptical of Metalaw' reliance on Kant's Categorical Imperative (and by implication, Metalaw's reliance on the natural law theory of jurisprudence).
Freitas points out that Kant ignores "the possible existence of a sentience of a qualitatively higher order than that possessed by humanity."
Freitas suggests that Ernst Fasan "falls into the same anthropocentric trap" by regarding "human-style intelligence as 'the highest possible level of life.' " Pointing out that multiple orders of higher sentience are possible (and quite likely given the likely ...
What is Metalaw?
According to Dr. Ernst Fasan, Metalaw is “the entire sum of legal rules regulating relationships between different races in the universe.” Metalaw is the “first and basic ‘law’ between races” providing the ground rules for a relationship if and when we establish communication with or encounter another intelligent race in the universe. Dr. Fasan envisioned these rules as governing both human conduct and that of extraterrestrial races so as to avoid mutually harmful activities.
Attorney Adam Korbitz presents a guide to exploring the relationship between the pioneering metalegal work of Andrew G. Haley and Dr. Ernst Fasan, and the scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
If you really enjoy that English language though, you cannot miss Xenology – An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, by Robert A. Freitas Jr. It’s a lot to read, Freitas has just made the whole book available online.
“Topics include the history of the idea of extraterrestrial life; comparative planetology, stars, and galaxies; xenobiology (definition/origin of life, exotic biochemistries, and possible alien bioenergetics, biomechanics, sensations, reproduction, and intelligence); extraterrestrial civilizations (energy sources, biotechnology, interstellar travel, alien weapons, planetary and stellar engineering, xenosociology, and extraterrestrial governments and culture); interstellar communication techniques; and the sociology, legal issues, and appropriate interaction protocols pertaining to first contact.”
When you see all these words together, you may have a bad feeling from all the dubious stuff that is usually presented about these topics.
One more reason to read Xenology: it’s a serious, sober approach that separates fact from speculation, but which also doesn’t fear to speculate.
From: Matt Weber
They are not, and have never been, simple characters in children’s books. They were keepers and teachers of ancient secrets, rulers and caretakers of vast stretches of Earth land, and they came from a distant land beyond the visible star-dome of the night sky. Their presence is felt far and wide in graven images and statues of stone, their influence resonating clear to this very day.
Dragons show up everywhere, ubiquitously powerful, undeniably otherworldly, and infinitely wise. Ancient mythology is repleted with it from every corner of the world. Archaeology and palaeontology offer tantalizing clues about the dragons that roamed the lands in ancient times. And now, they are showing up in areas once thought free of mythical beings—that of genetics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, and xenology, which is the scientific study of all aspects of extraterrestrial life, intelligence, and civilization.
For more information about Xenology, click on the image of the book or follow this link here for a free online copy of the 1979 book entitled Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intellignece, and Civilization, by Robert A. Freitas Jr. This book is rather dated, but it details the very first written document about the brand new science field which is still in its infancy due to the nature of the subject matter.
For a different extrapolation of the subject matter, Dr. David Brin talks about Xenology here, in his article published in 1983, entitled Xenology: The Science of Asking Who’s Out There.
To be perfectly honest, if I had been given the chance and the choice (and the funds needed) I would have happily followed in this line of research during my years at the University, if there was ever such a thing available to be studied. But you see, there is hardly anything out there openly that can be studied. What available material is locked down so tight, it would be just about impossible to sneak a peek, let alone do a serious graduate-level scientific study on it.
And this is such a crying shame that we are not given access to study about this—most especially because we are living descendants of this ancient legacy.
But there is hope.
The great thing about living in this day and age is the crazy awesome access we all have to information about anything we ever wish to study. As Donny Miller so wisely said, ‘In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.” And so I dig and dig and dig, and what I find is a treasure trove of knowledge out there, dug up in bits and pieces by very smart folks—folks like Dr. Joe Lewels who wrote, in his article for FATE magazine titled Humanity’s Historical Link to the Serpent Race:
As long as humanity has kept records of its existence, legends of a serpent race have persisted. These myths tell of a mysterious race of superhuman reptilian beings who descended from the heavens to participate in creating humankind and to teach the sciences, impart forbidden knowledge, impose social order, breed with us, and watch over our development. The serpent like beings were not alone, but were part of a retinue of super beings thought to be gods by the ancients.
This is by no means new information. It is as old as dirt. Clay tablets taken from Sumeria said the exact same thing, only more belabored and far far more colorful. Go to other corners of the world and the story is the same, only the names and places have been changed.
The idea of a reptilian race does not fill me with great dread, or fear, or horror, or shock, or revulsion. It does none of those things because I grew up hearing about my ancient ancestors and their deep family ties with dragons. The legend speaks of Lạc Long Quân whose maternal grandfather was a dragon living under a lake, and Âu Cơ, his wife, who gave birth to my ancient ancestors.
Dragons are not just associated with good luck, good fortune, and wisdom, they were also one of my ancestors!
Please allow me to introduce you to Dracorex. He looks just like a dragon doesn’t he?
Look at the bony protrusions! Look at the horns, the snout, look at the eye sockets! He’s a dragon straight out of mythological legends! Yet, he is as real as can be.
Dracorex is a 66-million-year-old dinosaur that was found in the continent of North America. To-date, there is only one fossil of Dracorex found, but that does not mean that only one existed. I am not saying that Dracorex is a member of the serpent-like beings who were such a huge part of our culture. I am simply saying that the existence of Dracorex is an established fact, but other than the one specimen found, there has been no other. In other words, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
This opens up the high probability that there are dragon bones out there…we just haven’t been able to find them yet…or even more likely, we haven’t been able to identify them as such for some inexplicable reason.
We only need to look within to find that missing evidence. In my next posting, I will discuss further, the biological link between us modern humans and our ancient ancestors, the serpent beings.
Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intellignece, and Civilization. Robert A. Freitas Jr., J.D.
Xenolgoy: The Science of Asking Who’s Out There. David Brin, Ph.D.
Humanity’s Historical Link to the Serpent Race. Joe Lewels, Ph.D.
Sci-Fi Writer's 101
Resource Post: "Xenology" - A Sci-Fi Writer's 101
Hi, I thought this might be useful for people:
Xenology - An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization is the almost complete, free online version of a comprehensive resource book for sci-fi writers and other interested people.
It's from the 1970s, so the science isn't entirely accurate anymore (especially fields like biochemistry and exobiology were still in their infancy back then), but I think it's still very useful and interesting.
It's written by a guy who now researches nanotechnology and who was involved with SETI and political advocacy for space exploration, so I'm fairly confident he researched this as well as he could back then.
I haven't read all of it yet, but judging from the fields that aren't my speciality, it seems understandable enough for laypeople.
Reason for Xenology
The Reason for Xenology
© 2013 by Jordan S. Bassior
Xenology – the scientific study of alien life and civilizations – is a science unique in that we haven’t yet found any alien life or civilizations to study. Why, then, does the discipline exist? After all, there are no real sciences of, say, demonology or unicornology, because we’ve never discovered any real demons or unicorns. (Mystics and fantasists compile lists of imaginary demons, and fantastists and fangirls lists of imaginary unicorns, but this is not the same as “scientific study” of a subject).
The difference is that we have a very strong suspicion that alien life and civilizations do exist, for the very good reason that we exist, and the same forces which caused life and intelligence on Earth have probably caused life and intelligence on at least some other planets. We bother to discusss the issue scientifically, even though we haven’t found any such life and civilizations yet, because for various reasons such alien life and civilizations, if and when discovered, are bound to be of great significance to both the study and the destiny of the life and civilization which has originated on Earth.
The Universe is very large. As we learn more about its structure it becomes apparent to us that the natural forces which generated terrestrial planets around Sol have also generated terrestrial planets around other stars, and what we know of chemistry and paleontology make it very likely that these forces have also generated ecosystems on at least some of those worlds. Terrestrial planets seem to be common enough that it is very likely that there are alien ecosystems in some of the nearby star systems – say, within 100 or so LY of the Earth.
Such ecosystems would be important to us because they would give us a wider informational base from which to study our own ecosystem. As long as we have only one example of an evolved ecosystem (Earth’s) to go by, we cannot tell which aspects of that ecosystem are essential to being an ecosystem, and which are chance and incidental features of our particular ecosystem. Also, since any ecosystem is essentially a colossal natural experiment, taking place over a whole planetary surface and lasting billions of years, it would be rather surprising if we didn’t find some unique and useful results from any particular new ecosystem we studied.
Paleontology tells us that it takes a planet merely a few hundred million years to generate an ecosystem, but billions of years to create sapient life. Consequently, sapience should be much rarer than life. It would be surprising if there was no alien life within 100 LY of Earth (indeed, it wouldn’t be particularly surprising if some existed in our own star system); it would not be all that surprising if there were no alien sapients within that radius. Furthermore, since civilization (agriculture plus writing) occurred fairly late in the history of the ape family, and spacefaring fairly late in the history of civilization, we might expect to find many savage for each civilized sapient race, and many planetbound for each spacefaring civilization, unless of course existing spacefaring civilizations have already colonized many nearby star systems.
Everything I’ve said about alien life applies to alien sapience, civilizations and spacefaring. Alien sapients would represent different experiments in being smart; alien civilizations in being civilized; alien spacefarers in being scientific. We would learn through the study of such beings just which aspects of our current sapience, civilization and science are essential, and which accidental. Additionally, we should be aware that alien civilizations, especially spacefaring ones, might pose a threat to us – it is obviously theoretically possible for such civilizations to attack us, and if they exist they might. So from purely selfish, even insular motives, we should locate any which happen to be in our vicinity, and be on our guard against them.
Do we know for certain that any of this exists? No, not yet, and that’s why this is a curious science, for it is studying something of whose reality we cannot be certain. What is certain is that the more we study the Universe beyond our lonely planet, the wider the base of information we gain for an estimation of the frequency of alien life, sapience and civilization, and hence the more solidly-grounded becomes xenology.
It is dangerous to attempt to walk through our existence as a species with our eyes squeezed firmly shut – better to open them wide to the wonders of the Universe. And, while we’re dong so, keep a lookout for the tigers.
From: Transhumanist Wiki
Xenology is now available on the web. The book was privately published and circulated in hardcopy form during its writing in 1975-1979 and after its completion in 1979.
Xenology may be defined as the scientific study of all aspects of extraterrestrial life, intelligence, and civilization. Similarly, xenobiology refers to the study of the biology of extraterrestrial lifeforms not native to Earth, xenopsychology refers to the higher mental processes of such lifeforms if they are intelligent, and so forth.
The xeno-based terminology was first coined for this usage by the renowned science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (starting in The Star Beast, Scribner, New York, 1954), though the first use of the related word "xenologist" is apparently attributable to L. Sprague de Camp (The Animal-Cracker Plot, Astounding Science Fiction 69 (July 1949); The Hand of Zei, 1950).
Are We Alone In The Universe?
Are We Alone In The Universe?
Uploaded on Mar 10, 2008
For fifty years, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence has been scanning the galaxy for a message from an alien civilisation.
So far to no avail, but a recent breakthrough suggests they may one day succeed.
Horizon joins the planet hunters who've discovered a new world called Gliese 581 c.
It is the most Earth-like planet yet found around another star and may have habitats capable of supporting life.
NASA too hopes to find fifty more Earth-like planets by the end of the decade, all of which dramatically increases the chance that alien life has begun elsewhere in the galaxy.
Forum Topic at: Above Top Secret | BBC Horizon - Are we Alone in the Universe?
UFO Documentary with Dan Aykroyd
UFO Documentary with Dan Aykroyd
2001 was a real space odyssey for me. Instead of flying on a spaceship to the moon, Jupiter, or beyond the solar system, I met Dan Aykroyd for the first time to talk about UFOs. That’s when I knew I had to sit him down in front of the camera, just let him talk about the truth and make a documentary film out of it. Because if I didn’t no one would believe we had this amazing conversation.
In this long conversation with Dan Aykroyd about UFOs, I thought it was like Einstein was hiding inside of a comic genius, just so that if he told us the real truth he wouldn’t have to believe it. If Einstein had told us UFOs were real, would we have believed *him*? He never spoke about it. But Dan Aykroyd speaks about UFOs as if he were a full professor on the subject. Hollywood star Dan Aykroyd, who is a believer in the existence and government cover-up of alien life-forms, hosts this look into the phenomenon of UFO sightings.}
Akroyd shares his personal experiences in this field and also discusses recent findings with author and UFOlogist David Sereda. DAN AYKROYD UNPLUGGED ON UFOS features UFO footage as well as testimonial material from Astronaut Gordon Cooper and others, including former president Ronald Reagan.
Table of Contents for Xenology
All links in this T.O.C. lead to the original pages at Xenology.Info website
I ♦ Perspectives
Preface and Acknowledgements
Chapter 1. Introduction* [* Not available]
II ♦ Xenobiology
Chapter 9. Experimental Xenobiology: Searching the Family of Sol* [* Not available]
III ♦ Extraterrestrial Civlizations
- 16.1 Bioneering
- 16.1.1 Intelligence Amplification
- 16.1.2 Genetic Surgery
- 16.1.3 Genetic Hybrids and Synthetic Genes
- 16.1.4 Ectogenesis and Cloning
- 16.2 Immortality
- 16.2.1 Xenogerontology
- 16.2.2 The Limits of Immortality
- 16.3 Androids and Cyborgs
- 16.3.1 Androids and Organleggers
- 16.3.2 The Bionic Alien
- 16.3.3 Enter the Robot? (aka. Uploading)
- 16.4 Machine Life
- 16.4.1 Artificial Intelligence
- 16.4.2 Robots and Robotics
- 16.4.3 Machine Evolution
- 17.1 Communication vs. Transportation
- 17.2 Relativistic Starflight
- 17.3 Conventional Interstellar Propulsion Systems
- 17.3.1 Nuclear Pulse Propulsion
- 17.3.2 Controlled Fusion Rocket
- 17.3.3 Interstellar Ramjet
- 17.3.4 Beamed Power Laser Propulsion
- 17.3.5 Total Conversion Drives
- 17.4 Exotic Propulsion Systems
- 17.4.1 Gravity Catapults
- 17.4.2 Antigravity and Reactionless Field Drives
- 17.4.3 Tachyon Starships
- 17.4.4 Momentum Interconversion Drives
- 17.4.5 Statistical Transport
- 17.4.6 Black Holes and Space Warps
- 17.4.7 Teleportation and Transporter Beams
- 17.5 Time Travel
- 17.6 Interstellar Navigation
- 17.7 Generation Ships and Suspended Animation
- 20.1 Biological Evolution
- 20.1.1 Evolution Rates
- 20.2 Xenopsychology
- 20.2.1 Energy Ecology
- 20.2.2 Competition and Aggression
- 20.2.3 Universal Emotions
- 20.2.4 Xenophobia
- 20.3 Early Technological Civilizations
- 20.3.1 Telluric Civilizations
- 20.3.2 Aquatic Civilizations
- 20.3.3 Avian Civilizations
- 20.4 Alien Social Systems
- 20.4.1 Models for Extraterrestrial Societies
- 21.1 Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Government
- 21.1.1 Governance Scales
- 21.2 Alien Political Organizations: Xenopolitical Factors
- 21.2.1 Sentience
- 21.2.2 Dispersion
- 21.2.3 Size
- 21.2.4 Heritage
- 21.2.5 Xenopolitics: Tentative Conclusions
- 21.3 Extraterrestrial Organizational Cybernetics
- 21.3.1 System Complexity
- 21.3.2 System Structure
- 21.3.3 System Stability
- 21.4 Strategic Galactography
- 21.4.1 The Economic Viability of Interstellar Cargo Transport
- 21.4.2 Galactic Trade Routes
- 21.4.3 Interstellar War
- 22.1 Alien Religion
- 22.2 Alien Ritual
- 22.2.1 Religious Rites
- 22.2.2 Extraterrestrial Cults
- 22.3 Ethics and Law
- 22.3.1 Extraterrestrial Ethics
- 22.3.2 Legal Universals
- 22.3.3 Xenopenology
- 22.4 Philosophy and Knowledge
- 22.4.1 Alien Logic
- 22.4.2 Time, Language, and Space
- 22.4.3 Science and Paradigmology
- 22.4.4 Xenoeschatology
- 22.5 Extraterrestrial Aesthetics
- 22.5.1 Xenomusicology
- 22.5.2 Alien Painting and Surface Arts
- 22.5.3 Dance and Sports
- 22.5.4 Alien Sculpture and Architecture
IV ♦ First Contact
- 24.1 The Cosmic Miracle
- 24.1.1 Eavesdropping
- 24.2 Extraterrestrial Signaling
- 24.2.1 Alternative Channels: HEPs, Neutrinos, Gravitons and Tachyons
- 24.2.2 Electromagnetic Waves and Frequency Selection
- 24.2.3 Acquisition and Artificiality Criteria
- 24.2.4 Alien Message Contents
- 24.2.5 SETI: Yesterday and Today
- 24.3 Extraterrestrial Starprobes and Artifacts
- 24.3.1 Why Probes are Better
- 24.3.2 Mission Profile
- 24.3.3 The Nature of Alien Artifacts
- 24.3.4 Project Daedalus
- 25.1 First Contact and Metalaw
- 25.1.1 Basic Metalaw
- 25.1.2 Fasan's Metalaws
- 25.1.3 Universal Thermoethical Principles of First Contact
- 25.2 The Character of First Contact
- 25.2.1 Mass-Energy Scales of Contact
- 25.2.2 Information-Rate Scales of Contact
- 25.2.3 Generalized First Contact Taxonomy
- 25.3 First Contact Protocols and Elementary Astropolitics
- 25.3.1 Encounters Between Equals: The 0/0 Contact
- 25.3.2 Gods and Primitives: The 11/0 Contact
- 25.3.3 Trees and Humans: The 0/10 Contact
- 25.3.4 Higher-Order Contacts
- 26.1 Military and Political Response
- 26.1.1 Remote Contact
- 26.1.2 Direct Contact
- 26.1.3 Surprise Contact
- 26.2 Public Reaction and the Press
- 26.2.1 Rumor and Credibility
- 26.2.2 Panic and Mass Hysteria
- 26.3 Legal Issues of First Contact
- 26.3.1 Alien Animals
- 26.3.2 Legal Standards of Personhood
- 26.3.3 Extraterrestrial Persons
- 26.3.4 Aliens and American Law
- 26.4 Human Sociocultural Response
- 26.4.1 The Acculturation of Humanity
- 26.4.2 Social Impact of First Contact
- 26.4.3 The Religious Response
- 26.4.4 Impact on Science and Technology
Chapter 27. The Cosmic Perspective* [* Not available]
V ♦ NOTES
About Xenology (the field)
Xenology may be defined as the scientific study of all aspects of extraterrestrial life, intelligence, and civilization. Similarly, xenobiology refers to the study of the biology of extraterrestrial lifeforms not native to Earth, xenopsychology refers to the higher mental processes of such lifeforms if they are intelligent, and so forth.
The xeno-based terminology was first coined for this usage by the renowned science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (starting in The Star Beast, Scribner, New York, 1954 HTML commentary), though the first use of the related word "xenologist" is apparently attributable to L. Sprague de Camp ("The Animal-Cracker Plot," Astounding Science Fiction 69(July 1949); "The Hand of Zei," 1950).
This usage was subsequently defended by Heinlein and Harold A. Wooster in a 1961 article published in the journal Science (R.A. Heinlein, H. Wooster, "Xenobiology," Science 134(21 July 1961):223-225 PDF) and by Robert Freitas (CV) in a 1983 article published in the journal Nature (R.A. Freitas Jr., "Naming extraterrestrial life," Nature 301(13 January 1983):106 HTML HTML). The latter article drew a complaint ("Xenology disputed," Nature 302(10 March 1983):102) from four specialist researchers claiming to represent "20 research groups in at least eight countries" who preferred to retain use of "xenology" for the study of xenon concentrations in meteorites (an argument that would not apply to other uses of the xeno- prefix) but their plea has largely failed. By December 2008, Google listed 20,600 entries for "xenology" of which only 1140 referred to xenon and most of the rest referred to the extraterrestrial usage. Online dictionaries (e.g., Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, 2003-2008) now typically define "xenology" as "the scientific study of extraterrestrials, esp. their biology."
About Xenology (the 1979 book)
Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization is now available on the web. The book was privately published and circulated in hardcopy form during its writing in 1975-1979 and after its completion in 1979. Additional information on the original First Edition of this book is available here, and the full Table of Contents (and free access to the entire text online) is available here. All local URLs and anchored book links from this website will remain stable.
Click HERE to access the book.
About Robert Freitas and his Other Websites
Information about the author, Robert A. Freitas Jr. (CV), is available at the author’s homepage. Scientific papers and other articles by Robert Freitas on extraterrestrial life, SETI, and related topics are collected here. Nanomedicine-related websites associated with Robert Freitas include the Nanomedicine Book Site, the Nanomedicine Art Gallery, and the Nanomedicine Page. The Nanomedicine Page includes a nontechnical nanomedicine FAQ and hundreds of links to articles, papers, websites, people and organizations who are active in the field of nanomedicine. Other websites associated with Robert Freitas include the Molecular Assembler website which hosts an online copy of the technical book Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, and the Nanofactory Collaboration website.
Preface and Acknowledgements for the First Edition
- The Field of Xenology
- Why Publish the First Edition?
- History of Book - Part I
- Part II
The Field of Xenology
What, exactly, is “xenology”? As described by the subtitle of this book, xenology may be defined as the scientific study of all aspects of extraterrestrial life, intelligence, and civilization. Similarly, xenobiology refers to the study of the biology of extraterrestrial lifeforms not native to Earth, xenopsychology refers to the higher mental processes of such lifeforms if they are intelligent, xenotechnology refers to the technologies they might possess, and so forth.
I was among the first to attempt to popularize the “xeno-“ prefix in association with the general study of extraterrestrial life (e.g., see my letter to Nature, below). However, credit for coining the xeno-based terminology in this usage is generally given to the renowned science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (starting in The Star Beast, Scribner, New York, 1954 HTML commentary), though the first use of the related word "xenologist" is apparently attributable to L. Sprague de Camp ("The Animal-Cracker Plot," Astounding Science Fiction 69(July 1949); "The Hand of Zei," 1950).
The scientific usage of the xeno- terminology was subsequently defended in the mainstream scientific literature by Heinlein and Harold A. Wooster in a 1961 article published in the journalScience (R.A. Heinlein, H. Wooster, "Xenobiology," Science 134(21 July 1961):223-225 PDF) and subsequently by myself in a 1983 article published in the journal Nature (R.A. Freitas Jr.(CV), "Naming extraterrestrial life," Nature 301(13 January 1983):106 HTML HTML). (Heinlein had confirmed to me, by personal correspondence in August 1980, that he still regarded his coinage as both valuable and correct.)
My article in Nature drew a complaint ("Xenology disputed," Nature 302(10 March 1983):102) from four specialist researchers claiming to represent "20 research groups in at least eight countries" who preferred to retain use of "xenology" for the study of xenon concentrations in meteorites (an argument that would not apply to other uses of the xeno- prefix) but their plea has largely failed. By December 2008, Google listed 20,600 entries for "xenology" of which only 1140 referred to xenon and most of the rest referred to the extraterrestrial usage. Online dictionaries (e.g., Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, 2003-2008) now typically define "xenology" as "the scientific study of extraterrestrials, esp. their biology." So far, the mainstream field seems to have settled on the name “astrobiology” (the biology of stars?), but I still harbor hope that the more etymologically correct name, xenology, can be applied to the more general field of study that I tried to help define, so long ago, with my book – titled Xenology (~500,000 words, ~150 illustrations, 4000+ references), First Edition.
Why Publish the First Edition?
Reading again the text that I first wrote 30 years ago, it feels as though this book has fallen through a time warp or a crack in time, or has just been removed from a time capsule. But while some of the material seems dated, much of it still appears fresh and new, and the synthesis of the field (of xenology) is still relevant and unique. The main purpose of this book was to help create a coherent new field of study called “xenology”.
As you read this book, please bear in mind that it was written before Sagan’s “Cosmos” TV series and predated the internet, the personal computer, the cell phone, most of genetic engineering, Ronald Reagan, all but the first few Space Shuttle launches, electronic word processors and spell checkers, and Google and online reference sourcing. It was written before the sulfur volcanoes of Io or the liquid seas of Titan had been discovered, before extrasolar planets had been observed, and before my own optical and radio telescope SETI searches and other writings on replicating systems and nanotechnology (and several years before nanotechnology had even been invented, via the 1981 PNAS paper and 1986 book Engines of Creation by K. Eric Drexler). Xenology predates the first engineering study of self-replicating systems by NASA in 1980, almost all of the important work on interstellar probe SETI, and the development of the entire field of molecular nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. In the fictional sphere, Xenology also predates all the Star Trek and all but one of the Star Wars movies, and its writing began just 6 years after the theatrical release of the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.
If this book is so ancient, why bother to publish it now? There are several reasons.
First, I have an emotional attachment to it, having spent so many years (5) of my life writing it, back in the late 1970s. Indeed, I wrote it during my time in law school, a very trying experience for someone accustomed to scientific thought processes. Writing this book helped keep me sane during those years. (The whole thing was typed on my trusty blue IBM Selectric typewriter, and the graphics were hand-drawn or paste-ups, which explains in part why it has taken so long to get this up into "print".)
Second, Xenology was my first major effort at bookwriting. It taught me how to research, organize and write a reasonably coherent and lengthy single-topic work. It was excellent training and taught me valuable lessons in scientific writing that I’ve put to good use in my subsequent work. Anyone who is familiar with my later work will recognize the early manifestations of my characteristic proclivity to organize information in a comprehensive, almost encyclopedic manner, imposing some coherence on the information to help create a foundation for a more rigorous discipline someday to come.
Third, the work contains many thousands of literature references – a style of writing that has also become my trademark. Please bear in mind that back in the late 1970s, all of these references had to be assembled “the hard way”. In those antediluvian days, you had to look things up in a hardbound citation index and then walk the stairs and aisles of a real bricks-and-mortar library to find the right shelf containing the exact volume that you needed, then photocopy the papers for a nickel a page. Xenology was completed more than 20 years before the advent of the World Wide Web made online literature searches and pdf document retrievals a snap.
Fourth, while this book is not as technically rigorous as my later books, there is enough good material here that I thought it deserved to see the light of day. It is also reasonably well written, and contains some unique and valuable insights that I’ve not seen published elsewhere in the last 30 years. So I think it still has a valuable contribution to make to the field.
Fifth, as far as I know there is still no single text that attempts to integrate the entire field, as Xenology does. The only book that comes close is Intelligent Life in the Universe by I.S. Shklovskii and Carl Sagan, but that was published in 1966.
History of the Book - Part I
I first got interested in the study of possible extraterrestrial life through the works of Carl Sagan in the science area and Larry Niven in the science fiction area, in the early 1970s. Also, my favorite physics professor at Harvey Mudd College, Thomas Helliwell, indulged my budding freshman curiosity about rotating black holes, tachyons, calculations on the gravitational stability of toroidal planets and the dynamical stability of ringworlds around stars. At HMC, freshman were required to conduct a full-time 1-month engineering project. For my project, I chaired a 7-man team to create a design for a fusion-powered manned interstellar spaceship ("Project MISEV").
I began accumulating materials for Xenology in 1974, and began the actual writing in 1975, finally completing the last chapter, Chapter 26, in early 1979. There were 27 chapters originally planned. I never got around to writing the introductory (Chapter 1) or concluding (Chapter 27) chapters, nor one other chapter in the middle (Chapter 9) that was intended to be a summary of the unmanned interplanetary spacecraft that had been sent to other planets as part of the actual “experimental” search for life in our solar system, with a particular focus on the Viking landers on Mars that conducted the first biochemical searches for life on another planet via direct sampling. The book contains some pretty speculative material in a few places, including material from speculative fact and science fiction writers when appropriate. But generally the text tries to stick to concepts and arguments that are grounded in some kind of precedent either in biology, technology, or the social sciences and the arts.
Xenology was privately circulated while it was being written in the late 1970s. The book was reviewed by 40 notable scientists (see below), who were first contacted by letter, then mailed one or more chapters, after which these reviewers generously offered constructive comments leading to revisions. I then attempted to find a mainstream publisher, but collected only rejection slips. Finally, a science fiction writer friend (James Hogan) recommended his book agent, Ashley Grayson, who, upon reading the entire manuscript, became very enthusiastic about its prospects. Ashley kindly spent a couple of years shopping it around to the general run of speculative science and science fiction publishers. We got a few nibbles, but in the end all the editors and publishers who reviewed it concluded that the book was too lengthy (hence necessarily would have to be too highly-priced per copy) to be a commercial success. The book continued to be privately circulated to a select few others, most notably some science fiction writers and editors of my agent’s acquaintance, throughout the 1980s. The full book was never published in print (hardcopy) form or offered for sale commercially.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, I carved out about a dozen “science fact” articles from the book materials, which were published in Analog magazine and a number of other venues. Around this same time I became one of the principal advocates for interstellar communication via material probes rather than radio waves and published a number of technical papers on this subject. I also conducted the first SETI searches for possible orbiting alien artifacts in Earth-Moon orbits using optical telescopes, published the first engineering scaling study of a self-replicating interstellar probe, performed the first radio SETI search at the tritium hyperfine line (which, if detected, would have been unambiguously artificial), and participated in the first engineering design of a self-replicating lunar factory for NASA. These activities thoroughly distracted me from further pursuing publication of Xenology in book form.
By 1994, I’d begun my current career in nanotechnology, starting the research that would eventually lead to my first published book in the field, the first volume in the Nanomedicine series, and beyond. At a nanotechnology conference in May 1998 I met Robert Bradbury, who had a company doing life extension research but was also writing in the area of SETI and astroengineering topics. Bradbury expressed interest in my unpublished book, and after reading some of it, offered to scan it and place it online alongside his existing collection of SETI-related works. From mid-1999 to mid-2000, I xeroxed Xenology and snailmailed it to him, chapter by chapter, which he scanned in and formatted. He also paid a Russian colleague to manually type the first 4300+ references (about half of my accumulation, but including most of the references used in the book) since these were all handwritten in a notebook.
Because of the imperfect nature of the scanning process, a large number of typos crept into the text that had to be caught and manually corrected. Bradbury did a lot of this but could not catch everything. This was a job only the author could do. Also, the last two chapters included a lot of handwritten insertions into the typed text that could not be scanned, so this material (the two longest chapters in the book) was unusually heavily laden with typos, dropped sentences, missing fragments, and the like. My personal attention was required, but by this point I was employed full time as a nanotechnology Research Scientist at Zyvex, so I couldn’t spare any cycles for the necessary corrections – and again, progress on the book languished.
While I could not consent to Bradbury placing the uncorrected manuscript online for general access in its initial unedited rough form, I also could not find time to correct it. As a compromise, I agreed that individuals upon special request could view the materials, which were placed online at Bradbury’s private Aeiveos Corp. website. This at least afforded Bradbury and a few selected SETI researchers ready access to the materials during 2000-2008 on an invitation-only basis.
During the 2000s the number of requests for access to the manuscript continued to grow. So for the last few years I’ve been slowly working, in spare moments, to clean up the text, reformat the material to be consistent with my other online books, then put the book up for free public access at my own xenology.info website that I reserved in 2002 for just this purpose. I’ve largely resisted the urge to change much, making just minor editorial corrections where appropriate, adding Section numbers, renumbering Figures and Tables, and correcting typos, but generally avoiding bringing the book up to date which should be the job of the Second Edition (if one is ever written). Such updating and correction is desperately needed, but must await a proper thoroughgoing editorial process that will be undertaken (most likely) by others.
The First Edition was originally written in the style of Scientific American (e.g., pitched to a scientific layperson reader), and it maintains this non-academic style throughout. There are only a few mathematical equations in this book. The work is heavily referenced to the primary nontechnical literature on extraterrestrial life (and related material), and is well referenced to the primary technical literature in many specialized areas but not uniformly throughout.
Xenology was current as of 1979, but the field has made 30 years of progress since then. The reader will find numerous omissions of facts and valuable references that have been published in the intervening years, and probably even a fair number of outright errors which were unknown at the time of writing. I’ve resisted the urge to rework problems and present new views. Missing also are my own three SETI studies and a couple of dozen papers I wrote in the 1980s. Many concepts that are widely discussed today were relatively unknown back then; many others have found their way into science fiction during the intervening years. For the most part, the material has held up reasonably well. The first contact protocols, scenarios and taxonomy in Chapter 25 are still relevant today – and perhaps even more so, since they obviously also apply to artificial intelligences which are now much closer to fruition than they were thirty years ago. The governance scales in Chapter 21 can be used to generate thousands of different possible governmental forms; the study of interstellar governance complexity and stability has been only lightly studied academically to this day. My discussion of coboglobin-based blood (original to me) in Section 10.4 has not been replicated elsewhere. And so forth.
Most significantly, the First Edition of Xenology was written entirely in the “pre-nanotechnology” era, thus largely ignores this all-important coming development. Even so, I anticipated this field in a small way in Section 16.4.1 when I wrote: “If alien electronic artificial intellect is possible, how physically small might it be? The theoretical lower limit of cell size is about 400 Angstrom, a bit smaller than the tiniest known living organism (the PPLO). A brain with 1010 neurons of this size would neatly fill a minute cube one-tenth millimeter on a side. But artificially designed alien microbrains theoretically could be vastly smaller still. Using molecular electronics with components on the order of 10 Angstrom in size, 1010 microneurons could be packed into a space of a few microns. This is small enough to hide inside a bacterium, a fact which may have several very interesting consequences.” It remained for other authors (including myself, in later decades) to more fully explore those "interesting consequences".
I wish to sincerely thank the aforementioned Robert J. Bradbury for his constant encouragement and enthusiasm about this book, and for laboriously scanning my typewritten pages and converting them to an initial html form over a period of about 12 months during 1999-2000. Robert also painstakingly coded into html format all of the Tables and Figures, some of them very lengthy and very complex, by hand. Without Robert’s truly Herculean initial efforts on my behalf, I could not have found the personal time or energy to carry these materials across the finish line to completion. I also thank Robert for scanning in the images for numerous figures. Some of these images have poor legibility, but this is my fault, not Robert’s. These images were scanned from my copies of library originals some of which were in turn reproduced using an ancient wet xerographic process, causing them to become heavily grayed out with time. I also regret that the text is not more heavily linked. However, each paragraph and illustration in the book is tagged with an anchor point to facilitate direct URL citation.
Please note that the official version of the book, as corrected, restored, and formatted by the author, is now formally published at the http://www.xenology.info website. No other version should be cited as authoritative or regarded as authentic.
I also wish to belatedly thank my original reviewers who read parts of the manuscript and provided critical comments. This includes: R. McNeill Alexander, Norman J. Berrill, David C. Black, Jonathan Boswell, Ronald N. Bracewell, A.G.W. Cameron, J. Desmond Clark, Mary Connors, John D. Currey, Karl W. Deutsch, Stephen H. Dole, Frank D. Drake, Freeman J. Dyson, John F. Eisenberg, Francis R. Flaim, Robert L. Forward, Sidney W. Fox, Arthur Harkins, Thomas M. Helliwell, Sol Kramer, Paul Kurtz, Paul D. MacLean, Magoroh Maruyama, Stanley L. Miller, Marvin Minsky, Peter M. Molton, Barney M. Oliver, Leslie E. Orgel, George C. Pimentel, Cyril Ponnamperuma, William K. Purves, Tim Quilici, S. Ichtiaque Rasool, Jack D. Salmon, Charles L. Seeger, Mark Stull, Jill Tarter, Francisco Valdes, Gerard de Vaucouleurs, David H. White, and Edward O. Wilson. Most of their comments were integrated into the text but a few corrective items might have been missed. As a result I must apologize in advance for any errors in the original work that may have survived. All such errors should be attributed, and reported by email, solely to the author. I also thank Ashley Grayson for his efforts on my behalf.
Finally, I must thank my wife, Nancy Ann Freitas, for her patience and support during the writing of this book, more than three decades ago near the start of our married life together. Without her help and faith in me, this book simply could not have been written.