A 3 kilometer crysilis speeds thru intergalactic space towards the milkyway spiral galaxy travelling thru the sparce media gaining energy and momentum from the heat signatures of vibrating protons. Its structure is now resembling a giant pointy teardrop as the structure's mass tries to compensate for the dimensional distortion it is creating as it moves thru space.
Within the structure a colony of aeomeba like creatures manipulate gels of differing viscosities and chemical properties to convert the gathered heat energy it absorbs from its exterior surroundings to propulsion. The gel, a secretion of the aeomeba changes densities and flows throughout the structure affecting a chemical life support, sustinance and sensitivities giving it navigation and observation capeabilities.
A small temperature increase around one of the aeomeba creatures triggers a division and there are now two. Cili fluttering in patterns and stimulating the gel it releases a paste that is quickly whipped into a gel that flows thru the rest of the gel to another aeomeba that secrets a different chemical that quickly flows to the inner wall of the structure and hardens creating a protective layer to the structure.
The intelligence is not the aeomeba creatures but the gel that they secrete. The intelligence is not the many billions of aeomeba but the one entity that is the gel. It has properties that allow it to phase itself to anything it requires as it eats the heat energy of interstellar space in an existence that only is itself.
not the idiots running for the '08 presidential race.
on a better note though, i would say anyone that is a member of coolscifi is intelligent.
ok, for serious now. an intelligent alien has to be one that can travel beyond the parameters of their solar system or other alternate means. be one that can rationalize, reason and expect the unexpected and be able to communicate with others in a logical manner.
We are so limited in our grasp of imagination. Would we recognize a truly alien lifeform if we saw it? If it didn't fit into our little preconception of what life looks like, would we recognize it as intelligent?
Does intelligent life have to develop on the same scale as us? If life evolves on a planet the size and density of our moon or smaller its scale would be different from ours. Life on a planet or moon larger and more dense than Earth might be squashed but very strong. They would posess super powers compared to us. Our atmospheric pressure would be similar to space to them. They would need pressure suits to exist in our atmosphere. Perhaps they would choose the deep ocean realm to explore for those reasons.
Then there is the chemical composition of our atmosphere that would likely be different. Not enough oxygen, not enough methane or another chemical. Its possible our atmosphere would be deadly to ET.
Truly alien, a creature evolved under a different spectrum star in a more densly populated area of the galaxy may have natural protection from cosmic rays and deadly radiation. Reversed, our star system could prove as deadly as a supernova to some.
Alien: Complex olfactory development may make speech obsolete or even 'unheard of' where they can sense the subtle changes in pheremones and personal odors. Would they smell our fear, our jealousy or our love?
Would they use their bodies to move things around and manipulate their surroundings or would they have an interface thru machines to react with their world. Would they use their minds to control slaves of lesser beings to do their work? Could they change the environment to create a controlled fall/elevation to manipulate their environment? Will they have a deft or a clutz touch? Would they be coordinate enough to move about on this planet or would they fall on their faces from its gravity and spin?
Scale is one of many good points.
Isn't the nucleus of a Hydrogen atom the size of a grain of sand, and its Electron's orbit the size of a football field ?
Perhaps they're so large we (and all our "stuff") pass right through them unnoticed ?
One who knows already what we do not, and directs our choices to the correct ones, getting us to believe it was our idea.
The mega intelligent:
They'd have to be beyond conveyance apparatuses, whether that be cars, skate boards, or spaceships.
As in Dune..."fold space", lens(type) "projectors", omni-present, "pop" in & out.
Able to hold their breath (so to speak), and survive elsewhere/everywhere, or make use of whatever the environment offers, under water included, or again have a better way to store what they use to survive.
Have a personal shield (& however much) bigger for protection from every sort of danger to themselves.
Be beyond tasty food, hot bodies, a buzz (from any source), sporting events, and all other forms of entertainment that use up so much of our time/life.
Once achieved (though boring), they'd be able to create beyond the realm of our thinking.
Anyone, anything you could communicate with.
My idea of an intelligent alien life form is this. I think it would be composed of liquid with a solid mass in the center pulling the liquid together using some kind of gravitational force. I dont think of aliens as those big green ones that you see in movies.
Our radio telescopes have scanned the skies looking for anything that indicates another intelligence, so far there's been nothing. Is it possible that there are no aliens? Is it conceivable that the Earth and its inhabitants were a "once in a lifetime" happening? Hmmm! Are we truly alone and unique? Or are we merely termites in need of . . . .
it seems that anywhere there is a fluid medium, and a difference in available energy, life will form. Just look at the cosmic stuff forming in deep-sea volcanic vents.
It is theoretically possible that a civilization could develop as a close proximity gamma-ray burst strikes a gas giant. The development would probably be around the fringes of the gamma-ray strike (if say, half the planet were struck). Such a civilization's inhabitants would have to have an incredibly high rate of metabolism, because they would only have a few seconds to a few minutes in which to build their entire civilization. So we are looking at life spans of a few nanoseconds. (Has anyone read dragon's egg?)
With that said, the prime places for life become the interiors of gas giants, Io, Venus, and the sun's corona and convection layers.
Also, consider the idea of aliens living inside Earth.
The outer core is a superheated fluid. The inner core is an even hotter lump of solids. There are tons of convection layers in the mantle. The boundary between the crust and mantle would be another prime location for civilization.
Consider extinctions and biological complexity. The surface undergoes extinctions every few hundred million years or so. Just look at how all the huge, advanced lifeforms have died out as a result. Such catastrophic events do not happen in the interior. A global temperature change of a few degrees is far less than a 1% deviation from average inside the earth. No ice ages. No global warming. No asteroid impacts. No atmospheric concentration variations.
How much control do you think they would have over magma flows and such? Remember the flood-basalt eruption at siberia in the Permian Mass Extinction? I wonder if they flooded siberia with lava so they could explore the surface. Imagine how much they would have learned between now and then. Knowing the climate of Venus, they might have already teleported to it. Or evolved from it and teleported here.
They would probably have some sort of grasping appendages for moving around through the semisolid regions of the mantle, but they would most likely resemble aquatic beings. Except resistant to heat. As for sensory organs, all they would need is a very vibration sensitive membrane. With it, they could construct a 3-D image of the Earth's interior from all the tiny ambient seismic vibrations. They could even communicate to one another using this same method. (Ambient seismics might be sentient communication)
I'm guessing some kind of dextorous squid. Or squid-like. Or at least some appendages of some kind, and the stuff to move about in a fluid (magma jets = fast movement)
Of course, space-borne beings are going to be exactly the opposite. Extreme tolerance to cold, solar winds, and high energy radiation, as well as an image-based communication system (bio-luminescent arrays and highly evolved eyes?) Of course, a species using starships would probably be extremely dextorous (smaller, lighter controls inside ships) and probably physically frail from microgravity (Unless they are REALLY advanced, they would not have developed gravity control systems; much less make them small and efficient enough for starships). In space, reptile and insect-like organisms might have an advantage: they are radiation resistant, and only planets with magnospheres can support other types of life. Some advanced insects might not even need spacesuits because of their hardened exoskeletons, but probably not without really good genetic engineering.