While nitpicking in the Fermi's Paradox thread, I was thinking about the different types of intelligences that could be out in space, and what would preclude an intelligent civilization from being able to acheive spaceflight technology.
Man has always wondered about the stars and it has been an unarguable force in our culture since recorded time. We have always looked up and wondered about space, and our natural curiosity has pushed us to try to learn more and make sense of what we are seeing. But what if we had never seen the stars, or only had brief , blurry glimpses? How would that affect our level of technology? Our progress? Our evolution?
Consider the dolphin or octopus, both highly intelligent creatures. Dolphins would lack the ability to use tools, but could see the sky (enough to peak interest in space); octopus do (by some accounts) use tools and perform other sophisticated behavior (such as gardening) but can't really see the sky. (I could be wrong about this, they might get glimpses from shallow water, but dont know how well they's be able to see the stars and moon, etc.
Both of these species, being waterborne, would have a much more difficult time in making it to space because of the water environment.
1. They cant see the sky, or only get brief glimpses, so the effect of seeing space constantly and wondering about it would not be a big factor in their culture.
2. Scientific development would be limited - electricity would be near impossible to develop in a water environment.
3. Lack of need for complex tools - Man's intelligence was fostered by our continuing struggle for survival, and inventions such as fire, the wheel, the axe, the bow, etc. all played a part in our technological progress. But most of these things wouldn't be possible or useful underwater.
4. Environmental - its easier for a land animal such as man to explore the ocean than it would be for a waterborne creature to explore the land; the tools to do so would likely never develop in the water, and this would have to be a first step (IMHO) for a waterborne intelligence to acheive space.
What are your thoughts? Are water based intelligences planet bound?