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    • Convergent evolution, laws of physics, similar building materials... I often think of how these things may have shaped life out in the universe in such a way that there could/should be creatures fairly similar to humans and other things on our planet. It's kind of a comforting thought, though Star Trek and other science fiction beings are often much more similar to humans than I'd expect in reality. I do realize that it's a limitation of budget and so on that kind of restricts the producer's choices. If there is life out there, do you think much of it is simlar to Earth's creatures? I guess it would depend on where the life is found - gravitation, atmospheric pressures and so on. I'll try not to think of what kind of penises might be found out in the universe :)

      Oh a quick comment on how environment may influence our cultures, etc. Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel touches on how the environment influenced the development of the world's cultures and how things are today. Bruce D. Smith's The Emergence of Agriculture talks a bit about such things as well.

      Something related but the reverse of what you are refering to is the recent scientific discussion that life on earth may in fact have affected the rate of plat tectonic movement. Apparently certain organic materials may in fact have lubricated the plate movement. Some many interconnections that it's virtually impossible to tease out all of the influences yet it's fun to try.