Could dolphins make it to outer space? What about just to Newark?

Make up whatever story you want to imbue dolphins with human-like intelligence. Consider the average dolphin’s cognitive abilities to be on par with the Einsteins and Newtons of our domain, including communicative skills. To help things along, assume that their flippers’ muscles retain fine-tuning control such that if they wanted to, they have the dexterity to use chopsticks, type, operate digital watches, etc. Lastly, consider that they have the science fiction-like urge to explore.

Would they get the chance to thank us for all the fish?

How do they refine metals or produce plastics in the ocean?

I have no idea. I’m neither a dolphin nor a smart human. I’m lucky I was able to semi-coherently write the question out.

There are heat sources in the oceans (e.g. geothermal vents) of unknown (to me) use for smelting. I know there are a lot of smelts out there, but I think they’re mostly freshwater.

How far technology-wise could dolphins get?

Not much - water conducts heat 24 times better than air, so it would be a lot harder to get a localised heat source that will smelt your metal without boiling any dolphins trying to use it.

If they had the dexterity they could use found tools. That’s about it. Even flint tools might be beyond them if the water slows their movements too much to allow effective knapping.

Well they can breath, so they could go on land for short periods of time for important stuff. I just don’t see a progression that would necessitate that move though. They could also weave underwater and make nets, making their fishing more efficient.

Larry Niven had intelligent dolphins communicating with humans (and using human-provided hand prosthetics for manipulating things) in his earely novel A World of Ptaavs.
I saw a pilot whale brain and a human brain side by side in a museum a wek ago. The pilot whale gbrain was as convoluted as the human brain, and bigger. There’s more to intelligence and cuklture than that, but it does give you pause.

That’s the one thing a dolphin can’t do - a dolphin that goes on land will be stuck there for the rest of its life.

Not if they’re as dexterous and intelligent as the op makes them out to be.

If they’re as dexterous as you make them out to be, the question is completely meaningless. If they possess the capacity to move about on land, it’s no longer a question about whether dolphins can develop technology, but whether an intelligent, terrestrial, dexterous creature can develop technology.

Well I assumed their skin required moisture, which is why I said ‘for short periods’. The ocean has a lot more space for them, and they’re a lot more comfortable with it. Even if they made ‘dry suits’ or something to go onto land with a layer of water around them, like a dolphin space suit or something, it’d never be their natural environment. And like I said, even though they could go onto land, I don’t see a technological progression in the water that would require that. They’d need to have a reason for it, and while metallurgy is a damn good reason, what would cause them to come up with it in a water culture?

Isn’t it reasonable to say that an intelligent, dextrous dolphin can develop space travel by first developing a way to work on land? If you treat every step in progress as the new starting point you can reduce any achievement’s importance.

Perhaps they can semi-beach themselves in shallow water with soft mud (so they don’t slowly crush themselves) to start building some kind of cart they can power with their tails. Of course they would have rope tied to their tails while working on this so other dolphins can pull them back into deeper water. Once they have those carts they can maybe work on more complex designs, although I imagine it would be very awkward. They could also work on systems of canals to enable them to travel inland more easily. Maybe their best bet would be to employ humans to do a lot of work for them. They can make the money to employ said humans by fishing as Darth Ayebaw suggested, or perhaps as lifeguards, ocean explorers, even military missions. Perhaps it would be easier to just earn enough money that way to pay Richard Branson to get them into space. Or Newark.

They would need the pressure to obtain things, which they really don’t have. They appear to be one of the most care free species where everything is so readily available to them, though man’s fishing methods are straining that. They really have no need to leave behind childlike thinking patterns to play. So no not in their current form do I see them trying to invent intersteller spacecrafts.

OTOH take something like penguins who are at their limit of survivability in terms of reproduction (needing solid ground miles away from their ocean food source) and you have some potential if you add dexterity to grasp objects and resources beyond snow and ice typically available in Antarctica.

One way a dolphin-like, fully intelligent species might achieve space travel is by breeding themselves to be increasingly amphibious. I assume that their lack of arms and hands would not interfere with their ability to perform selective breeding experiments; the ethics of such experiments might be dubious, but perhaps dolphins would disregard such concerns.

Once they could persist on the land they could take advantage of fire and other phenomena that are only possible on land. Then it’ll be bang!-zoom!-straight to the Moon.

This might be a long term strategy, but dolphins have existed for millions of years so far; if they really are intelligent, one wonders why they haven’t done it already.

They cannot perform selective breeding experiments for amphibious mobility unless they can identify dolphins which are a step in the right direction.

The ones that can step in any direction would be a good start.

They could definitely make it Newark, as they are already there.

I’m not buying the selective breeding thing to become amphibious. First, that makes them no longer dolphins and second, selective breeding for that says you know what the advantages are for doing so, and you wouldn’t really know that beforehand. It’s not like they would think: Hey, if we only lived on land, we could harness fire!

To avoid sidestepping the question, let’s assume that humans went extinct thousands of years ago (poor handset sanitization) and that for all their intelligence, dolphins cling to a small set of religious beliefs such that genetically adapting to land violates the spirit of their Fourth Commandant (“four flippers good, two flippers bad”).

Underwater dolphin civilization (if it can be called that yet without digital watches) has been swimming along for millennia. Their super-duper intelligent and creative minds make curiosity and knowledge-gaining one of their highest joys. Their oral (clickity-clack) culture thrived for a thousand years before someone realized that they could preserve their words in some sort of written code.

A thousand years pass and the stories they tell are masterpieces. Han always flips first.

Thousands of more years pass. Though they have no need for trade, they love complex problems and eventually develop mathematical concepts. Though they have no military, games such as ‘precision jumping’ and ‘stack-a-rock’ lead to figuring out all concepts we relate to algebra, trigonometry and calculus.

A thousand more years pass. No story-altering physical evolution takes place save improved dexterity and intelligence.

They certainly know that land exists; they can see it when they jump out of the water. They can see it when they play “beached whale!” on vacation. From their forays up rivers they know that land takes up vast amounts of space. They know the effects of drying out and lacking sufficient buoyancy in their initial land forays. But that doesn’t stop them–intellectually. Having thoroughly explored their own environment (with limited exceptions; they have only visited the Sacred Trench once for a short period of time), they are fascinated with what lays beyond. They are quite taken with finding the source of a lingering scent they’ve dubbed ‘Newark’.

So … under water, what kind of tools could they develop? Could they make dry-suits? Use tools to manipulate thermal vents without harming themselves? Approach open, magma-exposing rifts? Could they manipulate oils such to ignite them on the surface and use that heat to their advantage? Would they ever get to the point where they could build contraptions to explore land?

And if so, given the vast richness that land could offer resource-wise (unlike us travelling to the moon or Antarctica), could that in turn lead them to space?

In the aquarium? Or dodging the container ships and garbage barges somewhere off the Port of Elizabeth?

I’ve always been suspicious of What Exit?'s proclivity for herring. :dubious:

Are found objects from extinct humans available?