I would like to make a world that follows all of our laws of physics except that every star has a habitable, earth-like planet in its Goldilocks Zone (I love that term). Each planet has a collection of plant and animal life that is almost identical to ours and a single humanoid immortal.

The immortals are just like us in all appearances and fitness. Some of them look male and some look female but due to their immortality they can't reproduce. They can be wounded, but heal very quickly (like regrowing a limb overnight kind of quickly). They cannot be killed but can get "stuck." Getting "stuck" happens when they get put in a situation that would kill a human but, for whatever reason, they can't heal from it. A good example of this is drowning, they can't breath so their brain gets shut down and if they can't float back to the surface on their own, they will be considered "stuck" until they can resurface.

Each immortal has his own planet and starts out with a basic understanding of their world. They know they can get "stuck," They know what a tree is, and they know how to walk and move with basic agility.

My question is not about how they could be immortal or even how to get them unstuck, but how their technology would likely progress. What kinds of innovations would a single individual care about? How much could one person do by themselves with an unlimited lifespan? Mainly I am looking to see what would be impossible for said immortals to achieve. I will probably ask a question later about the interactions of said immortals after they develop space travel, but let's focus on this for now.

  • $\begingroup$ Seems a bit broad. What level, and at what basic intelligence level do they start? Also, are they "aware" that they are Gods, and that other such beings exist? Additionally, do they have actual supernatural powers at all? $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 12 '16 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry the word god was a little misleading. They are simply immortal. No they don't know that there are others. As for intelligence, they can reason concretely and abstractly fairly well. $\endgroup$ – unknown Feb 12 '16 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you may want to change it to what technological progresses wouldn't happen. If you think about it, you are literally limiting yourself to the creativity of an individual. To suggest anything about what progress would likely happen is putting a limit on the creativity of your immortal. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Feb 12 '16 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ ... just think of the myriad fictional universes human minds have concocted, each one different. Imagine having a literal eternity to make those a reality! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Feb 12 '16 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon that actually was what I was asking. I'll edit to clarify. $\endgroup$ – unknown Feb 12 '16 at 21:46

Their evolution would be more dependent on their memory skills than anything else. We, humans, can only store a limited amount of information in our minds. The technological evolution we have gone through, has been made possible eons of work, the results of which were saved carefully in the form of written instructions and formulas, or made into tangible physical products.

The said immortals would first have to build a method for writing (in order to save the information), which appears almost impossible, considering they have no need for communication with anyone else. The variables are near infinite, but I can sketch a general outline of evolution for these beings.

1- The first step of technological evolution would be discovery. Discovery of physical aspects of their surroundings. I have no idea how long the immortals would take to get a complete understanding of the physical aspects of their surroundings (what is fire, where does light comes from, which plants are poisonous etc).

2- The second step would be understanding how to manipulate the physical properties of objects to their own advantage. Using wood to construct bow and arrows, using tree barks as rudimentary paper etc.

3- Now would begin an extremely long and tedious process of gradual technological advancement. Refining ores, making glass, purifying chemicals found in trees and animals etc.

4- And their technological growth would be stuck here for all I can think. They would not be able to take the next step forward (understanding electricity, magnetism etc) because such things have a whole network of scientists behind their understanding. Considering the immortals have a personality (which is limited, as in, they behave as one person, not a group of different people), they would never be able to discover all aspects of the scientific laws and their progress would be stalled at stage 3.


I'm of the opinion that they wouldn't advance much. Not unless their planet has mortal intelligent life as well.

I base this off of Max Planck's observation:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

The problem is that we biological creatures have a tendency to get set in our ways. During our youth our brains are very plastic and gear themselves toward figuring out how the world works. But once we think we have that figured out we change our view of the universe very slowly, if at all.

So I would posit that if you placed only one immortal being on the planet, and his or her brain otherwise worked like a normal human's does, then it is quite likely most of those beings will still think their planets are flat the day its sun goes nova.

Being mortal is a feature of our species, not a bug.

I would also suggest taking a look at the essay I, Pencil, which suggests that not only could a single immortal not build himself a spaceship by himself, he probably couldn't even build himself a pencil.

In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.

It takes an entire society to make even something so common and simple as a pencil.

  • $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo - Why would they bother to travel? Why not just find a spot that works for you and stay there? There's no other intelligent being to compete with them for resources, so the only reason they'd need to move would be due to the ecosystem changing, and that wouldn't happen that quickly with only one of him. $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Feb 13 '16 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo - That last bit I agree with. Our immortals will be forced to move when some kind of external event or ecological change causes their current local to no longer support them as well as they'd like. All kinds of things can cause that. Heck, every now and then a meteor is likely to hit somewhere inconvenient. Planets are around a long time. However, one thing that won't be causing it is over-harvesting by only one immortal, and another that won't is competition from other immortals. Those have been the 2 primary drivers of migration in human history. $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Feb 13 '16 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo - The first part is just wrong though. Even today the vast majority of the Human race lives and dies within a few miles of where they were born. For neolithic men, it was something like 90%. Take away our modern travel conveniences, and any competition for resources from other tribes, and almost nobody would ever move once they found a suitable place to live. $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Feb 13 '16 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo - Who knows? We don't have any such people to compare from. For all we know, a typical immortal will pull a Zardoz and amuse themselves only by baking bread trying to find ways to off themselves. $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Feb 14 '16 at 14:39

I think it is possible for a single individual to develop advanced technology as long as the individual was immortal. If you had infinite time, you most likely could derive advanced mathematics and machines. You'd simply have nothing else to do. This question reminds me of https://xkcd.com/505/. Also, there are examples of people deriving advanced math without a lot of outside help, i.e. Ramanujan. So, to sum it up, nothing would be out of reach for an person with unlimited lifespan.

  • $\begingroup$ You are forgetting that Ramanujan derived some advanced mathematics, but did he also have advanced physics or chemistry skills? No, he did not. Our technological development has been made possible by thousands of individuals, each skilled in a different field of technology. There is a thing as natural tendency. While one immortal might have high mathematics inclination, he would be very much bored by the thought of chemical equations or thinking about electromagnetism. Plus, remember that our tech advancement owes a lot to written information. An immortal is highly unlikely to evolve it. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Feb 12 '16 at 22:51

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