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Is it easy to tell a live seed from a dead seed, or either from a grain of sand?
For that matter, is it always easy to tell whether a man is merely unconscious or quite dead?
We can not only communicate, Trade, and fight, but form joint business ventures, cheat each other at cards, and even fall in love.
Indeed, Aliens with Forehead Ridges raise a profound question in evolutionary biology.
However, Aliens with Forehead Ridges continue to thrive in Hollywood Scifi. In casual encounters with the material universe, we rarely feel any difficulty here, since we usually deal with things that are clearly alive, such as a dog or a rattlesnake; or with things that are clearly nonalive, such as a brick or a typewriter.
This is for an obvious reason: the audience wants aliens of One of the first ways in which we learn to classify objects is into two groups: 1. Nevertheless, the task of defining "life" is both difficult and subtle; something that at once becomes evident if we stop to think. The caterpillar is alive, but the rock is not; as you guess at once, since the caterpillar is moving and the rock is not.
The "science" is called Astrobiology, the famous "science in search of a subject". You can keep up on the latest news, but for now if you want aliens, you are going to have to create them yourself.
Suggested reading includes The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction's entry on "Aliens", Steve Colgan's Worlds of Possibility blog, Life Everywhere by David Darling, The Science of Aliens by Clifford Pickover and Aliens and Alien Societies by Stanley Schmidt.[first use unknown, but goes back at least to 1940s]General SF term for an extraterrestrial or alien possessing human-level intelligence (see sophont).
The water in motion would be alive, but the motionless tree trunk would be.A particular race of Aliens with Forehead Ridges may all have a culture like that of medieval Japan, or one based entirely on music, but you will very rarely find more than one culture per species.(The Vulcans and Romulans of Trek fame are a rare exception.)Because of the similarity (or at least comprehensibility) of cultures, Earth Humans can have far more complex and intimate relations with Aliens with Forehead Ridges than with Really Aliens.(Or else Earth Humans are descended from them, though this raises troublesome questions about chimpanzees.)Perhaps because of these awkward issues, Aliens with Forehead Ridges have become much less common in written SF (save for media tie-ins) than they were some decades ago.
In written SF, the KNOWN GALAXY seems increasingly to be inhabited only by Earth Humans.Only rarely will anybody get to know one on a personal level.