I found this neat article today, whose premise I don't know if I can stand behind. I'm not sure what I think about the scientific underlying of letterforms throughout humanity's history. I tend to think that writing systems look similar because of their historical evolution,* not because of some tendancies of how humans see the world around them. But then again, I always liked history more than science when I was at school ;-)
Anyway, this line stuck me in particular, because it seems to support one of Hrant's theses (if I understand him correctly…):
The shapes of letters are not dictated by the ease of writing them, economy of pen strokes and so on, but their underlying familiarity and the ease of recognising them.
* Weren't a lot of writing systems simply "invented"? And moreover, weren't they invented by people who were already familiar with at least one other writing system?
And this paragarph is just too rich not to cite:
There is a cosmic dimension to this study. Dr Changizi speculates that if there is intelligent alien life in the universe, then so long as these creatures live, like us, among "macroscopic opaque objects strewn about", they will evolve writing symbols like our own. Alphabets on a planet orbiting another sun will, if materials, light and shade are similar to our own world, have features in common with those used on Earth: if ET writes home, we may think there is something familiar about his handwriting.