Urgent communique flashed in using Morse code from a weather balloon results in this followup. However, because Island Dweller flashed the Morse code in equally-timed one-second pulses to rub our face in it, the message took a while to decode.
O most enlightened one,
Your posting on UFOs is most interesting, however, it begs the asking of a question basic to the issue.
The aliens involved in a future visit (unless you believe Weekly World News, or whatever they are calling themselves this week, who insist they are already here) will have probably traveled untold parsecs to reach our little section of the galaxy, where they will have managed to pick out our Big Blue Marble from its gaseous and dust-mote-filled surroundings. Unless they just don’t have anything else to do, and are just cruising the galactic main drag in an interstellar version of American Grafitti‘s cruising scene, they will have navigated here. That means they will have intercepted some signal source to guide them to this dust mote we inhabit. Assuming they weren’t tripping over themselves to get here, that means they will have had time to analyze that signal and probably record or observe more of the emissions from our planet. If they have done this – and if they’re so smart – why on earth, or Jupiter, or Alpha Centauri – would they want to come anywhere near this planetful of idiots?
This is answerable, but first, some conditional points.
Lots of us assume that alien buggers will pick up on our radio transmissions and television transmissions and discover we are a functioning, technological planet. Maybe. We have two concerns:
- Other species may not bother with RF-radiation-based communication due to its inherent speed-of-light limited velocities and terrible attenuation. As a result, they might not be remotely listening (in both senses of remote) for our signals, and we might be listening for signals that will never arrive, even though powerful overlords could be just 4.3 light years away. Heck, we didnt discover we can detect naturally occuring radio waves from space until fifty years ago because, well, why bother?
- Even if other species could pick up our transmissions, there is a ridiculous idea that they can listen to our radio broadcasts, watch our television signals, and catch up on our shows. This has been used to comedic effect in the excellent documentary Galaxy Quest, and taken to very serious levels in Contact. But this is hogwash: all our communication is coded or compressed in some fashion:
- In AM radio, the signals are encoded by changing the strength of the signal. WIthout a designed receiver capable of demodulating the signals, you get zippo. Crystal radio sets are easy to build once you know how to demodulate a signal; aliens arent going to have a crystal radio set conveniently sitting on a desk until we send them one.
- FM radio is even worse: information is embedded inside a carrier wave. FM requires significant understanding of Earth-originated encoding keys. Without that information, FM radio is just hiss.
- Digital television and audio is even worse. Bits are embedded in packets. Have you ever (intentionally or accidentally) played a computer disc in a CD player? The clicking, warbling gibberish is all the aliens would hear, too. It takes pre-programmed device to decode the data and reassemble the packets in the correct order.
Bottom line: if aliens used RF antennas and pointed them at the Earth, they would hear a whoosh of static. Something RF-based was going nuts from that solar system, but not necessarily intelligent. Worthy of investigation? Sure, but it aint like theyll be enjoying I Love Lucy in the next few minutes. Or decades: without knowing our conventions of mathematics, aliens might not be able to crack out encoding schemes ever.
So why would they come? Look at things from economics. Why did fleets of Europeans start braving the vast and dangerous distances across the Atlantic Ocean to come to the New World. To help cure natives diseases? To offer them helpful political solutions? To unite their peoples and introduce them to futuristic technological wonders?
|Oh, look, Robby: lights in the sky! Aliens arrive on Earth, Sunday evening, around 8pm.|
|Earth, next Friday, around noon.|
Basically, it was economic. Resources were needed, colonies needed to be established, and everything was for the benefit of the newcomers. Natives? Well, they could certainly be useful for cheap labor, and there were always religions to convert them to, and plenty of horrible diseases were exchanged. This might sound like a college professor harping about the evil White Man and his system of exploitation. But while the Czar believes there was definite progress across human history to New World colonization, the reality is this: the invaders make out much better than the natives, net/net. Ask the Aborigines in Australia, the Koreans about the Japanese, and so on.
No, the leftist wake up call is this: if the aliens come, they wont view us as the Noble Savage. They will view us a hornets nest occupying a new house. Unpleasant, and totally in need of removal.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.