Ten Years into the Search for ET and Not a Whisper Yet.
I Have a Sneaking Suspicion
Ten years ago SETI @ home began an innovative program designed to enhance their search for ET's communications among the stars. They decided to harness the power of the idle home computers all over the world to search through data they had received from the time they had spent using radio observatories to listen in on what they hoped would be alien conversations from other worlds. The idea was the brain child of software engineer David Gedye. If you haven't tried it, you should. You receive a small program and a packet of data from the SETI folks when you sign up and set your screen saver to the SETI program. When your computer is idle, it begins crunching radio data from the stars (with a very Sci-Fi visual accompanying the analysis) and when it's done, the program sends the completed analysis back to SETI and retrieves another packet and the process starts all over again. So far, 10 years into the project, there have been a few exciting moments, but no messages from outside our solar system. They promise to keep at it for 100 years if that's what it takes.
Of course, there are those who would say this is a wrongheaded approach. After all they say ET has been visiting Earth regularly. Look at all the reports since the 1940s. Think back to the 1970s if you're old enough and remember the craze over ancient astronauts visiting Mesoamerica, North American Indians, and assisting the Egyptians in the building of the pyramids. Then there's all the people who have missing time and hair-raising tales of alien abductions. What about them? What about that evidence?
Well, I'm skeptical. I'm not calling anyone a liar now, don't get me wrong ... but I doubt ET has come calling. If ET were truly visiting the most heavily armed nation on Earth, don't you think someone would have shot one by now, especially since these alien visitors seem to have a penchant for appearing to hunters out in the deep forests. Surely one alien would have run into someone who shoots at noises if nothing else (I'm not disparaging real, well trained hunters here who I have respect for, but we know there are those out there who shouldn't be). Then there's the abductions. I'm eternally baffled as to why visitors from races who can leap across the light years from distant stars insist on using Earthly, and primitive Earthly, medical equipment when they arrive. What's all this probing business anyway? Surely somebody would at least have the ET equivalent of a CAT scan available, wouldn't they? Frankly, when it comes to alien abductions, I have a single source theory for that, which you can find at J.S. Brooks Presents, along with a challenge for writers of supernatural lit with a penchant for ghost stories (if you look, there's a brand new, never before reported real ghost tale there for the reading). Take a look.
Then there's the intelligence issue, theirs not ours (I'll get to ours later). From the descriptions, these alien visitors are small, grey, skinny creatures with bulbous heads and they are usually described as walking around without any shred of clothing. How smart are you to climb out of your spacecraft into an alien world naked? Especially when your physique suggests that if small, gray, and bulb headed is the pinacle of evolution then the next most ferocious beast on your planet couldn't be much more than a hamster. What does this scrawny little naked dude do when faced with a grizzly bear?
After that, there's communication. We're looking for radio transmissions, correct? How long ago did we discover this form of communication? What improvements have come along since? What will occur in the next hundred years or so? Isn't it possible that radio just isn't the popular form of communication amongst the interstellar set?
Speaking of communication, I think that is the chief reason space-faring races don't come knocking on our door (now I'll speak to our intelligence). We've been sending out our own communications for a long time now. Imagine an interstellar visitor approaching our star system to have a look around. The star is the right sort for life, there's a nice wet planet in the right spot for life, and it's worth a look. Way out in space, before these voyagers even enter the solar system, they begin to run into our transmissions (and for argument's sake we'll say they can recognize them, receive them, and translate them). At first this is exciting. There's life with intelligence on the planet! They quickly translate what's coming in and grow concerned. There are World Wars described and that worries them. Then there's the space program and landing on the moon and that encourages them. And then the computer alarm is tripped. They have picked up reality TV shows in abundance coming from the planet, a sure sign in their experience that the intelligent race on the world below has descended into madness and should be avoided at all cost. The star-faring race shake their heads sadly (providing they have them), adjust course, and looks elsewhere.
NASA's New Horizon spacecraft is heading to Pluto, our demoted ninth planet, now known as the first of the objects classed "Plutoids". I think when New Horizon slides by and takes its first close look they'll find out something surprising. They'll discover Pluto is not a natural body at all, but an alien space buoy. That buoy, circling the outer reaches of our solar system, will be broadcasting to all the ET's out there. The message will be, "These people are nuts. Do not feed. Do not stick your hands, claws, or tentacles inside the cage."
That's my theory and I'm sticking with it until proven wrong. Hopefully SETI and NASA will disprove this theory soon enough. Until then though, we might want to work on the first impression we're making. At this moment there are roughly 24 different wars taking place around the globe, millions are starving, untold numbers have too little food, shelter, clothing or work as they scratch out a living in abject poverty. And we are seriously fouling our nest, the only one we've got, with wild abandon, driving our fellow travelers into extinction as we do it. If we work really hard, maybe someday, we'll be presentable enough to make a good first impression on any out of solar system visitors that might happen to drop by. By that time, of course, at the rate we're going, we may be able to go out there and have a look around for ourselves ... or we might just be extinct ourselves. Here's to hoping for the best, to working for a better tomorrow, and to SETI's next ten years looking for that first signal.
Mr. Spock, where are you?
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