Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: April 27, 2010 Archive

Stop Sending Signals!

Posted at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2010 by Dale Connelly (24 Comments)
Filed under: Time & Space

Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking wonders in a new Discovery Channel series if our efforts to make contact with space aliens might prove to be counter-productive. Hawking imagines the aliens we find might be highly technological resource wasters who only want to suck planets dry and move on to the next.

Hey, that sounds like us!

In a three minute version of Hawking's scenario, the voracious invaders travel in gigantic spacecraft from very, very far away through an intergalactic wormhole. Then they plunder our planet and steal energy from our sun so they can build more cool ships and continue to rock and roll.

This REALLY sounds like us.

From this fantasy we can deduce two things about the widely acclaimed Dr. Hawking.

One - scientific brilliance doesn't automatically enable you to write a screenplay that's better than the typical Hollywood fare.

Two - he does not have what it takes to imagine an invading force as nuanced as the wierdly threatening yet thoroughly lovable Goats From Space.

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But Stephen Hawking's version of a potential future catastrophe must be seriously considered. From all the universe, why would homeless space invaders choose to come after us?

Because their alien appetite for conquest is inflamed by the broadcasts that have just arrived at their end of the universe - stuff innocently sent out in the '50's and '60's that's now defining us for the creatures "out there". From episodes of "I Love Lucy" they learn that we are scatterbrained and technologically inept because we can't successfully interface with a simple conveyor belt. We're also overburdened with precious resources (chocolate, Latin music), and hopelessly naive. We think the worst thing that can happen is that Ricky will stay mad at us. (OK, Hawking didn't include this in his scenario, but even the greatest minds need an occasional assist).

So out of the wormhole they come in a massive armada, making short work of us and leaving our planet a ruined husk orbiting a drained cinder of a sun. Yikes!

And yet we continue to try to make contact! Everything that is broadcast goes out there and represents us to our potential conquerors. Should we be sending different, more threatening signals like a puffer fish does in order to appear bigger and more formidable? Could that work? Or should we send signals that depict our planet as a ridiculous and pathetic waste of time?

Oh wait, we already did that when we broadcast The Jerry Springer Show.

But seriously, most of us aren't watching TV anymore anyway. Shouldn't the FCC insist that broadcasters program for the most important audience we have?

How would you keep Stephen Hawking's nasty aliens away?

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