Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Get me my tinfoil hat.

Back when I was a kid, I remember riding the bus home from school, just looking out of the window and daydreaming when I suddenly heard three kids from a few years above talking.

"Well, at least we know there's no such thing as aliens." Said one kid, the sentence instantly grabbing my attention. "Fact."

"How do you know?" Said another.

"It's obvious." Said the first kid. "If there's aliens flying around in space, how come they've never visited us?"

At this point, before I knew what I was doing (I tend to automatically react to bullshit), I said: "That's not proof. You could ask why we've never visited them."

Then, the three assholes laughed and took the piss for the rest of the ride home. Obviously we didn't visit them, because we're not aliens.

***

You see, I believe in aliens…and that's a hard thing to admit without instantly looking like a tinfoil hat wearing lunatic…so let me explain myself.

I don't believe in aliens so much as I believe in the possibility of aliens. Given that there's an estimated 100 billion stars in our galaxy and around 100 billion galaxies in the known universe, many of which are around sixty-thousand times the size of our own…that comes to an estimated 1 septillion stars (that's a 1 with twenty four zeroes)…I find the odds that we're alone in the universe to be pretty slim.

For example, if we assumed that the chances of life forming in a solar system are one in a billion, and then assumed that the chances of that life being intelligent is also one in a billion…that still means there's a million possible intelligent civilizations out there somewhere…and that's just in the observable universe.

The problem is that when anyone mentions aliens, we tend to automatically think of little green men zooming around in flying saucers. The point I tried (and failed) to make with the kid on the bus is that no-one ever thinks that an alien civilization could be actually less technologically advanced than we are. Maybe the nearest alien civilization hasn't even invented the steam-engine yet. Maybe they're still living in caves. Hell, maybe they haven't evolved beyond single-celled organisms yet.

Do I believe aliens have ever visited earth?

In a word, no. That really is the domain of the tinfoil hat crowd.

But let's get philosophical for a moment. Let's assume for a moment that the universe is absolutely teeming with life. Let's assume that lifeless solar systems are the exception and not the rule. Let's also assume that the majority of life in the universe has discovered a way to break the light barrier and travelling the massive distances between stars is as easy for them as driving to the store is for us.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a civilization that intelligent and that advanced…do you honestly believe they'd even consider setting foot on our planet or landing and declaring themselves?

I don't.

2 comments:

Bee said...

Any civilisation technologically advanced enough to break light speed has probably mastered a method of intercepting satellite transmissions from other worlds, seen enough alien invasion movies to get the gist of how we would 'welcome' them and said, quite rightly, 'f**k that'.

Evan 08 said...

I generally agree with what you're saying. To paraphrase the movie Contact, the universe would be a lonely place if we were the only inhabitants.