Apr 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm #1257720
My high school students were hounding me about aliens today, trying to get my opinion on what I would do if we were invaded by a race looking to exterminate us. They suggested we maintain global nuclear stockpiles for this purpose, just in case. But I don't think we could even launch a nuclear attack against aliens…Unfortunately, I had to shoot them down on these highly scientific grounds:
If this race has the ability to travel the galaxy/universe on spacecraft (and are able to solve the technological and physics-related issues associated with high-speed deep space travel), suffice to say they've probably got near infinite energy sources or, to say the very least, technologies that would make us look like amoebae.
Thus their weaponry would likely be something we have never seen: I figure the likelihood of them using any sort of "conventional" solid projectiles would be slim: I'm thinking chemical and biological, lasers, plasma, microwaves, sound waves, EMPs, electricity, nuclear energy, etc.
I suspect we wouldn't have a chance or the ability to fight…
Why wouldn't they simply fry all life here with a giant microwave from space, a nuclear attack, a supervirus, radiation…?
…Unless they were coming to enslave us and needed us alive. Damn, now that changes everything.
…Or unless they only wanted to exterminate humans but keep other species intact. In this case, disabling our electronics with some sort of EMP attack would be the smartest first step. But maybe I'm still thtinking like a human and even a super-EMP is crude to them…
Man, I love teaching….Apr 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm #1597963
Obama would meet with them and they would be our friends!Apr 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm #1597975Apr 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm #1597979
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
1. If they come to us first — then their technology is likely more advanced then ours.
2. Until we have technology that is advanced enough for inter-stellar travel — it is PLAIN STUPID to keep broadcasting ourselves out to space.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm #1597983
Some ufo researchers subscribe to the "Ant Hill Theory." That says that any race of beings with those capabilities and thousands or even millions of years ahead of us, technologically, wouldn't bother to even acknowledge our existence. They would simply kill us all. They would step on us with the same lack of regard that we have when we step on ant hills… Ahem… I don't like that theory.
Ben – The Ant Hill Theory is why some people feel like you do.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm #1597985
@nerdboy52Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
We get this question (and all its variations) all the time at the public programs at the observatory where I work.
Short answer: The distance between our sun and any given star is too great for any civilization, even an advanced one, to traverse the distance. We're talking the laws of physics here. The universe may be teeming with intelligent life, but we will never have any direct contact with it. Hence, the problem doesn't exist.
StargazerApr 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm #1597988
If they have a technology sufficiently advanced to make interstellar voyages, why wouold they want to invade us? It's not like they would find our planet more desirable than 'home'. They gravity would be different, the length of day would be different, ambient temperature different, etc etc.
For a great, funny, and thought provoking read, I highly recommend the novel 'The Sykaos Papers' written by famous historian E.P. Thompson before his death. He is most famous for his ground breaking work 'The making of the English working class', which propelled him to a professorship at Oxford. The Sykaos Papers was his chance to cut loose and create an allegorical and insightful narrative about an alien visiting Earth which explains the paranoia and pathos of the human condition.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm #1597989
I met a JPL scientist who told me they are working on "folding" space. They theorize that it is possible and that it will give us access it anywhere in universe we wnat to travel. I don't know how far along they are. Of course that's classified. But he swears it's do-able.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm #1597990
Kendall, he has been reading Frank Herbert's 'Dune' a bit too much I reckon.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:16 pm #1597996
Hahaha… Rog, you may be right, but those JPL/NASA scientists are a hell of a lot smarter than I'll ever be.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm #1598008
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
"Short answer: The distance between our sun and any given star is too great for any civilization, even an advanced one, to traverse the distance. We're talking the laws of physics here. The universe may be teeming with intelligent life, but we will never have any direct contact with it. Hence, the problem doesn't exist."
I don't know if there are other life forms beyond Earth and frankly, I don't spend much time thinking about it.
However, I just don't see how anyone can say definitively whether there is or there isn't — and if there is — that they could not possibly be able to travel to us.
Don't be too smug about our scientific knowledge or the so-called "laws" that we understand to date. The head of England's Royal Society — one of the most prominent scientists of his day — had once declared definitively that nothing man-made can ever fly through the air.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm #1598011
And the Royal Society was until recently telling us man was definitely responsible for global warming too. But it all seems to have gone very quiet on that front recently…
Alien invasion, thermageddon, so many things to worry about…Apr 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm #1598016
@nerdboy52Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
>Don't be too smug about our scientific knowledge or the so-called "laws" that we understand to date. The head of England's Royal Society — one of the most prominent scientists of his day — had once declared definitively that nothing man-made can ever fly through the air.
Logic, my friends. Logic. We're talking Newton and Einstein here. Because one scientist was wrong does not imply that all scientists are wrong. Einstein's relativity principles have been verified by many direct observations and experiments. You can't go faster than light, and as you approach light velocity, you mass increases. To reach light speed, your mass would become infinite, i.e., greater than the mass of the universe, a clear absurdity.
Thus, a relatively short trip of 100 light years would take hundreds of years to make, a lot of trouble to visit puny earthlings. Besides, we haven't had radio communication, which travels at light speed, long enough for aliens to detect our presence.
And besides, they'd have to be looking in just our direction at just the right time. And besides, there are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way. The odds are long indeed that they would be looking at that 1 in 300 billion. And besides, the period that civilizations might be interested in looking might be very short. (We haven't been interested very long ourselves.)
Oh, and by the way, nobody on Earth has heard anything.
Trust me on this one folks. I like science fiction, but this kind of speculation is purely science fiction.
But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. Come on aliens, prove me wrong.
StargazerApr 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm #1598018
But, my friends! We've already got aliens here that tried (still trying?) to take over the human race!Apr 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm #1598019
You don't have to worry about aliens coming here and killing us.
This is because they are already here. We are them.
I have proof.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm #1598020
"To reach light speed, your mass would become infinite, i.e., greater than the mass of the universe, a clear absurdity."
Clear absurdities are usually an indication of wrong conceptualisation. Einstein and Newton may have produced resonably accurate ways of measuring our potentially incorrect assumptions, but this says nothing about the corrrectness or otherwise of the cosmological model.
Having looked at Narlikar's calcs and Arps ideas, I'm keeping an open mind on the ever shifting Hubble 'constant'.Apr 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm #1598021
At this point it is pure speculation, but there are laws of physics that even the most noted admit they don't fully understand. You are right in that traveling at or close to the speed of light is not practical for space travel, however, there are many clever physicists actively working on alternatives one of which I stated earlier. Suggestion: read Dr. Michio Kaku(spelling).Apr 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm #1598024
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> Einstein's relativity principles have been verified by many direct observations
> and experiments. You can't go faster than light, and as you approach light velocity,
> you mass increases. To reach light speed, your mass would become infinite, i.e.,
> greater than the mass of the universe, a clear absurdity.
True almost as far as it goes. BUT do not read too much into this. What Relativity 'prohibits' is accelerating to the speed of light. However, that does not prohibit other means of travel 'through' space. Well, between points A and B, anyhow.
If you could instantly reach a 'speed' above the speed of light you would be OK.
If you could fold space (as mentioned by OP) you would be OK.
If you could twist into another dimension (string theory gives 10 to play with) you would be OK.
It may be science fiction today. But so was the heliocentric universe, so was ether-less transmission of light, so was oxygen, … need I go on?
'Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.'
Roger Caffin (PhD)Apr 14, 2010 at 3:13 pm #1598027
I was going to mention that string theory offers some other possibilities. Although, I'm familiar with it, I'm not so well versed that I could speak on it. String theory is fascinating. And, I agree that what was once considered magic is now a reality. In fact, much of what was once considered science fiction is part of our reality today.Apr 14, 2010 at 3:27 pm #1598033
Man, just when you start a good alien invasion plasma-weaponry time-space-continuum thread, Rog immediately tries to get it steered back to Global Warming and those darn lyin' and cheatin' and connivin' "scientists."
I wonder what the alien overlords will do about gun rights, abortion, religion, the death penalty, horses and dogs in the backcountry, and darn (non-alien) immigrants taking our jobs.Apr 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm #1598036
Now Ben has me scared! I never thought about it, until now, that broadcasting and shooting stuff into space will only HELP them find us FASTER!
Now if they're already amongst us…That changes everything.
(I swear this can be the only rational explanation for so many of the kooks I meet).Apr 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm #1598048
@rosierabbitLocale: Pacific Northwest
I think it was Bill Watterson in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons who said the surest sign intelligent life exists in the universe is that it hasn't tried to contact us.Apr 14, 2010 at 4:03 pm #1598056
Didn't the Spaniards "discover" half of the world while looking for spice?
Perhaps alien travels are simply motivated by interstellar cuisine?Apr 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm #1598073
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Until we have technology that is advanced enough for inter-stellar travel — it is PLAIN STUPID to keep broadcasting ourselves out to space."
Oh yeah. Why advertise the location of the nest??? Beyond stupid, IMO.Apr 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm #1598075
>"Until we have technology that is advanced enough for inter-stellar travel — it is PLAIN STUPID to keep broadcasting ourselves out to space."
>Oh yeah. Why advertise the location of the nest??? Beyond stupid, IMO.
Um, guys…thats why I ALWAYS wear my tin-foil helmet. (its UL too!)
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