Monthly Archives: April 2012

How would humans respond to alien visitors?

In the Star Trek universe, the people of Earth first make contact with an alien civilization (Vulcans, in fact) on April 5, 2063, 51 years from today. Marc Kaufman, who is a science writer for the Washington Post and author of the book First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for life Beyond Earth, shares his thoughts on how humans might respond to meeting intelligent extraterrestrial life for the first time.

“On one level, I’d hope there would be a huge amount of wonder and awe and a recognition of the vastness of the Universe. But I also imagine there would be a lot of defensiveness, as well,” said Kaufman, referring to some, like Stephen Hawking, who say we shouldn’t send messages out into space — because if a more technically advanced civilization comes to Earth, the outcome for the less advanced (us) would likely be bad.

But Kaufman has hope that Earthlings would welcome a visit.

“Look at the continuing fascination of Roswell or UFOs,” he said. “Throughout history, humans have looked to the skies and thought that we’ve experienced something ‘out there’ – be it angels or gods or spaceships. There is, I believe, a deep human craving that we aren’t alone, and that would be a significant part of our response.”

Plasma fusion becomes a reality

Scientists are saying that they are close to a major breakthrough in the field of plasma fusion that will allow for unlimited cheap, clean and safe energy. I’m still waiting on my Mr. Fusion engine in a car. According to Back to the Future, it’ll be available in DeLoreans by 2015. I think these guys are going to build it.

Could sentient living planets exist?

Living planets, the type of which have a global consciousness, is a popular science fiction subject. Living planets are described as being autonomous from other life that may be living on it, and in some cases, intelligent. Could planets evolve to have the type of life found in the flora and fauna of the fictional moon Pandora, from Avatar, where interconnected trees act like a unified brain for the planet itself? Experts seem to find it unlikely, for a number of reasons.

Virtually no conceivable mechanism, nor motive, would allow for the development of planet-size intelligent, biological beings.

The closest thing that might resemble a sort of conscious planet would be a collective consciousness of other entities that live upon it, for example single large ant colony acting with “hive mind”. However, the mechanism by which a colony of that size would communicate on a global scale is likewise difficult to imagine.