NPR posted an article on January 19th about radio signals detected by astronomers around the globe that may come from beyond our galaxy. This is really exciting for a lot of reasons, many of which are outlined in the aforementioned article. What I took away was the quote from EarthSky:
“…the burst originated up to 5.5 billion light-years from Earth. If that is indeed the case, then the sources of these bursts must be extremely powerful.”
There are any number of possible sources, but the one my mind immediately jumps to (of course) is aliens. Those of you know me will not be surprised by this hypothesis. I believe in the existence of aliens the way some people have faith that Diet Coke will solve all their weight loss issues (yes, I’m aware of how that reads).
My opinion on whether they have visited us before sways back and forth. One the one hand, extraterrestrial interference could solve a lot of mysteries. On the other hand, people who wander the back roads of this world are always the first to get taken and probed. Moonshine isn’t a stable substance, folks.
But my favourite theory on why they haven’t visited us yet is that they are a long, long way away, which is probably a very good thing. I don’t necessarily think any alien visitors we might have will be bent on either destruction or benevolent dictatorship. More, I think they’ll be curious—in thought and aspect. They will be weird and different. They’ll think we’re very weird and different.
They might think we’re weird enough to avoid.
Of course, I also have theories on why they might think this—and why they’re avoiding us. Most of these can be summed up in a simple phrase:
We’re not ready.
If our radio signals are out there, bouncing around the stars, then the aliens have seen America’s Funniest Home Videos. Worse, they’ve seen The World’s Dumbest Somethingorother. If they don’t think our planet is populated by cats in boxes and dogs howling in tune to…is that music…then they think we’re a race of clumsy bipeds who like to show off our worst accidents. The more cringe-worthy the better.
As they draw close enough to actually spy on us from their cloaked (for their protection, not ours) vessels, they will observe us jumping on trampolines—rising and falling pointlessly, over and over and over again. They’ve seen me fall down the stairs, then fall up the stairs. They’ve watched kids sit on round things and hurtle down ice-covered hills and into snow drifts. I could go on and on describing all the folly they have witnessed, but I think you get the point. We’re so amused by our own stupidity that we televise it. No wonder we haven’t made it out of the solar system yet—not in person, anyway.
They might be impressed by our technology. I am, constantly. And they might find our imagination both worthy and disturbing.
What if these fast radio bursts are episodes of Andromeda’s Funniest Home Videos? Would we go visit a planet where large, insectoid beings rolled themselves into little balls only to be launched from cannons? Would we think large detonations were fireworks or war? Perhaps the only way they know how to navigate stairs is to fall up them—or maybe they don’t have stairs. Maybe they teleport from place to place and, if they’re not careful, they end up embedded inside stuff, like walls, or giant sponge cakes. Or maybe they do that on purpose. Who knows!
Either way, it’s all exciting and thought provoking, eh?
Featured image is: M31: The Andromeda Galaxy
Credit & Copyright: Lorenzo Comolli