02 April 2013

FWS Topics: Where the Frak Are All The Aliens?





There 200-400 billions stars in our galaxy alone, with eighty billion galaxies making up all corners of our known universe, and we are told, by the Drake Equation, that even at the barely minimum, live is out there, in the Milky Way, a number alien civilizations should be out there. Even if the Drake Equation is an overly simplification, among all those exo-solar planets, some should have life, there should be some of those, with intelligent life. So, where are these aliens? Why haven't Klaatu and Gort made an appearance in D.C. and met President Obama? Why are the stars quiet? Are we really alone? During a lunch break in 1950 at Los Alamos Labs in New Mexico, Dr. Enrico Fermi exclaimed during a discussion about life among the stars, "where are they?" That sparked the Fermi Paradox. Recently, io9.com posted an article on some of the answers to the Fermi Paradox, and while it was interesting, I decided to take on the subject, with some humor injected as well. Before we begin, bear in mind, that I am a believer in ET life among the stars, I am also a believer in UFO contact in the past and in the present. No, I don't own a foil hat, or the complete X-Files on DVD, but I do believe, I did watch that show back-in-the-day, and have been the Roswell crash site. However, I just don't believe in everything that gets thrown around.I did attend university, earned a degree in history, with a minor in science and language, and was very close to a minor in literature, and while I reject a great deal of the oddball UFO stories, there is evidence to suggest ancient and present contact. Maybe our great burning question will be answered when we actually put boots down the deserts of Mars, or it was answered when Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface in 1969.

1. They're All Toasters or Dead
It is a common theme in science fiction works that cybernetic life is the next step in evolution. From Battlestar Galactic, Mass Effect, Captain Power,and the Cybermen from the classic Dr.Who, there has been a conflict being the flesh and the metal. This could be the answer behind why the Great Silence exist...biological life reaches an apex of development, then the species choose, or is made to choose, to convert to be cybernetic. If this the path of the sentient races near us, it is likely that these borg-like beings wouldn't want anything to do with our primitive fleshy species. Then there is the other side of the coin, a species reaches a point in their technological development, and destroys themselves either through war, ecological destruction, or biological plague. Or even what happened to the dinosaurs could be more common than here on Terra. Perhaps, extinction level events has prevented more species from climbing up the evolutionary ladder (The Great Filter). There could cycles to civilization, much like the fall of Rome or how humanity is shown in the HALO Forerunner trilogy prior to the firing of the rings.    


2. The Wow! Signals Are Still Incoming
When I learned in school that the stars we see are actually light that was generated thousands or millions of years ago, it tripped me out, but this could explain why we have yet to pick up an hard Wow! signal, save for the one in 1977 and the 2003 SHGb02+14a radio source. The signal could just be taking time to cross the cold gulf of space, or that the alien civilization is not quiet up the technological level to send radio signals out into space, or their religion/government prevents it. There could be a signal incoming, we just have to be patience and remember that there is a massive amount of distance and that light-speed is the universal speed limit, and consider that Earth's radio and TV signals are only detected from about 0.3 light-years away, and an ET 'hello' signal would have be designed for that purpose of interstellar communications.    

3. We Are Really Alone in the Galaxy
When I was about nine, and attending Sunday School at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I asked my Sunday School Teacher if the alien worshiped Jesus? She was dumbfounded, and response with the classic Christian line that there were no aliens and god had made only us, and the entire universe was for us. I pushed her, citing the number of stars in the Milky Way and the number of galaxies in the known universe, because I was that kind of kid, and she told me the same frakking thing. It was not much later that I read the works of Asimov and Herbert that were based around a human-only universe, and since then I've wondered if we Terrans are truly alone in the Milky Way. The Rare Earth Theory goes hand-and-hand with the  Fermi Paradox, stating the conditions for intelligence life and the planetary environments (Goldilocks Zone) are very rare. So rare, in fact, that there may not be any alien civilizations with range for us to hear. Then there is the more scary possibility...the religions of the world are right (in which case, I'm seriously fucked!), and there is a god(s) then they developed all of the known universe for us...little ole us. Scary.        

4. No FTL=No Interstellar Travel
One of the more giant roadblocks for personal alien contact or even alien probes in our solar system, is the massive distances between the stars. If the original 1977 Wow! Signal is correct, and was from an alien civilization, the distance between Sol System and Tau Sagittarii star (where the may have originated from) is 122 light years...and there is no way that we and this civilization could have an interstellar exchange program. Without an sci-fi hyperdrive system, crossing such distances could be impossible, and that more advanced alien civilizations have figure this one out and reminded in their own star system or the nearby stars...and we are not one of them. This could be our fate as well. Humanity in the future could be limited to the nearby stars that are within a few light-years of Terra.      

5. They Are Already Here
One reason for the great silence could be because the aliens are already here, and they could have been here for a long, long time. Depending on what you believe, UFOs and aliens could have been involved with the deployment of our species, and certain supporters of the Ancient Astronaut theory believe that nearly 20,000 year old cave paints depicting paleocontact. Even today, UFOs are still widely seen and that people report abductions, and the History Channel makes cash off this continued mystery. Pick what ever conspiracy you like for this one, because there are a ton of them, but consider this...for aliens to be already here on Terra would mean that there is either an alien space base in our solar system, there is an alien civilization very close by, or that there really is an FTL drive system, or that these alien astronauts have been on their star trek for countless generations to come to Terra...all for our strawberry ice cream.

6. We're a PC and They're a Mac
Unlike what sci-fi projects, communications between us and an alien species would be extremely difficult. Oral communication between two species would more challenging than when explorers locate an tribe of humans that have been isolated from the beginning of time...think more talking with a dolphin. That is why the greeting signals from Terra, like the Arecibo message, and the Voyager probes' Golden Records deal more with symbols and mathematics. There could also be technological differences that do not allow for inter-species communication. While we use primarily radio waves, they could use laser, EM, gravitational, or that we are just talking on the wrong wave length. We could also be receiving signals from an alien intelligence, namely crop circles, and we cannot understand their meaning.        

7. The Galactic Federation Voted 'No' At the Meeting
There is a slim possibility that there is an organization composed of the sentient worlds of our galaxy, like the Federation, and they took a vote, and the result was a 'no' on Terran admission to this galactic federation, and because of this, Terra has been isolated from contact until our behavior improves. This goes alone with the fact alien civilization could be too self-involved with their own issues, like how the US gov't cut NASA human space flight, or even wars to worry about talking with aliens on distant points of light. There could be an disagreement among the alien race on if or when they should talk to us, or that their god(s)  do not wish for  inter-species contact.

8. The 12 Colonies Fell, Dumbass
It is possible that there is an 'hidden' or 'lost' portion of human history that we are not aware of, and we are the aliens, and Terra was the backup plan. As seen in the reboot of Battlestar Galactic, human civilization began on Kobol, then moved to the 12 colonies, while another moved to Earth. Then the 12 Colonies are nuked, and so was the Earth, so the survives arrive here, and mix the DNA, and thus we are the aliens. It could be that the galaxy is an a period of flux, at some other portion of history, the galaxy was teeming with advanced civilizations, and then something happened, like the Flood from HALO, and now, the galaxy is building back up. This could also explain how the 1977 original Wow! signal seem to switch on then off. There could have an armed struggle or even nuclear war that ended the signal prior to mutual communication.

9. This Is Truly A Disturbing Universe
The original io9.com article that got me to thinking about this topic had a number of odd reasons why we have not yet come into contact with alien civilizations. There is the Earth-as-an-Zoo theory, where the aliens have set aside Earth or isolated it for natural technological and sociological development. Then another theory says that all of reality is a grand illusion or simulated reality. Then we look at the Gort theory, where aliens are just waiting for us to frak up and then they will reboot human civilization. Some point to religious text has backup for this theory. Some believe that some non-corporeal lifeform (the Tralfamadorians) that has evolved beyond being a bag of meat and water created our world and lifeform, then stepped back to watch us unfold. That theory remains me of the my favorite Stephen Crane Poem, 'A Man Said to the Universe.'

10, The Galactic Isolationist Policy
Any one that knows the history of contact between the Old and New World could understand why an alien civilization could be wary off communication with another sentient alien species. The sad truth is that 90% of the New World population was wiped by contact with explorers, and the same could be true of inter-species contact by disease or war. After all, there are no more Cro-Magnon, or Neanderthals running around. This policy of isolation from other species was seen in Star Trek via the Prime Directive and the non-interference policy of the Gallifreyan Time Lords after the nuclear holocaust on Minyos. We could receive contact with an advanced alien species when we make some sort of technological or sociological milestone. UFO experts always cite that the number of sighting of UFOs rose remarkably after the invention of the atomic bomb, especially in New Mexico. 

19 comments:

  1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. It was one of those ideas that wouldn't leave alone until I wrote it down

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  2. Being a "religious" guy, I always questioned the whole, "Are we alone, and God's only creation" and more often than not I was told, by folks I trusted, "I don't know, but it would be cool if we were not alone!". Maybe I lucked out and all my teachers and preachers were just closet Trekkies.

    Now that I am older, I generally think that if something is out there, it either hasn't learned to reach out to the stars, doesn't care to reach out, or was wiped off their own planet because, well because mortal beings are just plain old nuts.

    I have always had issue with the whole "aliens are so much better than us poor humans" what if Humanity isn't the baseline, and we are the "normal" guys in the universe, yeah I know pretty arrogant, but whatever..EARTH RULZ!

    In the end, and if and when ET pull up to the job site and asks for a Job application, I guess I am gonna be a overt skeptic, which is silly coming from a "religious" guy. Can a person be an Alien Atheist? What would you call that? Anixeno? pfft, I am no english scholar, me can hardlee rit good. Stoopid American education system...sheesh...or maybe it's 'cause I'm a Arkansan? Did I get off subject?

    Man, your article was thought provoking nonetheless. I love the Science Channel, says the "religious" guy, and eat up every show or article I find about the subject of Alien life, for or against. Old Porky over at theporkster.blogspot.com lead me here, and I glad for it. I will be sure to check in again!

    ERIC!

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  3. I try to keep FWS free of my own political and religious opinions, but when I polled some Nurses at work, most who are Christian, simply stated that xenos cannot exist because their book says so or doesn't, as the case may be, so I including that here, and if that is true, it would be an interesting universe. But me personally, I cannot believe that the entire known universe was just created for us...especially when considering the limits of light-speed space travel.
    I've never understood why aliens mostly shown in sci-fi has been superior to us? That's why AVATAR was a nice change of pace.
    If you're into alien life, check out the Discovery Channel's Alien Planet...the whole thing is on youtube and worth a watch.
    And don't worry about not being English Scholar...because I'm straight out of Oklahoma!
    Thanks for reading, commenting and welcome to FWS! Oh, and thank Old Porky for me!

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  4. I would haft to agree with you William there is life out there. If we are the only life in this universe, (consider how massive it is) it would be a massive waste of space.

    When a religious person tells me that we are the only life god created, (so many times) I think to that babylon 5 episode where the monks come to live on the station. I quote "with all these other races on distance worlds,would he abandon them, our revile himself in some other way. God goes by many names, perhaps some are alien sounding, different faces and histories, but all describing the same creator." end quote. When I think about it I remember the Vulcan saying "infinite diversity in infinite combinations" which is perfect description for our world, as well as our universe.

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  5. Nothing like combining the IDIC and B5! I've said before and I'll say it again, FWS has some of the smartest readers on the internet!
    Mary Dora Russell's The Sparrow covers this quite well, and should be on every sci-fi readers' list.

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  6. It is my view that sentient technological civilization is actually quite rare. After all in the 4.6 Billion years of Earth's history it has only arisen once. Furthermore it is a very fragile thing. Humanity has come close to extinction in the past(be it due to ice age, asteroids, plagues or the threat of nuclear war.) Combined with the potentially short timespan for a spacefaring civilization (had we wiped ourselves out in the Cuban Missile Crisis we would have been 'spacefaring', and that is using a pretty loose definition of the term, for less than a decade) and the distances involved as well as the fact that civilizations can choose to stay at home (the Chinese did after all) and it becomes quite easy to see that the universe could during its lifetime have quite a few sentient technological civilizations but none of them actually communicate.
    In order to communicate with an ET there needs to be at least one other civilization capable and willing relatively close to us at the same time as we are willing and capable. Those are pretty long odds.

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  7. They are Powerball lottery odds, and you 100% correct Thomas, we were nearly wiped out several time. About 70,000 years ago, there were less than 2,000 of us, but of course the grey aliens saved us...just kidding.
    As Arthur C. Clarke once said, 'Apes and Angels' for ET races...

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  8. Christopher PhoenixApril 7, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Haha, the old Fermi Paradox. I'm not entirely sure if there is a paradox, because the whole idea is based on the concept that we can be ABSOLUTELY sure that no alien spacecraft have visited Earth past or present. Humans have only had recorded history for about 5,000 years, for most of that time an extraterrestrial visit would have been described in terms of the supernatural, and we would have been incapable of identifying an interloping spaceship or probe until the mid-20th century. A space probe the size of a Toyota would most likely go unnoticed in interplanetary space, even now. Nor do we know what signals other civilizations may be sending, what wavelengths they use, or how directional these signals are- we could be in the middle of a large conversation and never intercept the signals.

    The "Fermi Paradox" really has to do with interstellar travel. Freeman Dyson's work on the hypothetical interstellar versions of the Project Orion nuclear pulse craft showed that if thermonuclear weapons take over from chemical propellents as an energy source of long range space travel, after 200 years of continuing economic growth we may be in the position to launch (rather slow) starships. And, if us 20th century primitives can come up with preliminary ideas for ways to travel to the stars, undoubtedly alien civilizations thousands of years more advanced than us could also find ways, probably better ways.

    Astronomers estimate the galaxy is about 14 billion years old, give or take 2.4 billion years. Skeletons of anatomically modern humans have been found dating back to a mere 200,000 years ago, we have had recorded history for only about 5,000 years, and the industrial revolution only began in the 19th century!!! In all that time, alien civilizations have had plenty chance to get a major head start on Earth- if an alien civilization persisted, it could many millions of years old or more. Even if space travel were limited to only 5% C or less, such a species would have had time to expand through the entire galaxy in less time than a single galactic rotation (200 million years). Thus the paradox, if incredibly advanced civilizations exist and have had time to spread through the galaxy, where are they? What are they doing? Why have we never seen signs of one? That is the alleged paradox.

    Maybe civilizations don't really last that long compared to the age of the Milky Way, and there are no civilizations interested in contact nearby. Maybe many civilizations stay more or less where they are on space, with relatively few expeditions outward. Maybe the assumption of exponential expansion is incorrect. Maybe they are not interested in us. Maybe we just have been around for so little time, they haven't had time to spot us and visit, even if they have before... we could speculate all day on this, really. XD

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  9. Christopher PhoenixApril 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    In some ways, I find those who use the Fermi Paradox to argue alien life is rare or nonexistent to be very unimaginative. There are literally thousands of reasons you could imagine that we have not met any other civilizations, maybe we haven't looked hard enough- or maybe civilizations are wiped out cyclically by cosmic disasters, and we are in one of the interregnum periods- or maybe they are aware of us, but all we can offer is a developing society for study that is best left undisturbed for observation from afar. Who upon Earth today can know?

    What the Fermi Paradox tells us is that we live in a vast galaxy, possibly inhabited by uncountable strange beings, and that life on Earth is part of a history as yet unknown to us. We are only just becoming aware of the other worlds of the cosmos, we are literally an infant civilization. Star civilizations may flourish, separated by vast gulfs of space and time, there maybe civilizations out there for whom the discovery of other planets and the dawn of interstellar travel is ancient history- or even forgotten.

    Speaking of that, there are a bunch of SF stories that assume there is a lost portion of human history in which we were a much higher civilization than today. Michael Shaara's short story "All the Way Back" (1952) comes to mind, and Ray Bradbury's "The City" has a similar theme. It does not make sense to say that humans came from some other planet, since we would not be so closely related to the other creatures on this planet (chimps, anyone?). You could argue that in the 200,000 years we have been around, there was time for an advanced civilization to arise and fall- but we should see signs of it (like finding the hulks of spaceships in Africa instead of stone tools). XD

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  10. You are correct, Mr. Phoenix, an alien civilization could well have the jump on us by thousands or millions years of development. Especially if an hunk of space rock didn't wipe out their first major lifeforms on their planet. Then our aliens could be more united and committed to space travel and work together than we have...they may have gotten into space for exploration and advance and not for international pride and spite.
    Of course, some believe that there has been an advanced Terran society that did rise and fall.

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  11. Christopher PhoenixApril 12, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    Yep, that is the "apes or angels" argument. It makes a certain amount of sense to think that, considering the millions of years of prehistory on Earth and the rapid technological advancement occurring now, any civilizations we find may have millions of years of more time as an advanced culture and may have developed to some incredibly advanced point. Even for two inhabited planets that formed at the same time, differences in the pattern of great extinctions and the respective histories of the two worlds could mean that one civilization forms millions of years before another, and what of planets that formed long before Earth?

    However, I have a few reservations about this idea- for one thing, it is heavily based on the assumption that we shall develop to some incredibly advanced, possibly post-human state in a few thousand years which lasts indefinitely beyond that (which Arthur C. Clarke apparently believed in). This is a nice idea, but one that is restricted to science fiction novels for the time being- we don't even know how long civilizations last in the cosmos. The angelic, post-human civilization that is over a billion years old could be as fictional as Cthulhu. In this case you can ignore the "angels" and it is just a question of how long a technological civilizations persists in some capacity before it perishes. If all the civilizations from millions of years before have fallen, then we won't encounter them.

    Some novels postulate scenarios that lead to civilizations forming all around the same time, like ancient for-runner aliens seeding planets or giant gamma ray burst events wiping out technological life across the galaxy, forcing life to start over. Or maybe the incredibly advanced civilizations ignore less advanced civilizations while carrying out their own inscrutable activities, like plastering a neutron star with their cerebral cortexes. All while a human starship cruises by obliviously...

    What we are really hampered by is that we know of only one example of intelligent life in the cosmos (us), and pretty much make up our own numbers to feed in the famous Drake Equation- this is not going to find us out anything, really.

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  12. Christopher PhoenixApril 12, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Another thing that bothers me about the "apes and angels" thing is that it seems to hold to the common misinterpretation of evolutionary theory as saying that life proceeds from less evolved organisms to more evolved, and thus superior organisms (obviously humans were considered the prime candidate for these mythical creatures, before "angels" at least). Remember those little pictures showing some ape-like human ancestor becoming erect and using tools and then becoming a modern man, demonstrating the rise from a primitive state to the pinnacle of evolution (i.e. the man with the pointy stick!). That is not how evolution works at all.

    What Darwin really said was that organisms that have the best adaptions for their immediate surrounding environment tend to be those who succeed in surviving long enough to mate and pass their traits to offspring, and that this "natural selection" leads to slow change over generations. Value judgements never enter into it, in fact, a creature that is perfectly adapted to one environment may die in short order in another.

    For example, a fish could be well adapted to living in a pond, and be out-breeding some lungfish that try to live in the same pond. Say a dry spell comes, and the pond begins to dry up, the "superior" fish is now in trouble but the lungfish can crawl over the drying mud to the next muddy pool, and survive to pass on their traits while the erstwhile superior fish dies in a drying pond. Such little accidents make up our evolution.

    In some people's minds, the "posthuman" is the next stage beyond human on our little diagram. But it still carries the old "pinnacle of evolution" baggage. The question of reaching other suns is one of surviving and adapting, not one of striving for some nebulous "perfection". If we become cyborgs along the way it will not to be attain the next "level" on our diagram but simply because that particular adaption serves us best on our journey.

    My point, really, is that a species can't "optimize" itself to be the pinnacle of evolution because there is no optimization that works for all environments. Diversity is important as well, since monocultures do not thrive, either- and most successful species eventually branch into several new species.

    At this point, though, I am targeting transhumanist ideals (which do intrude on speculations about alien civilizations) more than I am discussing the Fermi Paradox though...

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  13. Christopher PhoenixApril 12, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    By the way, William, if you are interested in the early shaping of Asimov's work, the short story collection "The Early Asimov" has some interesting tidbits written by Asimov himself- although the stories are really bad in many places (I didn't finish it, to be honest).

    It turns out, the reason why Asimov didn't include any aliens in "Foundation" was not because he was trying to invent the human-only galaxy or lacked the imagination to come up with aliens. The editor of Astounding (which later became Analog) at that time was John W. Campbell, who became Asimov's personal friend and helped him refine his writing. But, Campbell insisted that in every story with aliens the humans have some superior quality to the aliens, like intelligence or ferocity or whatever.

    He went so far as to modify passages in Asimov short story "Homo Sol" to talk more about how superior the humans are to the aliens, which annoyed Asimov (he hated having his work changed without him being told). Since Asimov didn't want to put this content in his work, but he also wanted to be published in Astounding and not clash with his friend, he decided to not write stories with aliens in them!!

    There you have it. Asimov even said that he thinks it far more likely that there are all kinds of aliens out their in the galaxy, it was simply to get his stories published without any arguments with Campbell. I thought that was pretty interesting, actually- it puts a new perspective on the old fiction, a lot of decisions didn't have to do with speculation but just getting the story written and published!!

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  14. I agree that the whole 'apes and angels'...it bothers me as well, along with the thought that humans will progress biological to a state of being Q. Humans look and act the way that the environment determined...and what would led to godhood? I think becoming transhuman is via technology that stress and forces within the natural environment that we are destroying.
    Campbell's POV on aliens is very interesting, and I would love to know why he thought that way. Any species has + and - of their biological makeup...while I love cats over dogs, I do acknowledge the superior of dogs in some, or even few areas when compared to my beloved felines.
    Asimov was a smart man, far smarter than I, and he knew how to play the game. I would have loved to have spend time with Asimov and Campbell and Herbert...powerful minds.

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  15. Christopher PhoenixApril 13, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    I can easily imagine space civilizations progressing to an intellectual and technological level far advanced beyond ours, to the point they regard us as curiosities. I simply do not agree with the line of thought that says all species will progress to a state of ersatz godhood in which they shall achieve perfection (nebulously defined) by merging with machines, which seems to be becoming ingrained in some people's thinking about alien intelligences.

    And encountering apes would be unlikely by the "Apes and Angels" argument, since the time that the apes are there is very short compared to the millions of years of prehistory. Perhaps a better name would be "Dinosaurs and Supercivilizations"? XD

    As for Campbell's POV- Asimov wrote that he suspected Campbell had such feelings of superiority in relation to whites vs. other races, and they argued about Civil Rights issues a lot, which Campbell taking the more conservative side of the issue. So Asimov thought that the "humans>aliens" thing was a reflection of Campbell's real world racial bias, and Asimov preferred to avoid the matter.

    One the SF author I would love to have spent time with is Stanislaw Lem. His thinking on interstellar space travel and its implications for the astronauts and society are fascinating and diverge heavily from the speculations of western authors. Have you ever read Lem's novel "Return from the Stars"- the tale of a cosmonaut who returns to Earth after a 127 year long flight to Fomalhaut and finding his home planet to be completely different from what he left? I rather liked that one...

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  16. Like the Dinosaurs and Super-civilizations line much better than Apes vs. Angels!
    That is a shame about Campbell, I've always found that racism and sci-f don't mix. I wish I could have known and talked with Asimov, what a mind he had, what stories and thoughts rumbled around. He had more talent in his fingers than I have in the whole of my body.
    I will add "Return from the Stars" for the upcoming Time Dilation blogpost...I read Solaris and saw both film versions, and the 2002 version haunted me for days, and the Russian actress who played in the classic 1972 Soviet film, Natalya Bondarchuk was very hot back in the day.

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  17. Christopher PhoenixApril 15, 2013 at 2:37 AM

    Yeah, and it is a bit unusual thinking of the editor of famous SF magazines as having a racial bias. I grew up with stories like Ray Bradbury's "Way in the Middle of the Air" and "The Other Foot", not to mention Star Trek, so the SF I was reading/watching was always showing more than one POV and quietly promoting racial equality. I also suspect that having the white guys kick alien ass and prove their superiority was juvenile wish fulfillment on Campbell's part.

    If you want to see a riot of ideas that makes most other SF seem pretty ordinary in comparison try Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men" (1930) and "Star Maker" (1937)- these aren't stories so much as future histories full of bizarre ideas about the future evolution of man, pantropy (adapting humans to another planetary environment by genetic modification), bizarre aliens, interstellar arks... there are a lot of interesting ideas in those books, and they were influences on C.S. Lewis (who criticized the idea of humans escaping from Earth by colonizing another planet as satanic) and Arthur C. Clarke.

    Be sure to get the relativity theory right in the Time Dilation blogpost, I've seem people get it badly badly wrong in SF novels and popular science articles. It is hard to really get an understanding of time dilation etc. without some physics background and the math, but fortunately SR only calls for algebra, not calculus like GR does.

    The basic gist of the deal is that the speed of light is invariant in all reference frames (whether you measure the speed of a beam of light on the Earth or on a rocket traveling 99% the speed of light relative to the Earth, you still get 299792458 m/s), and spaceship traveling at a significant fraction of the speed of light on a voyage to the stars will experience less time passing than an observer on Earth (but the effect doesn't become pronounced except at extreme relativistic speeds), and the spaceship will also be seen to contract in length- but you will experience none of this if you are in the same reference frame of the ship (i.e. on board or floating alongside). Oh, yes, and no object with rest mass can be accelerated to the speed of light or faster- as it goes faster, the relativistic effects of time dilation and length contraction makes its subsequent acceleration grow ever smaller as it approaches C. It is like the Red Queen's race.

    We have no theory to describe what will happen if you move at FTL velocities, so nothing we say about time dilation necessarily applies for imaginary space warps or hyperspace- although SR does imply time travel and causality violations will result from FTL trips, but this just makes physicists cling tighter to the argument that FTL travel is impossible forever. XD

    Speaking of star travel, relativity, and hot women- have you seen the old Czechoslovakian SF film Ikarie XB-1 (1963)? Really cool early SF film with an intricate story and some cool scenes, the exploration of a 20th century spaceship is one of the highlights of the film- the Americans are not portrayed in a very favorable light. XD It was uploaded to youtube, you can see it on there right now.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph9n5F7SipY

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  18. Nothing in the bible forbids life beyond our earth, there is many conceptions about Christianity and its role in the universe. The father can create life on one earth he can also do it on others as his own well. In the beginning there was darkness space, then god made the earth.

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