Sometimes I need the cobwebs rattled out of my head. Sometimes you hear someone give a fresh take on a meme that forces you to slap your forehead and cry out, "Damn it! It's so obvious! Why didn't I think of it?" Well, I don't know about everyone else, but it happens to me, anyway. Mine came yesterday during a viewing of G4's Attack of the Show.
Though the lovely Olivia Munn is most fetching, I am not a regular watcher. I had only tuned in for any live updates from San Diego Comic Con. While the updates were serviceable if underwhelming, I was treated to an interview with Dave Brody. Brody is the Science Editor for Space.com and he was on the show to discuss the idea that alien life may very well be among us in one form or another.
The interview seemed to be in response to recent comments from Stephen Hawking that humankind should be most cautious in contacting alien races, lest we be burned to ash by laser beams. The topic seems a bit dated, given the lapse of time since Hawking made the assertion, but whatever. Brody seemed to dismiss this kind of thinking, pointing at the economics of sending a recon mission first via probes.
I had brought up this meme in a previous post, but I never thought of it in the way that Brody mentioned. Given that alien races, based simply on the age of our planet and our star compared to the rest of the galaxy, are likely to be older and more advanced than we, they will have technology far beyond ours. So if indeed they decide to investigate our civilization, the probes they would send would probably be of nano size. They might even be able to deconstruct and absorb asteroid debris for fuel. Point being, they would be so miniaturized that they would undoubtedly escape our notice. But why even go that far? At least one radio signal was sent in the direction of Alpha Centauri with the intent of direct contact with anybody who might be there. That is to say nothing of the radio and television signals plus military radar waves that our solar system is littered with. Aliens would quite possibly send their own signal back, but have it be completely unobtrusive. To SETI or anyone else that might be listening on Earth, the signal would be disregarded as mere background noise. What the transmission would actually be is a computer virus of sorts that would be received and then distributed throughout the Internet. Not a destructive one, mind you, but a simple program whose function would be to learn all that could be learned and then report back. Our computer networks would be an ideal milieu in which to do that.
The nano/cyberspace theory is one I had never considered. Far more efficient than a spaceship, at least for information gathering purposes.
Quite a notion, that. "They" might already have been here and we would never have known.
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