The Aliens are Coming!
In a prior post I made the case that it seem pretty unlikely that aliens are going to be invading Earth any time soon. We don’t have any resources that aren’t far more easily obtained elsewhere by a star faring civilization, and what we do have that’s unique is our DNA, which they can sample without a messy invasion. Still, who knows what motivates aliens, maybe for sport, maybe alien fetishists really do desire Earth girls, anything is possible in this crazy Universe we live in. What are our chances if while scanning the skies for alien invaders one day … lo and behold … here they come!
As I’ve said before, we’re kinda in trouble. First of all, any invader from space pretty much by definition already controls the ultimate high ground. They don’t need ray guns, super weapons, or Death Stars. As anyone who has read “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” knows, all they need is a few well placed rocks. A hundred ton rock fired at even modest velocities is going to do nuclear weapon type damage when it hits. And there’s no way to defend ourselves against such attacks, except maybe to vaporise them with nuclear weapons. Rocks are cheap and plentiful in the Solar System, nuclear weapons are expensive and come in limited numbers. This might buy us some time, but when it comes right down to it, a space faring race could easily bombard us into submission from orbit.
Then there’s other ways a space faring race holds trump cards. It should be easy for them to both destroy our spy satellites and orbit ones of their own, giving then a huge intel and reconnaissance advantage. They would have the ability to attack anywhere anytime from orbit, there would be no “front line” to defend. Despite Hollywood movies, there are any number of humans who would sell out their race for a price, so they would be able to infiltrate our side … and we would have no comparable ability. Aliens would have a huge advantage in “open source” intelligence. IE they could easily study our broadcasts, publications, and even electronic communications to learn about us. Hell, they could surf the web with little trouble. We on the other hand would have very little ability to gather intelligence about them.
Aside from all these advantages that Hollywood ignores, our aliens most likely would have better weapons and computers than us for starters. And that would include biological weapons and WMDs. Hell, they might also have experience in invading alien worlds. Hardened alien veterans that have invaded dozens of worlds and aren’t scared by gunpowder using monkeys like us. They might even be motivated by an ultimate alien religion that makes Christianity, Islam, and Judaism look like Bronze Age cults. They might even have advantages over us that we can’t even conceive of they are so alien.
In other words, if some star faring alien species grows up and invades Earth, we’re kinda in trouble. Our microbes might carry the day for us in “War of the Worlds,” but it’s kinda hard to imagine aliens so stupid that they weren’t prepared for that eventuality. Or the even stupider defence in “Signs” where it turns out the alien invaders were destroyed by mere contact with water! Um, yeah, would humans invade a planet that had sulphuric acid rivers, seas, lakes, and rain? Frankly every alien invasion movie and book I’ve seen had aliens so stupid it was almost painful. If counting on the aliens to be painfully stupid is our best defence, we’re in trouble.
I suppose one could make the case that if we got our act together beforehand, stopped blowing each other up, and make preparations to properly defend our planet, we might stand a chance. Still, it’s pretty iffy unless we are more or less in a position to be master of the space in and around the Solar System. IE what do we do if they start chucking rocks at us from the Asteroid Belt? Unless we have technology pretty much nearly as good as any putative alien invaders, it’s hard to come up with a defence that they couldn’t easily overcome. So maybe the esteemed Mr Hawking has a point after all, we should thank our lucky stars that we haven’t run across any aliens yet.
On the plus side, at least now my gentle readers know that there’s no point walking around scanning the skies for alien invaders. For one, it’s probably not going to happen, and secondly, if it does were hosed. And the best thing about not walking around scanning the skies for alien invaders is that you’re far less likely to walk in front of a bus. Yes, our best defence against alien invaders is to ignore the possibility and worry about our other problems. Oddly enough though I did have one thought about defending against aliens that may have some merit, and in a similar vein I’ve had a thought about how to look for aliens that maybe n0 one else has proposed before. More future blog posts, yeah!
(The above image was drawn prior to 1927 and is public domain under US copyright law. It’s an illustration from the original “War of the Worlds” novel by H. G. Welles in 1898. It’s a great book. Followed by a 1953 movie that was cheesy but still a lot of fun. Followed by a 2005 version with Tom Cruise that was painful to watch. Another sign that our civilization is going down the tubes? Yerp.)