“Hello Gliese 581d inhabitant. Can you help us humans travel through space and become smart like you. Please do not eat us we are a friendly race.”
There’s been some new thinking in SETI research. Well, it’s not that new, but it’s been brought into prominence by an important SETI researcher recently. His theory is that biological intelligences such as ourselves will quickly evolve into, or spawn, thinking machines. And those machines will also quickly evolve, and that such machine intelligences would want to live where there was plenty of matter and energy, galactic centres and hot young stars. Thus we should be concentrating on looking there for signs of alien life, since such alien machines civilizations would be far longer lasting than biological intelligences. Well, fair enough. With SETI discussions we do have to start with the codicil that we might as well be arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, our database is that small. Still, even in the information is limited, logical arguments can still be constructed by making assumptions and building on them. And this is what the esteemed Seth Shostak has done.
And while I don’t think it can hurt to listen where he suggests as part of ongoing SETI efforts, my thinking is that he’s wrong. My thinking being if that machine intelligence is possible (it is just an assumption,) and it does evolve as quickly as Seth Shostak postulates, wouldn’t it quickly get to the point where such intelligences could literally rearrange stars or make artificial stars? In fact such structures and creations should be common, shouldn’t they? And so far we’re seeing nothing in that department. Still, I wonder sometimes if anyone is looking for stuff like that. Patterns and such in the layouts of stars. And such patterns might not be immediately obvious to the naked eye, but software could be designed to look for them. Stars laid out in the pattern of a giant buckyball or something would obviously have to have been artificially placed.
By the same token I wonder if we might accidentally stumble onto star system engineering with our new planet searching missions like Kepler. For example it’s been proposed that to terraform Venus we might build some sort of giant orbital sail to literally shade the planet periodically to cool it down. And something like this around a nearby star could be detectable with current technology. The media has fostered the idea the appearance of aliens will be a dramatic event, but I suspect it’s something that’s going to come out of left field. Scientists announcing for example that not only does a nearby star have an earth like planet, the planet appears to have three absolutely identical equally spaced moons orbiting it. That or something like it would be pretty hard to explain as a natural phenomena.
Which brings us back to my previous idea of searching Lagrange Points. And frankly, I’m liking the idea more and more. While there are no large objects in the Lagrange Points near Earth, there is indeed dust and objects up to one metre in size. And when we get to some of the Lagrange Points in other parts of the Solar System, like those near Jupiter, some of them have asteroids in them. Um, if aliens are gonna park some sort of Solar System observatory near our Sun, an asteroid in a Lagrange point would be an obvious first choice. Especially if one considers that such aliens might want to be found. And if they were thinking in terms of tens of thousands of years, a Lagrange Point is an obvious point to leave us a message in a bottle so to speak.
I also wonder if Lagrange Points could act more or less as repositories of flotsam and jetsam that has “washed up” so to speak on the shores of space. I don’t know enough about orbital mechanics to even guess on that one. In any case, I’m only a humble and ignorant blogger, but I think Lagrange Points should be getting far more attention from the scientific community. Even if we find no alien artifacts in same, just samples of whatever dust and asteroidal material there would be of immense scientific value. It’s not like an asteroid or Lagrange Point probe is going to be wasted money. Sampling the dust and pebbles at the near Earth Lagrange Points for example would not only give us some cheap and interesting stuff to study, it would be a great way to develop sampling technology that could be deployed anywhere. I mean, going out there and looking is incredible beyond words, but the next step is bringing stuff back for scientists to get their claws into.
So, are we not planning to explore the Lagrange Points because there is some logical reason they are of no interest, or has the UFO fringe factor scared off legitimate enquiry? I’d really like to know.
(The above public domain image is part of the Arecibo message we beamed, well, into random space in 1974. It was sent only once to demonstrate new technology, and the chances it will ever be read are basically zero. I also think it’s funny because the part I illustrated above shows Pluto as a planet. Um, Pluto was mistakenly classified as a planet, and it’s unlikely aliens will make the same mistake. So I can see them reading this message, discovering the Solar System, and concluding that they had the wrong star system because there was no planet beyond Uranus. Coming up, UFO pyramids and ghosts. Oh, yeah, the title. That was a message scientists recently sent to a nearby planet, Gliese 581d planet, if we get a response it will arrive about 2051. I’ll blog on it, you can count on it.)