Friday, April 27, 2012

Take Me To Your Leader

Bucking the space-time-continuum the wife and I finally got round to watching the BBC’s Stargazing Live this week – nearly 3 months after it was originally broadcast and thus punching a Higgs Boson sized hole through the very nature of it being “live”.

Professor Brian Cox and non-professor Dara Ó Briain make for a surprisingly coherent presenting team (Dara having a physics degree of all things for a stand-up comedian) though I suspect the person who types up the opening and closing credits to the show must experience a brain supernova if they happen to be dyslexic... an event that, I don’t know about you, I would love to see picked up by the Hubble space telescope and pored over by UFO conspiracy theorists the world over.

Which brings me neatly onto the subject of my post.

UFOs. Aliens.

Do they really exist?

Lord knows there’s enough crap written about them.

Professor Brian answered these questions and more with a down-to-earthness which, for an astronomer bod, was most refreshing.

Is there life out there in the universe? Yes. The universe is practically infinite therefore there has to be other life somewhere.

Do aliens come here and partially mind-wipe American mid-West farmers and probe their bottoms with periscopes fuelled by crystolic fusion? No. Absolutely not. And the logic to this is simple. The distances that aliens would have to cover are unimaginably vast. To the point of impossibility. We, as a species, have been spoiled somewhat by Hollywood (actually, we as a species have been absolutely wrecked and had our innate intelligence completely compromised by Hollywood). We imagine space travel as being somehow easy. You build the Millennium Falcon and – hey presto – you can not only travel to Tatooine at the furthest rim of the galaxy but you can also spend months if not years in deep space playing holo-chess with Chewbacca (better let the Wookie win) and playing space frottage with Princess Leia in the cargo hold.

The reality though is that space is completely, fundamentally inimical to life. Zero gravity is inimical to creatures whose DNA has built itself around the idea of gravity being present. The most continuous time a man has spent in space is, I think, 18 months and that left him pretty much wrecked when he landed back on earth. Even short missions in zero gravity tend to lead to ill health. Most astronauts, when they return to earth, tend to throw up their first meal and find their muscles have become noticeably weaker.

To overcome all this then is going to require technology so far beyond our own it would be like asking Cro-Magnon man to play Angry Birds on your iPhone.

So any aliens that do make it here to take photos of Mid-West farmers "getting it on" with their cattle are not going to be so stupid as to leave their spaceship’s tail-lights on, leave indentations of their landing gear in fields of corn or botch up a mind wipe on Zeke and Jethro. If they really, genuinely want to make their presence known I’m pretty sure they’ll go through the proper channels (i.e. take out a High Court superinjunction and then Tweet about it on Twitter).

And I have to say I totally agree with Professor Brian’s synopsis of the situation. I certainly agree there is life somewhere else in the universe – our species would have to be stupidly arrogant to think otherwise – but they ain’t saying hello, folks. Not to ordinary folk like you and me. And not to super-geeks who spend their Friday nights masturbating over the Spider Nebula. If they’re visiting us, they’re not letting on. Not at all.

All these UFO sightings and alien abduction stories are just twaddle. The results of over-imagination, unfulfilling lifestyles and a hidden desire to be probed by something which is not human. To be honest these people would be better off allowing themselves to be caught smuggling internally ingested packets of heroin through German customs.

Oh. And one last thing. One last thing to cheese off the conspiracy lovers and the doubting Thomas’s.

The moon landings DID take place.

You can go into Jessops, buy a decent telescope over the counter and see the footprints and the moon buggy tracks for yourself. They’re still there.

Live long and prosper, people. Live long and prosper.


the fly in the web said...

So who was probing the bottoms of American mid west farmers, then?

Homeland Security?

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I suspect the IRS. They can get to the bottom of most things.

Gorilla Bananas said...

But if egghead professors don't believe the aliens have landed, the aliens have succeeded in shrouding their visits in mystery. I would never argue with a peasant who said that aliens had given him a naked woman to impregnate in their spacecraft. Why would he lie?

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: nor would I but I don't think any peasant has ever claimed that. Most claim they themselves have been probed and / or impregnated. Surely this is them just trying to create the myth that they, as individuals, are so sexually irresistable that even little green men from the other side of the galaxy risk a horrible death in space just to sample their love furniture?

AGuidingLife said...

18 months?! They are sending the wrong people into space. By their very nature astronauts are go getters. They would suffer in a constricting environment of dull routine and little option for go getting. (I know they are in space but they've achieved that, they need to do more than just get there and watch experiments). My OH would sit on his arse for 18 months supping packets of food and watching football reruns without even noticing the time. In fact they would say 'are you planning on coming back anytime soon?' and he would say "yeah, yeah I was just about to do it"

Gappy said...

No little green men then? Bugger. Always pissing on my parade, you ;-)

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: you may have a point there. The people we should be sending into space are couch potatoes. After all, these people have modified their own DNA to work independently of gravity.

Steve said...

Gappy: would you prefer big green men?

No. Don't answer that.

Wanderlust said...

Oh you doubter, you Thomas! As someone actually living in the Midwest, how do you explain to me the odd, circular patches of dead grass showing up on my lawn? And don't say grubs, because I'd like to believe they don't exist. At least in my yard.

Steve said...

Wanderlust: rogue barbecues.

Marginalia said...

Oh dear you've fallen for that old "since the universe is (nearly)infinite..." line. Also the old "space is inimical to life.." line.

If as you suggest the universe is infinite and life exists elsewhere, it follows there would be an infinite number of opportunities for life to exist, an infinite number to have reached a level of technology to transmit electronic signals and our airways would be swamped with alien DJs.

The thing is there may be a huge numbers of places where the circs are such that life could exist. The trouble is we have no idea how, given those circs, it gets started. We may well be unique because that life starting process is infinitely, imperceptibly remote.

Life to reproduce, be sentient, watch TV doesn't have to be carbon based or dependent on a limited range of gravity. It is possible that some sort of "living" form could originate in space, live in space and die in space. Read Fred Hoyle's "Halley's Comet" for a really exciting view of extraterrestial life.

I'm placing my bet on Titan and it's huge moderately warm sea.

Steve said...

Marginalia: I'd like to put you and Professor Brian in a room together and let you lock horns on live telly. That would be a programme and a half.

P.S. I accept that there might be lifeforms that originate in space but do you see these as being complex carbon beings? Most scientists take the view that water is a necessary starting point / ingredient for life.

Owen said...

You're are absolutely right about the I R S ... an organisation which should be launched on a non-stop one way trip to the far side of the universe, and good riddance !

Being Me said...

I feel like I've learned something. And yet, I feel I know less about all this now than I did before. Is that possible?

Steve said...

Owen: just sending them to the bottom of the sea in James Cameron's submersible would be enough for me.

Being Me: that'll be my mind wipe taking effect. It takes longer with some people than others. Obviously. ;-)

joebloggs said...

Here we go again.....ever heard of hiding in plain sight?
Prof Brian Cox knows all to well how that works, he's been doing that for years. He tried to control you with 'Rock' back in the early 90' s then when that didn't work what did he do? I'll tell you what he did, he used 'electronic' music to soften your brains into accepting alien directives. Proof, the second most powerful man of his era Mr T Blair used his fellow comrade's "music" in his campaign to be elected leader. Things can only get better...I think not Tony, you alien overlord!
There see conclusive PROOF that aliens must exist and walk among us!
Oh and have I mentioned Cox's lips recently, the lips of a 'prober' for sure!
Didn't old Tone have a wonky smile and letcherous smile too? See further proof, there's loads of em here. How much more do you people need aaaaarrrghhh (runs off into the woods with tin foil hat firmly wedged on )

Steve said...

Joe: one question. Is Professor Brian from Venus or from Mars? Or is he... *smirk* *smirk*... from Uranus?

joebloggs said...

Due to the childish sniggering every time Uranus is mentioned NASA have renamed the planet Urectum....fact!

Steve said...

Joe: urarse or urbumhole would have been so much classier.

Unknown said...

The truth is out there! Whether we’d be able to handle it, is another matter. So much is still to be learned about Earth and it’s inhabitants… we’re certainly not ready to take on Aliens’ troubles! :)

Steve said...

Hannah: I don't think we can handle it. Orson Welles proved that and I don't think anything has changed.

Löst Jimmy said...

You mean Star Trek wasn't a reality TV show?

The Sagittarian said...

Its a sad day indeed if we are 'it'. Plenty of aliens down here if you know where to look (start at parliamanet and work your way from there....)

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: you're thinking of The Muppets.

Amanda: you're thinking of monsters.