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.
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.