If aliens were watching us, this is what they would see
- 1 If aliens were watching us, this is what they would see
- 1.1 If aliens were watching us, this is what they would see
- 1.2 Article share options
- 1.3 The Arecibo message — and mistake
- 1.4 Voyager’s golden LPs
- 1.5 ‘Poetica vaginal’
- 1.6 An SOS from corn chips
- 1.7 Klingon opera
- 1.8 The spooky theremin
- 1.9 Across the universe
- 1.10 Mars 2031
- 1.11 English Listening Lesson on Aliens
- 1.12 Listen A Minute.com
- 1.13 MY e-BOOK
- 1.14 Would Russia or China Help Us if We Were Invaded by Space Aliens?
- 1.15 9 Strange, Scientific Excuses for Why Humans Haven’t Found Aliens Yet
- 1.16 Where are the aliens?
- 1.17 The aliens are hiding in underground oceans.
- 1.18 The aliens are imprisoned on «super-Earths.»
- 1.19 We’re looking in the wrong places (because all aliens are robots).
- 1.20 We’ve already found aliens (but are too distracted to realize it).
- 1.21 Humans will kill all the aliens (or already have).
- 1.22 The aliens triggered climate change (and died).
- 1.23 The aliens couldn’t evolve fast enough (and died).
- 1.24 Dark energy is splitting us apart
- 1.25 Twist ending: We ARE the aliens.
If aliens were watching us, this is what they would see
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If aliens have been paying attention to Earth, how would they view us?
Would-be astronaut Josh Richards, an Australian top 100 candidate for the privately funded Mars One mission, says if there is extra-terrestrial life, they could only deduce that we were Klingon-opera loving, corn chip-enslaving, Theremin-playing monsters, who enjoy the music of female reproductive organs.
The Arecibo message — and mistake
The first intentional message into space was the Arecibo message in 1974, sent from Puerto Rico’s Arecibo radio telescope.
The message used prime numbers to create a grid which included DNA elements and rudimentary images of humans and the telescope itself.
«By today’s standards, the image was very basic but used the prime numbers as a contextual foundation,» Josh told The Link.
Despite the work that went into it, a miscalculation saw the message, intended for the globular cluster M13, veer off course with little chance of ever being received.
Voyager’s golden LPs
The most comprehensive intentional representation of earth and humans left earth aboard the 1974 Voyager mission, etched onto 2 golden records.
«They contained sounds of whales singing, different languages and 116 images representing life on earth,» Josh said.
«The images of man and woman were censored by NASA so they contained no graphic images of human genitalia.»
The NASA censorship led one MIT research affiliate to record and transmit the sound of a ballerina’s vagina contracting.
The US Air Force tried to shut the transmission down, but not before a short message was sent out and reached Tau Ceti in 1998 and Epsilon Eridani in 1996.
An SOS from corn chips
The snack company Doritos held a competition in 2008 for corn chip fans to create a TV commercial that would be sent into space.
«The winning entry showed what can only be described as an Aztec ritual sacrifice of corn chips being dunked into salsa then consumed by a scruffy sophomore student, which might trigger aliens to launch a rescue mission to save the poor chips,» Josh said.
Star Trek’s invented language of Klingon was used to create a full length opera by a Dutch opera company in 2009, part of which was sent to space.
The language of the fictional intergalactic warrior race, not known for its delicate tones or ear-pleasing sound, may only be interpreted as «a declaration of war», Josh said.
The spooky theremin
A group of Russian teenagers decided in 2001 to send «information about our internal emotional world».
And what better way to achieve that than with the Theremin.
«Easily the creepiest musical instrument in all the known universe,» according to Josh.
Across the universe
Iconic Beatles song Across the Universe was sent into space in 2008 as a message of hope, love and oneness.
The record company’s concerns over royalty collection had to be allayed first and Paul McCartney apparently said, «Send [the aliens] my love».
The message should arrive at its intended target, the North Star, Polaris, by 2439.
Josh Richards is hoping his planned mission to the Red Planet, if he is selected, would send a similar message of inspiration, but for earthlings not aliens. And just like those message we have already sent, it’s a one-way trip.
But that prospect doesn’t phase or deter him.
«I’ll feel overwhelmingly joyful at the thought that there are hundreds of millions of kids growing up on that planet that I’m leaving behind, who will be watching us leave, who will want to grow and be explorers too,» Josh said.
«Looking at it [the universe] as a wonderful, complex, vicious beast that is unforgiving, but is also extraordinarily beautiful.»
Let’s just hope Josh remembers to take the corn chips.
English Listening Lesson on
Listen A Minute.com
THE LESSON ON ALIENS
Try the online quiz, reading, listening, and activities on grammar, spelling and vocabulary for this lesson on Aliens. Click on the links above or see the activities below this article:
There are aliens out there, somewhere. I strongly believe this. Not sure what they look like, though. I really doubt they are green, like they are in science fiction movies. I also don’t think they look like us. But I’m sure they exist. I just don’t think we’ll ever see any or find any. They live too far away. If you think about it logically, there has to be aliens out there. All a planet needs is to be warm and have water and life will exist. There are billions and billions of planets in the universe, so there are probably millions and millions that have life. Alien life. It’s also likely that some of the aliens are much more intelligent than we are. I wonder what we’d do if really intelligent aliens visited Earth. What would we ask them?
Mail this lesson to friends and teachers. Click the @ below.
LISTENING GAP FILL
There are aliens ______________________ , somewhere. I strongly believe this. Not sure what they look like, though. I ______________________ they are green, like they are in science fiction movies. I also don’t think they look like us. But I’m ______________________ . I just don’t think we’ll ever ______________________ find any. They live too far away. If you think about ______________________ , there has to be aliens out there. All a planet needs is to be warm and have water and ______________________ . There are billions and billions of planets in the universe, so there ______________________ millions and millions that have life. Alien life. It’s also likely that ______________________ aliens are much more intelligent than we are. I wonder what ______________________ really intelligent aliens visited Earth. What ______________________ them?
CORRECT THE SPELLING
There are aliens out there, ewehomser. I strongly believe this. Not sure what they look like, though. I really uotbd they are green, like they are in science infitoc movies. I also don’t think they look like us. But I’m sure they itesx. I just don’t think we’ll ever see any or find any. They live too far away. If you think about it alygcilol, there has to be aliens out there. All a lptena needs is to be warm and have water and life will exist. There are billions and billions of planets in the eevrnius, so there are probably millions and millions that have life. Alien life. It’s also ylelki that some of the aliens are much more egltetniinl than we are. I wonder what we’d do if really intelligent aliens iviteds Earth. What would we ask them?
UNJUMBLE THE WORDS
aliens There out are there, somewhere. I strongly believe this. like look they what sure Not, though. I really doubt they are green, like they are in science fiction movies. I look us don’t they like also think. But I’m sure they exist. I just don’t think we’ll ever see any or find any. They live too far away. it about think you If logically, there has to be aliens out there. All is be a needs to warm planet and have water and life will exist. There are billions and billions universe the in planets of, so there are probably millions and millions that have life. Alien life. It’s also much are aliens the of some that likely more intelligent than we are. I wonder what we’d do if really intelligent aliens visited Earth. would them we What ask?
DISCUSSION (Write your own questions)
STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)
Would Russia or China Help Us if We Were Invaded by Space Aliens?
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In a recent essay on great-power competition and climate change, Rob Litwak, an arms control expert at the Wilson Center, recalled a question that President Ronald Reagan posed to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, after they took a walk during their 1985 Lake Geneva summit.
As Gorbachev put it later: “President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?’”
“I said, ‘No doubt about it.’”
“So that’s interesting,” Gorbachev concluded.
It sure is, because it’s not at all clear, given the recent upsurge in raw great-power competition, that Russia, China or America would help one another in the face of an invasion of space aliens threatening us all. Litwak’s point in retelling that story, of course, is that today we are facing a similar, world-stressing threat — not from space aliens but from a much more familiar and once seemingly benign force: our climate.
Global warming is challenging every nation with more extreme weather, wildfires and sea level rise and once-in-a-century storms coming much more frequently. Unlike with a space alien, though, there’s zero possibility of negotiating with Mother Nature. She does only whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and she has no clue or interest in where the borders of Russia, America or China stop and start. She’s got the whole wide world in her hands — as she demonstrated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet neither China’s president, Xi Jinping, nor Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is attending the Glasgow climate summit, which opened Sunday, in person with President Biden and many other world leaders. And even more important, The Washington Post reported last week that some in the Chinese leadership want to resist any substantial cooperation with America on climate issues until the United States dials down its pressure on China “over human rights, Hong Kong, Taiwan, trade and a range of other issues.”
We’ve never seen this tactic before from Beijing: We’ll clean our air, but only if you let us buzz Taiwan’s airspace and choke off the air of freedom in Hong Kong.
A senior U.S. official told me that there is actually a lot of division in Beijing right now on the wisdom of this sort of wolf-warrior diplomatic strategy on climate, which is being pushed by Foreign Minister Wang Yi. There are definitely other Chinese leaders who want to collaborate with Washington and understand that on climate, we sink or swim together. Still, even a hint of this sort of planet-Earth-hostage-taking strategy by some senior Chinese officials is very troubling and needs to be called out.
“The window for humanity to avoid unmanageable climate change is narrowing,” Litwak noted in his Wilson Center essay. “China, the United States and Russia are, respectively, the first, second and fourth largest carbon emitters. Yet at the precise historical juncture when unprecedented global cooperation is necessary to forestall catastrophe, the world is on the brink of unconstrained geostrategic competition. Indeed, U.S. relations with Russia and China are the worst they have been since the end of the Cold War.”
There is never a good time for a great-power conflict. And we’ve already seen how deadly the lack of global cooperation in the face of Mother Nature’s Covid-19 stressor has been. But this is even more dangerous. A shootout between the United States and China over Taiwan or between NATO and Russia over Ukraine — just as human-made climate change is putting a gun to all of our heads — would be insane. But it’s a real possibility.
What we need instead of an arms race or a space race is an Earth race — a great-power competition over which country is rising fastest and farthest to enable a world of net-zero carbon emissions so men and women can thrive here on Earth. I’d love to see Biden do a real throw down to Xi and Putin in his speech in Glasgow for that race.
Biden could say: “I know that climate change is a global problem and that if we clean our air and you don’t clean yours, there is no way to solve it. But we’re not going to use that as an excuse, or let our oil and coal industries use that as an excuse, to do nothing until you do. Because there are 7.9 billion people on the planet today and by 2030, there will be 600 million more — 600 million more! That means that, climate change or no climate change, just having that many more people to feed, house and transport will guarantee that clean power, clean water and energy-efficient buildings and cars will be the next great global industry. Otherwise, we’ll all choke on pollution. So if you all want to keep burning coal and give our clean industries a five-year head start in the next great global industry, make my day. Myself, I am going to declare America’s intention to win the Earth race, to make America the first country to invent and deploy the most clean-power technologies and drive them down the cost curve so that everyone on the planet can afford them.’’
Challenging China and Russia over who can produce the most tools for global resilience, not just resistance, is a way for America to reclaim some moral leadership on the world stage and focus our economy, and our competitors, on the most important industries of the future. Unless we humans want to be a bad biological experiment, a zero-carbon grid, zero-emissions transportation, zero-carbon/zero-net-energy buildings and zero-waste manufacturing indeed will — and must — be the next great global industry.
And by the way, while Russia is currently not a player in that competition, I would not bet against China.
Hal Harvey, who runs the climate analytics firm Energy Innovation and helps to advise governments on clean energy transitions, notes that the United States has set out a very clear goal of when it wants to get to a net-zero carbon-emitting economy — 2050 — and Biden is now trying to fill in the details with specific plans. Alas, without a single vote of support from Republicans.
China, by contrast, Harvey added, is building incredibly detailed plans on how to decarbonize, which Beijing could scale up very quickly — but it has been less detailed in setting hard dates for fulfillment.
Since Xi right now is focused on keeping the Chinese economy growing while he tries to lock in his third term as president, he is not going to do anything to curb growth in China in ways that could sap his popularity. So China will keep burning a lot of coal for a while. But don’t be fooled: Beijing is also building huge amounts of solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power. It’s game on.
As long as both countries keep focused on the Earth race, it almost doesn’t matter which one wins, because together they will drive down the costs of clean power for everyone. If they slow down or get diverted, though, we may wish for some space aliens to take us to their planet.
9 Strange, Scientific Excuses for Why Humans Haven’t Found Aliens Yet
Where are the aliens?
One night about 60 years ago, physicist Enrico Fermi looked up into the sky and asked, «Where is everybody?»
Today, scientists know that there are millions, perhaps billions of planets in the universe that could sustain life. So, in the long history of everything, why hasn’t any of this life made it far enough into space to shake hands (or claws … or tentacles) with humans? It could be that the universe is just too big to traverse.
It could be that the aliens are deliberately ignoring us. It could even be that every growing civilization is irrevocably doomed to destroy itself (something to look forward to, fellow Earthlings).
Or, it could be something much, much weirder. Like what, you ask? Here are nine strange answers that scientists have proposed for Fermi’s paradox.
The aliens are hiding in underground oceans.
If humans hope to converse with ET, we’ll need to have a few icebreakers handy. No, seriously — alien life is probably trapped in secret oceans buried deep inside frozen planets.
Subsurface oceans of liquid water slosh beneath multiple moons in our solar system and may be common throughout the Milky Way, astronomers say. NASA physicist Alan Stern thinks clandestine water worlds like these could provide a perfect stage for evolving life, even if inhospitable surface conditions plague those plants. «Impacts and solar flares, and nearby supernovae, and what orbit you’re in, and whether you have a magnetosphere, and whether there’s a poisonous atmosphere — none of those things matter» for life that’s underground, Stern told Space.com.
That’s great for the aliens, but it also means we’ll never be able to detect them just by glancing at their planets with a telescope. Can we expect them to contact us? Heck, Stern said — these critters live so deep, we can’t even expect them to know that there’s a sky over their heads.
The aliens are imprisoned on «super-Earths.»
No, «super-Earth» is not Captain Planet’s dorky cousin. In astronomy, the term refers to a type of planet with a mass up to 10 times greater than Earth’s. Star surveys have turned up oodles of these worlds that could have the right conditions for liquid water. This means alien life could conceivably be evolving on super-Earths all over the universe.
Unfortunately, we’ll probably never meet these aliens. According to a study published in April, a planet with 10 times Earth’s mass would also have an escape velocity 2.4 times greater than Earth’s — and overcoming that pull could make rocket launches and space travel near impossible.
«On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive,» study author Michael Hippke, a researcher affiliated with the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany, previously told Live Science. «Instead, [those aliens] would be to some extent arrested on their home planet.»
We’re looking in the wrong places (because all aliens are robots).
Humans invented the radio around 1900, built the first computer in 1945 and are now in the business of mass-producing handheld devices capable of making billions of calculations per second. Full-blown artificial intelligence may be right around the corner, and futurist Seth Shostak said that’s reason enough to reframe our search for intelligent aliens. Simply put, we should be looking for machines, not little green men.
«Any [alien] society that invents radio, so we can hear them, within a few centuries, they’ve invented their successors,» Shostak said at the Dent:Space conference in San Francisco in 2016. «And I think that’s important, because the successors are machines.»
A truly advanced alien society may be completely populated by super-intelligent robots, Shostak said, and that should inform our search for aliens. Instead of focusing all our resources on finding other habitable planets, perhaps we should also look to places that would be more attractive to machines — say, places with lots of energy, like the centers of galaxies. «We’re looking for analogues of ourselves,» Shostak said, «but I don’t know that that’s the majority of the intelligence in the universe.»
We’ve already found aliens (but are too distracted to realize it).
Thanks to pop culture, the word «alien» probably makes you envision a spooky humanoid with a big, bald head. That’s fine for Hollywood — but these preconceived images of E.T. could sabotage our search for alien life, a team of psychologists from Spain wrote earlier this year.
In a small study, the researchers asked 137 people to look at pictures of other planets and scan the images for signs of alien structures. Hidden among several of these images was a tiny man in a gorilla suit. As the participants hunted for what they imagined alien life to look like, only about 30 percent noticed the gorilla man.
In reality, aliens probably won’t look anything like apes; they may not even be detectable by light and sound waves, the researchers wrote. So, what does this study show us? Basically, our own imagination and attention span limit our search for extraterrestrialsy. If we don’t learn to broaden our frames of reference, we could miss the gorilla staring us in the face.
Humans will kill all the aliens (or already have).
The closer we get to finding aliens, the closer we get to destroying them. That’s one likely eventuality, anyway, said theoretical physicist Alexander Berezin.
Here’s his thinking: Any civilization capable of exploring beyond its own solar system must be on a path of unrestricted growth and expansion. And as we know on Earth, that expansion often comes at the expense of smaller, in-the-way organisms. Berezin said this me-first mentality probably wouldn’t end when alien life is finally encountered — assuming we even notice it.
«What if the first life that reaches interstellar-travel capability necessarily eradicates all competition to fuel its own expansion?» Berezin wrote in a paper posted in March to the preprint journal arXiv.org. «I am not suggesting that a highly developed civilization would consciously wipe out other life-forms. Most likely, they simply won’t notice, the same way a construction crew demolishes an anthill to build real estate because they lack incentive to protect it.» (Whether humans are the ants or the bulldozers in this scenario remains to be seen.)
The aliens triggered climate change (and died).
When a population burns through resources faster than its planet can provide them, catastrophe looms. We know this well enough from the ongoing climate-change crisis here on Earth. So, isn’t it possible that an advanced, energy-guzzling alien society might run into the same issues?
According to astrophysicist Adam Frank, it’s not only possible but extremely likely. Earlier this year, Frank ran a series of mathematical models to simulate how a hypothetical alien civilization might rise and fall as it increasingly converted its planet’s resources into energy. The bad news is that in three out of four scenarios, the society crumbled and most of the population died. Only when the society caught the problem early and immediately switched to sustainable energy did the civilization manage to survive. That means that, if aliens do exist, the odds are pretty high they’ll destroy themselves before we ever meet them.
«Across cosmic space and time, you’re going to have winners — who managed to see what was going on and figure out a path through it — and losers, who just couldn’t get their act together, and their civilization fell by the wayside,» Frank said. «The question is, which category do we want to be in?»
The aliens couldn’t evolve fast enough (and died).
File another excuse under «the aliens are dead already» category. The universe may be teeming with hospitable planets, but there’s no guarantee they’ll stay that way long enough for life to evolve. According to a 2016 study from Australia National University, wet, rocky planets like Earth very unstable when they start their careers; if any alien life hopes to evolve and thrive on such a world, it has a very limited window (a few hundred million years) to get the ball rolling.
«Between the early heat pulses, freezing, volatile content variation and runaway [greenhouse gases], maintaining life on an initially wet, rocky planet in the habitable zone may be like trying to ride a wild bull — most life falls off,» the study authors wrote. «Life may be rare in the universe not because it is difficult to get started, but because habitable environments are difficult to maintain during the first billion years.
Dark energy is splitting us apart
The universe is expanding. Slowly but surely, galaxies are moving farther apart, with distant stars appearing dimmer to us, all thanks to the pull of a mysterious, invisible substance that scientist call dark energy. Scientists speculate that within a few trillion years, dark energy will stretch the universe so much that Earthlings will no longer be able to see the light of any galaxies beyond our closest cosmic neighbors. That’s a scary thought: If we don’t explore as much of the universe as possible before then, such investigations may be lost to us forever.
«The stars become not only unobservable, but entirely inaccessible,» Dan Hooper, an astrophysicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, wrote in a study earlier this year. That means we’re on a serious deadline to find and meet any aliens out there — and to keep a step ahead of dark energy, we’ll have to expand our civilization into as many galaxies as we can before they all drift away.
Of course, fueling that kind of growth won’t be easy, Hooper said. It might involve rearranging the stars.
Twist ending: We ARE the aliens.
If you left your house today, you saw an alien. The woman delivering mail? Alien. Your next-door neighbor? Nosy alien. Your parents and siblings? Aliens, aliens, aliens.
At least, that’s one implication of the fringe astrobiology theory called the «panspermia hypothesis.» In a nutshell, the hypothesis says that much of the life we see on Earth today didn’t originate here but was «seeded» here millions of years ago by meteors carrying bacteria from other worlds.
Proponents of this theory have variously suggested that octopi, tardigrades and humans were seeded here from other parts of the galaxy — but unfortunately, there’s no real evidence to back up any of that. One big counterargument: If bacteria carrying human DNA evolved on another nearby planet, why haven’t we found traces of humanity anywhere besides Earth? Even if this hypothesis turns out to be plausible, it still doesn’t help us answer Fermi’s nagging question … Where is everybody?