Home Future CONTRARY BRIN: Life in the cosmos: reflecting on SETI

CONTRARY BRIN: Life in the cosmos: reflecting on SETI


I have studied and listened and written extensively – in fiction and nonfiction, for most of my life – about SETI, METI and life in the cosmos. For decades I have refused to glom onto premature conclusions or “Aha! This must be it!” declarations. Though new information or insights by others can change how I rank-order the possibilities.

In discussing the possibility of alien life, the UK Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, pretty much describes one of the plot lines in my novel Existence in this article: Why Intelligent Extraterrestrials are more likely to be artificial than biological. He notes, “I’d argue it would even be worth looking for traces of aliens in our own solar system. While we can probably rule out visits by human-like species, there are other possibilities. An extraterrestrial civilisation that had mastered nanotechnology may have transferred its intelligence to tiny machines, for example. It could then invade other worlds, or even asteroid belts, with swarms of microscopic probes.”

And yes, I agree with Martin, which is one more reason we should emphasize missions to asteroids over the sterile-poison and almost useless (in the near term) Luna. (That sandbox should mostly be left to the kiddies – with some important exceptions.)

Here’s one explanation for alien behavior, curtesy of Candorville by Darrin Bell. I’ve discussed the “cat laser hypothesis” in my posting: What’s really up with UAPs/UFOs?  Another take can be found in my story Those Eyes.

== They keep getting fuzzier. Why would ‘aliens’ do that? ==

Eray Ozkural shares “UAP” footage he took last June, showing glowing dots dancing over waters near the Princess Islands, darting about and occasionally causing explosion-like airbursts. The latter phenomenon I’ve not seen before and it’s worth a viewing. Still, instead of refuting my “cat laser” scenario, these airbursts only re-double the likelihood of that explanation! 

Alas, zealots keep repeating the fundamental assumption that these are ‘objects’ experiencing ‘propulsion’, and hence, since the movements seem to violate Newton, inertia, and even Einstein, they must be super-advanced alien ships. 

Alas for that scenario (and I have spent my life exploring concepts of the ‘alien’, including many decades involved in SETI), what I see there has NONE of the properties of an actual, physical ‘object’ and all properties of an excited patch of atmosphere! A compact patch (of probably excited plasma) that glows and occasionally causes air detonations. 

What always lingers in the air, after one of these sightings, is one of the several key questions that I ask in my most recent UAP/UFO posting, which is why do these sightings keep getting fuzzier and fuzzier, now that there are approximately a MILLION times as many active cameras as there were in the 1950s? 

I’m not the only one discussing this vexing (actually damning) paradox. See this appraisal.

Then there is the locale, once again over an ocean where the real ‘objects’ doing all this – presumably ships on the water – aren’t being watched by any of the people aiming cameras at this blatant example of a 3D cat laser.  

Of course the crews of those ships aren’t posting videos. I bet they are too busy messing with us.

Good kitties. Oh, you funny kitties, chase the spot! Chase it!

== Oh, it gets much worse! We’re being messed with. ==

Oh. While we’re at it… and not a lot dumber than UFO fetishism… Flat Earthers are doing what all of that ilk do, when refuted… doubling down on the mystical inanity. In a blatant hearkening to Teutonic (Yggdrasil) mythology (a romanticism that then fed right into naziism), this latest hate-science chant-incantation spends 90 minutes persuading more of the gullible than you’d believe possible. “Flat-Earthers Have a Wild New Theory About Forests: What it means to believe that “real” trees no longer exist.”  

Oh and what’s with “birds are fake?”  

Only one thing makes these – and political – cultists flee. 

Demands for cash wagers. 

Watch them vanish, poof, like magic!

== Planetary protection provisions ==

A highly controversial proposal may be overdue… to allow careful relaxation of some ‘planetary protection’ rules for spacecraft sent to certain parts of Mars where instruments show no substantial presence of water ice or brines near the surface. 

“Such regions could include a significant portion of the surface of Mars, because the UV environment is so biocidal that terrestrial organisms are, in most cases, not likely to survive more than one to two sols, or Martian days. For missions that access the subsurface (down to 1 meter), regions on Mars expected to have patchy or no water ice below the surface might also be visited by spacecraft more relaxed bioburden requirements, because such patchy ice is likely not conducive to the proliferation of terrestrial microorganisms.”

Erring on the side of caution is good and wise! We stand on a mountain of our ancestors (oft well-intended) mistakes! Still, it is worthwhile seeking a path that still enables forward movement.

== An age of wonders! ==

Earlier in 2021 we watched robots scoop asteroids and Perseverance land on Mars and a tiny helicopter fit over the Red Planet… and so much more!

Oh, and see fabulous video of how the Webb Space Telescope will unfold…

… and a list of amazing space endeavors we hope humanity will accomplish in the coming year.

And yes, we are amazing, accomplishing wonders through goodwill, cooperation, FAIR competition and science and – above all – citizenship. Which is why enemies try so hard to get us at each others’ throats. 

Let’s defy them and make a better tomorrow. Start by opening a window and shouting “I am NOT ‘mad as hell’ and I refuse to let you lure me into that self-destructive trip!”

May 2022 be your best yet! And the worst of all that follow.


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