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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guest Post: Kat

Apocalypse 2.0: Aliens Do (Not) Exist

Hi. I'm Kat, and I'm here to prove the existence of aliens, discuss the Republican primaries, and make oblique references to my favorite TV shows. Also, I promise you that all but one of those items are very closely related to each other.

Before I proceed to blow your mind into little meat-drops with the explosive power of PHILOSOPHY, there's just one quick little concept we need to discuss: the Fermi paradox. Essentially, Fermi was this great scientist, mathematician, and astronomer who concluded that, in an infinite universe with infinite possibilities, there is a mathematical absolute certainty that aliens should exist somewhere in the world.

The only problem with that idea is that, technically, those same calculations also confirm that we should have some proof of or contact with these sufficiently advanced aliens. Ergo, the paradox; infinitely simultaneously provides proof for both the existence and non-existence of extraterrestrial creatures, sort of like how Firefly proved that FOX was capable of making excellent shows by existing, and then proved they were all idiots by being canceled after 12 episodes.

So, which is right? It's gotta be one or the other.

Or does it?

There's another, better answer: both. Let's assume that there is, or was, intelligent life in the universe, somewhere, because the simple fact of having impossibly large numbers makes anything almost certain. For example, however unlikely and weird it would be if it was occurring in your immediate vicinity, somewhere in the world there is a man in a Star Wars costume doing the funky chicken. Because math says so.

At any rate, these aliens have not contacted us because, in all probability, they no longer exist. Since I, unfortunately, have no reliable historical contacts in the Moon Kingdom, I'm going to use a little perspective change; to them, we're the aliens, so everything that applies to once culture should logically apply to the other.

Earth has existed for billions of years, and only in the past twenty-five or so have we gained the technology to send our voice out into open space, and our robots to just our closest planets. Traveling fast enough to get to a whose new planet will certainly be decades, if not centuries, in the future, but I have no doubt it will happen. After all, 100 years ago, people thought the very idea of journeying through space at all was laughable. But what else has happened in the past century?

Two World Wars. A deadly plague that would have wiped out almost all of humanity if it had come any earlier. (The Spanish influenza outbreak of 1918, statistically the most deadly disease humanity has ever faced, would have been unstoppable without medical knowledge.) Nuclear Crisis. By God, it's AMAZING we survived the 1900s. All of that, long before we have a chance of traveling to infinity and beyond.

Civilization has a natural tendency to self-destruct, once it reaches a certain stage. Why? To quote Rei Ayanami, “Man fears the darkness, so he scrapes away at the edges of it with fire.” We've been make little, gradual progress with technology since we evolved into our earliest form, but what happens when the fires we're spreading fill the whole room, and no progress can be made? The answer is easy- we burn. Self-destruct. End of program, everyone gets hugged and turns into Tang, or primordial ooze, or whatever.

On that cheery note, let's talk American republican politics. Yay, old white men insulting each others' ideas in a polite way! On TELEVISION!

The field in the voting primaries has been particularly insane, with one candidate lurching forward and taking the lead, to suddenly fall back and never be heard from again. They have a common goal, to become president, and they are all tearing each other apart and destructing campaigns so well and so systematically that they're likely going to make it impossible for any among them to win. Politics makes an excellent microcosm of humanity, mainly because it shows both who we trust to represent us and what humans are capable of given power. The presidency, for those candidates, is the dream at the end of the line, the thing that would have been impossible a few years ago but that they all desperately seek. Is this starting to sound familiar?

I'm saying is, the presidency is an alien species. President Obama is actually a human shaped shell run robotically from the inside by a bunch of tiny Daleks. One of those sentences is true, in a metaphorical way.

Before they can reach office- before we can contact aliens- Herman Cain will be a pervert and drop the race- we will start a nuke war, and die out. Rick Perry will fumble with his words and leave the race- we will develop advanced robots that will turn on us and exterminate all carbon-based life. In pursuit of a goal, individuals have as much of a self-destructive tendency as society as a whole.

Society, human, alien, or whatever else, will implode on itself the more advanced it becomes. Wars could not kill our species until we gained the technology, just recently, that enabled us to do so. Flus and plagues cannot wipe life from the world unless they spread across the ocean on our boats and our planes. We are approaching the climax stage, and we will reach it long before we can travel to meet our celestial neighbors.

That, my friends, is the answer to the Fermi paradox, which turns out to be more like The Hedgehog's Dilemma. The more we interact with others and advance, the more we prick ourselves and get hurt. Politics, evolution, and scientific progress both save us and doom us at the same time. After all, would we even desire to meet our brothers in space if we did not have they scientific knowledge to know they could exist?


That was a guest post from Kat, a friend of mine who is President of Australia and also an alien herself. Thanks very much to Kat for this fantastic post.

Happy Martin Luther King Day to everyone, tomorrow. Do some charity, huh? Or make a special effort or resolution to connect with not just people of other races or religions, but people who you just normally wouldn't hang out with. Because that's what it's all about, isn't it? Everyone coming together despite their differences. A world united by the acknowledgement that everyone is an individual. Peace. Unity. Love.

Or something.



Gabi said...

I really enjoyed this :D
You should be a science writer, Kat.

I like the idea of hanging out with different people tomorrow. People are kind of scary. But I will DO IT FOR MANKIND.

Fungus Muse said...

Well, this was definitely interesting here, even if my brain hasn't entirely processed it.

So I'm just going to say that I love you because I think you made a reference to Sailor Moon, unless there's more than one Moon Kingdom.

Well that would've been a lovely way to spend my MLK Jr. Day, especially after using my weekend to make people hate me... And then I didn't. D: