I suppose this question has been asked facetiously more than once – in fact Enrico Fermi may have asked it first. There is of course, a large proportion of the population who steadfastly believes in them, and a substantial subset of these that have been up front and personal with the same. And then there are some of your ‘friends’: with many it is easier to believe they are thinly-disguised or badly-engineered aliens than that their behaviour is typically human. But I digress.
Because I lectured primarily (in the past) on the past, albeit in the shallower parts of “deep time” as the historians of science now call the geological past, I am still used to speaking in the thousands or even millions of years as if they were numbered as sand grains on Newton’s beach. Newton incidentally was cagey about deep time past (although he did ponder the cooling rates of red-hot cannon-balls, and no prizes for spotting an obvious analogy) – but his theories made clear he thought in deep-time future: for it was going to be a long (read L O N G ) time before gravity collapsed all those well-spaced stars into some sort of cosmic city-dump, which then self-compacted to a BIG-BANG potent particle (although I don’t think Newton knew this bit). No, I’m not digressing.
On the matter of time : why are they here now ? In the framework of deep time we emerged as “rational” beings acquiring technology a mere split cosmic second ago. So its odd they should be here just now unless they are extremely attuned to life forms, like those guys with fresh hot tarmac for your cracked driveway, who “just happen to be in the area with some left over.” Of course they could have teleported here – after some curious tremors in sub-space (and you can’t blame HADRON for that). That would make lots of sense. Jumped down a black hole and emerged at an Ohio pig farm. Alternatively, we could now suspect they just squeezed along those rolled up extra-dimensions we hear about – and if so its no wonder they look like pink triangles with pointy green hats, and g*d knows what they looked like beforehand So that “THEY” ARE here (so we are told by the moral majority who are surprisingly conservative on other ethnic issues) is a bit of a problem.
I can tell you one thing about Aliens: they aren’t the least bit entrepreneurial. If they were, think what they could sell to us as under the counter DVDs. If they were holding a watching brief on earth for the last few million years on account it was quite a good reality show – Dinosaurs, and then a huge asteroid slamming into us (give them the benefit and assume it was coming this way anyway), despite some long patches of tranquility (while horses evolved, grass learnt to grow, and the Atlantic got wide enough to make money on fuel charges) while they holed up in the freezer with a motion sensor pointing at a few choice spots – like the Mediterranean when it dried up, and then refilled. But there would be plenty to report on once the Ice Age started. And once Quaternary science found its feet, and evolutionary biology got on the DNA rails, just imagine what they could sell. IMAX is pathetic – they’d have the real McCoy. With the technology we have to assume they have they could easily hack Amazon.com, and have no need to pay the taxman. They could direct dial the SETI project too. Or for more fun bounce an “intelligent” signal around a few rocky asteroids before letting it sneak round the moon down to the telescope all innocent looking. Which begs the question – what counts as humour with a super-intelligence? And would that signal say? “Keep Walmart open 24/7”?
Well I have to report nobody has tried to sell me a useful career-making DVD, and I could think of several I would sell my non-existent soul for. So basically I am back to friends. Maybe they missed with the transplant and there are two aliens inside, unhappy about it.
Anyway, phone if you get an offer for a way out DVD with no code number on it. However if they landed in Hollywood first – take me to their leader, later – that’s not the DVD I’m looking for.
PS Who DO you dial if you meet an alien? The
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Been there since 1962! But I can’t find a phone number. Whats an actual alien supposed to do?