Archive for the 'Not-so-science' Category

First Contact Scenarios – Confusion

Imagine that an intelligent alien species has discovered us, and that they have the ability to journey to Earth to make first contact.

It may sound like a fantastical scenario better suited to fiction than to science, and for more than two centuries this has largely been the case, but over the last few years a number of scientists have begun to debate first contact scenarios, both in scholarly domains and in the mass media.

What do you think first contact would be like?

I’ve had a few ideas of my own, inspired heavily by sci-fi I admit, and in previous posts I’ve looked at scenarios in which the aliens may not even be interested in us, or that they may make first contact with us, but covertly. In this post I’ll look at the idea that they do try to make an overt first contact, but that we may have a mutual problem in understanding each other.

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First Contact Scenarios – Espionage

Imagine that intelligent alien life exists, that its discovered humanity, and that it has the technology to reach us. What would first contact between humanity and aliens be like?

In the first post in this series I looked at the idea that advanced alien civilisations might be totally indifferent to our existence and would simply choose to ignore us.

In the other scenarios in this series I’ll assume that they are interested in us, and in this post, that they arrive on Earth, but in a rather covert fashion.

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In defense of ‘Abrams Trek’

A lot of people don’t like the 2009 Star Trek re-boot directed by J.J. Abrams. A lot of these people are Star Trek fans.

I think they’re insane though. It’s a great film and a great way to revitalise a frankly tired franchise.

There’s a lot to like about Star Trek, but Abrams realised what its best asset was, and consequently hit the nail square on the head when he made his film…

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First Contact Scenarios – Indifference

I’m planning on writing a series of posts on different scenarios for first contact with intelligent alien life. I’ve been inspired by some insightful comments from this post and have taken lots of my ideas from those who commented there. Thanks everyone who commented.

It’s feels as though this topic has been treated as a fanciful distraction by much of the serious scientific community until quite recently, and has very much been delegated to science fiction authors, fringe scientists and assorted lunatics. But as of late some big-name scientists have joined in the fun, and this topic is gaining an air of credibility. This isn’t to say that science fiction hasn’t made contributions to this field; I think Sci-Fi has provided some intelligent and very creative first contact scenarios and much of what I’ll be writing has been inspired or explored by Sci-Fi.

So lets assume that intelligent alien life exists, that its discovered humanity, and that it has the technology to communicate with us, either face-to-face or using an alternative method.

The first of my proposed scenarios is that the aliens will be totally indifferent.

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Star Wars: The true meaning of Christmas

This is a piece I’ve written for SciFi Now, a brilliant British magazine dedicated to, you guessed it, SciFi. But also horror, fantasy, games and stuff. Go to their website right now.

They’ve asked for people to submit their own stories about their Star Wars memories and love of the franchise.  Mine’s about my earliest experience with Star Wars and it’s deep Christmas meaning. I’m not sure if they’ll use it, but fingers crossed.

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If you like it, nominate it

Ever read the Open Laboratory?

It’s a collection of the best science blog posts, compiled once a year by a group of scientists and science writers. I highly recommend it. Its written for people with no science background, so anyone can read it, and the posts are generally entertaining and thought-provoking. They cover a wide range of scientific topics and a variety of styles, as the anthology includes poems, short stories and cartoons, in addition to more typical blog posts.

You can read more about it here, and buy copies from previous years here.

And here’s the crunch, Open Laboratory is now taking submissions for 2011. If you’ve enjoyed reading any of my blog posts, and you think they’re worthy to be considered for the Open Laboratory, then please can you nominate them for me? A nomination takes a few minutes to complete, and can be done here. I’d be very grateful.

I’m not totally self-obsessed though, so the same goes for other science blogs too. If you see a great post then please nominate it, and maybe let me know, as I’m always on the lookout for interesting science blogs. Also, if you think you have a post that’s worthy of nomination and you’re looking for people to nominate it, then post a link in the comments below, and I’ll see what I think.


The Genius of Terry Pratchett

OK, another post that doesn’t have anything to do with astrobiology, but hopefully someone will enjoy it.

Terry Pratchett is a British author who specialises in comic fantasy. His most famous works are the Discworld novels, a series of 38 books set on a disc that travels through space on the back of a giant cosmic turtle. He was the best-selling UK author throughout the 1990s, and the 7th most read foreign author in the US.

Why am I writing about Terry Pratchett?

Well, when I was young, probably between the ages of about 7 and 14, I loved his books and have many fond memories of reading them. In 2008 I learned that Terry Pratchett had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and in 2010 I found out that he had been involved in campaigning for the rights of people to commit suicide, and the right’s of others to assist in suicide. So he was on my mind, if not a bit towards the back of it.

I’ve recently returned to live in the UK and have been nostalgically revisiting my past, and picked up a copy of The Colour of Magic, the first Discworld book. It reminded me of how talented Terry Pratchett is and how crushingly depressing it is that he has been struck down with such an awful disease.

I’ve begun re-reading the Discworld series and the shear brilliance of Pratchett’s imagination and talent inspired me to write this post, and hopefully this will inspire someone else to read these books or even to go back and revisit them

Continue reading ‘The Genius of Terry Pratchett’

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