Friday, 13 July 2012

Why Aliens Hate Us Already

Everyone knows that, no matter how small, there is a chance that aliens exist somewhere in the universe. There are loads of theories floating around, but anyone who knows anything about outer space (by which I mean scientists, the people whose job it is to study outer space; not pre-pubescent boys reading comic books or drunken idiots who see flashing lights in the sky conveniently near an airport) can pretty much guarantee that alien life forms may not be little green men and they certainly will not live on Mars. We have rovers on Mars and they have confirmed that the closest we will get to life there will be bacteria and that nothing intelligent is likely to be found there until it has had a chance to evolve for a few million years first.

But there is bacteria everywhere. There are tiny, ignorant, wriggly little life forms – the kind that you can find in cheese – pretty much everywhere in the universe and we are only starting to see them now because we have only recently managed to build technology that can see things that small in places that far away. There is a lot of water in space and where there is water there is precisely this kind of life. There are lots of other liquids which could also be a starting point for different kinds of life – kinds that thrive on something other than water. It is not unreasonable to believe that there are lots of tiny living things that, in a few billion years, could end up as fish. But that really is not the kind of life about which anyone cares.

If modern cinema is to be believed, the kind of alien life forms about which people care are the kinds that we can blow up. Even the films where they hold the secrets to the origins of life have some explosions and a fair amount of inter-planetary warfare. But, as every sadistic schoolboy will figure out by the time he hits his teens, there is no satisfaction in blowing something up if there is not risk that it will not find back. Unless it plays Dungeons and Dragons, but then only because it hilarious to see small children trying to create force-fields with their eyes.

For any kind of inter-planetary war to occur, alien life needs to be intelligent, by which we mean about as advanced as we are. In order for any kind of contact to be made – for nothing can be agreed between peoples, neither peace nor war, unless they have at least made contact – aliens need to be about as technologically advanced as we are. They can be no more than fifty years or so behind us and their technology must send and receive signals in the same way as we do, otherwise all our digital messages will be lost in space. In the same way that you need a phone to receive a phone call, if they do not have technology capable of receiving the data that we transmit then they simply will not get it and we will never make contact.

This means that if it is possible for us to make contact with alien life any time in the near future, then they must be at least as sophisticated as we are. A lot of people (and by people, again, I mean scientists; I mean people whose opinions on the subject are based on evidence and thus worth considering) believe that if any alien life form is going to contact us, they will be more advanced than we are. This makes a lot of sense; in terms of the age of our universe, we have not had this sort of technology for very long. When your solar system is 13.2 billion years old, fifty-odd years is not a lot of time.

This means that alien life forms capable to making contact with us already have better technology that we do, which means that they can receive all of the signals that we transmit already. If they want to, they can intercept our telephone calls, listen to our radio and watch our television programmes.
This is the worrying thing. They can access everything we have ever broadcast as soon as it gets within range of their planet. They will not only get the messages transmitted especially for them by the scientists involved in inter-planetary research. They will also get X Factor and TOWIE and all that other rubbish. Even programmes that suggest that there are intelligent human beings on Earth – take, for example, Criminal Minds or Bones, both featuring geniuses among their protagonists – will leave them with the impression that people are dark and murderous more often than they are kind and giving. Our documentaries lean far too heavily on Nazis and other fascists and our music channels feature a lot of semi-naked people considering that we are generally encouraged on this planet to wear clothes when out in public. Do we really want aliens getting all their information about us from The Jeremy Kyle Show? Or, worse, The Jeremy Kyle Show USA?

Chances are, the fact that we have not made contact with aliens does not mean that they are not out there. It could simply be that they have seen the state of our television and they have used it to judge us and hate us already.

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