Presently, our only tangible research into the cultural and societal impacts of extra-terrestrial life arriving on Earth seems limited to the fanciful concoctions from the Hollywood daydream machine. Will aliens greet us with a peaceful hand-gesture like they did to that pig-owner guy in the Star Trek movie? Will they fire up the blasters and devastate our cities like that movie where the Fresh Prince teams up with that jazz singer?
Actually, people – and I’m talking about educated people who probably wear business attire to work – have put time and effort into calculating precisely how our society would react to a party of interstellar visitors. Given the unlikelihood of this ever occurring, one could make the argument that the dude who stacks salad plates at your local Sizzler is contributing more to the smooth functioning of society than these educated folks, but I’m not here to make that argument. I’m just the messenger.
When it comes to the purported existence of our little green friends, I find it unfathomably selfish to believe we’re the only slabs of meat who have put together a society in this vast universe. I also believe it likely that someone else has fashioned some sort of tin can (or whatever they have in place of tin) and blasted into space. But to believe they’ll stumble upon us, or even care to say hi if they do? That’s where my credulity glides off the track. Still, it’s fun to daydream.
And always smart to keep some just-in-case signage lying around.
For thirty years, the SETI Institute (that’s Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence for you acronym-lovers) has been using science, research and speculation to look into the likelihood and nature of possible ETs who might drop by unannounced. The first part of the discussion centers around how they contact us. Do they send us a coded message like the ones we’ve launched into deep space? Do they take over our computer systems and implant a digital hello on Google’s front page? Or will they do a pop-in, no prior call, completely oblivious to the fact that we already made plans to watch the game with some old friends from college? Read more…
My neighbor – not the ethically-starved bag of rancid douche against whom I was once plotting; this is the guy beside him – has a gigantic antenna on his roof. The thing has been there since we moved in back in ought-six, and I have no idea what he does with it. He might use it for ham radio, maybe for shortwave radio, or perhaps he forces lemurs to race to the top late at night, long after I’m asleep.
I suppose – and this is a long-shot here – he could be a spy.
Imagine you woke up this morning and took a walk to your local Radio Shack, searching for a piece of antiquated technology which you could adopt as a hobby. Perhaps you picked up a shortwave radio. Then, because you’re interested in meeting new people around the world but a little put off by the excessive quantity (and quality!) of penises you met on Chatroulette, you begin to fiddle with the band until you come across a voice in the darkness. A new friend perhaps?
No, this person is simply reciting numbers, and she wants nothing to do with you.
Unless they are these numbers. In that case, GET OFF THE ISLAND!!!
You have just stumbled upon a numbers station, one of the great mysteries of the radio world. Sometimes the voice is uttering letters, other times you might hear snippets of music or perhaps Morse Code. But it’s the numbers – those disembodied faceless recordings, dispassionately dropping digits like discarded wads of bubblegum… those are the real curiosity. Read more…