Why Aliens Might Contact Us?
April 4, 2010 14 Comments
This is one of the hardest questions in this article to answer. Because it is simply unlikely that we would possess any quality of such importance to advanced civilizations to make it worth their while to come all this way to meet us. Unlike the basic premises of many invasion films, so far as we can tell today Earth is by no means a spectacularly rich source of rare commodities; in the TV mini series “V”, reptilian aliens come to steal our water and possibly eat us; yet water is actually far more abundant in the form of ice in vast clouds of comets surrounding our solar system (and probably most others), not to mention much easier and more economical to access than the oceans found at the bottom of a planetary gravity well. As for food, advanced aliens could produce any sort of food they desired, including herds of human beings if they wanted, far cheaper and more easily at home, than traveling hundreds of lightyears for take out. No matter how tasty mankind found some delicacy among the distant stars, I doubt that we’d mount an all out effort costing hundreds of trillions of dollars to go collect the real thing. At the very most we might take a small sample on which to base production of the food at home. And we’d only do that if it were practical for other reasons; it certainly wouldn’t be our sole or primary purpose in such a voyage.
Another tired science fiction theme is that of aliens wanting a new home, and the Earth being the best choice in the galaxy. Please! There has to be plenty of Earth-like worlds out there, probably many of them still pristine and serene, populated by no large land animals to fear, possessed of seas well stocked with fish, and the landscape breathtaking with vistas of vast old growth forests; in other words, there’s many worlds out there which a civilization like our own would consider much closer to paradise than our presently crowded and soiled planet. So advanced aliens selecting Earth over all these others as their new home could use some heavy duty tutoring in their shopping skills.
Perhaps advanced aliens might want to steal our technology? This is even a greater stretch than the Earth-as-Paradise theory, since lightspeed or faster tech based civilizations would find little here in our wooden mousetraps and sophistocated metal sling shots (guns) that would increase their living standards or pique their curiosity.
Maybe they merely want us as slaves? Or pets? Again, they could more easily and cheaply produce us at their own home planet for such purposes, than they could to come all the way here to capture us in large numbers fully grown, and then transport us back again.
Maybe they’re lonely, and just looking for a friend? Or curious? This could well be closer to the truth in many cases than anything described above. It’s not too difficult to envision an advanced race wanting to meet other intelligent species simply for reasons of difference, and learning about the natural diversity of evolution on different planets. Of course, it’s also true that by a certain stage most advanced civilizations will be able to construct new intelligent races on their own, without the need to search for natural-grown races like us.
Maybe they are mentally ill or unbalanced (as we would perceive them), and simply looking for someone to harm or kill or enslave? Unfortunately, given the significant chances of nomadic, displaced, and injured refugees floating about the galaxy, not to mention the warlike totalitarians looking for prizes easily taken, as well as roving ‘Berserker’ vessels and more, this possibility could be just as likely as that of benevolent curiosity stated before. In other words, we take great risks advertising ourselves to the stars the way we do today (circa 2000).
There’s also this last point: Mankind is presently enjoying a steady increase in the astronomical observation and detection means at his disposal. Within decades we may be able to view planets in many other solar systems as well as we do those in our own today– even without the need to venture beyond our own system with probes. And yes, we should expect more advanced civilizations to far surpass that– to ultimately be able to do reasonably complete and accurate computer simulations of the entire galaxy or universe (including Earth and humanity) without ever leaving home (after sufficient early sampling and observation had been done to gain the proper initiating conditions of course– otherwise chaotic systems cannot be properly projected).
But after any race comes to have such a simulator (and related technologies), why would they leave home at all?
Why should we be interested in who (or what) is out there?
*Defense against natural calamities. Enormous comets or asteroids have collided with the Earth many times in its history, occasionally eradicating much of the life which existed on the planet at the time. We need to know about those still flying through space which might pose a risk to our survival, and we need to have the means of diverting, destroying, or otherwise escaping them. In extreme cases, nothing short of a self-sufficient Mars or Moon colony might survive such an impact upon the Earth.
*Protection of our local resources from outsiders. We’ll badly need our local supply of asteroids, comets, and planets to obtain the raw materials to supply our future. Without them to fuel our efforts we could well be doomed in a variety of ways, over the long term.
Luckily, it appears no one has been digging around in our backyard while we were evolving to star farer adulthood here on Earth (so far anyway)
*Defense against belligerents. For reasons of self-defense we must be concerned with just who and what might exist within several hundred lightyears or so of us. Specifically, the spherical region defined by a seven hundred lightyear radius is especially important to us, as it contains virtually all the major threats that could impact us during our present socio-technological window of vulnerability, assuming we are faced with aliens possessing drives capable of substantial fractions of lightspeed or better. If there are aliens equipped with FTL drives within this range (Faster-Than-Light), we are at even greater risk. We may have much less to fear beyond this 700 lightyear boundary however, as our own telltale signals would require more than 700 years from origination to inform anyone there of our presence (and we might not be quite so vulnerable anymore, by that date).
But just knowing about who is in the vicinity is not enough. We also need to be well established in space ourselves, for a variety of reasons, many related to natural dangers as well as those of possibly hostile aliens.
As touched upon above, any aliens with the technological capabilities to reach us across space would also possess the ability to destroy or severely damage us in a wide variety of ways. And it might not be so easy to arrange survival from such a threat as simply setting up colonies elsewhere in the solar system, since these same aliens could easily root out and destroy or enslave those as well. No, in order for humanity to have a good chance of surviving such an alien assault it would need not only an early warning system, and possibly outposts dispersed throughout the solar system, but colonies established in a few nearby systems as well. In the worst-case/last resort scenario, we might even require a contingency colony vessel headed for a very, very distant system, largely secret from humanity as a whole to protect the ship from any alien conquerers scouring our databases in an effort to kill every last human being around.