by Stuart Atkinson
Page 1 of 2Chances are that I'll be at work when the newsflash comes. I'll be standing
there at my tank, up to my elbows in water and paint, shaking my head in
contempt and disbelief as the DJ mispronounces Shanie Twain's christian name
yet **again**, when he will interrupt his inane drivel and say those words
that always get my pulse racing: "Er... we're going over to the newsroom for
a newsflash..." And then his place will be taken by shocked-sounding
newsreader, who'll open with the words "We're getting reports..."
It's happened in exactly that way already, many times, but the reports have
always been of plane crashes, political resignations, oil spills, familiar,
terrestrial happenings. Ah, but one day my friends, one fine, wonderful,
glorious nothing-will-ever-be-the-same-again day, it'll be The Report, and
the newsreader will say: "We're getting reports that US scientists are
preparing to announce the discovery of a radio signal from outer space..."
One day the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence will succeed, and I'll
put down my brush, run outside, look up at the sky and smile, thinking "I
knew it... I knew it..." before punching the air and whooping "Yes!!!!"
Of course I know opinion is divided on this one. Of course I know a lot of
you reading this will be shaking your heads and thinking "Hello, Star Trek
nut..!" but you know what? I don't care. I am not - and never have been -
afraid to stand up and be counted as a SETI believer, and you know why?
Because I know we're not Alone, I just *know* it.
But how? What makes me so sure? After all, there's no direct evidence, no
silvery craft settling down on to the White House lawn, nothing like that.
What makes me so cocky?
For a start, simple statistics are on my side. Our Galaxy is a catherine
wheel of several hundred million stars. If only a tiny percentage of those
stars have planets, and if only a tiny percentage of those planets have
life, and if only a tiny percentage of those planets develop intelligent
life, and if only a tiny percentage of those intelligent lifeforms develop
into creatures capable of listening for and transmitting radio signals, that
still means there are a LOT of extraterrestrial DJs out there mispronouncing
the names of their own goddess-like singers...
But apart from those statistics, there's the science. When you think about
it, we're just big walking bags of chemicals, and those same chemicals are
found everywhere in the universe around us. Look up at a starry sky and
you're looking at vast amounts of water, carbon, whatever. Those biological
jigsaw puzzle pieces must have assembled themselves into the right picture
out there somewhere, don't you think?
Also, it's just downright arrogant to think that All This is ours. I mean,
come *on*, how big can one species' ego be? Zoom out from the Earth now,
mentally... see the Sun shrink to a bright yellow spark... see stars crowd
around it... see them form clouds... see those clouds form a spiral pattern,
a might, pinwheeling galaxy... see how that galaxy is surrounded by
others..? See how they form clusters..? You really think all that is ours?
Just ours? Yeah, right.
Did someone just mention UFOs? Oh please, don't get me started. I am a firm
believer in the existence of alien life, but I most certainly do not believe
in UFOs. I do not believe *anyone* has ever seen one. Apart from the fact
that all potential UFO hangars are simply too far away to make them possible
- we have a pretty good idea of what our stellar neighbourhood is like, and
our observations of spectral types etc suggests there's no chance of us
being visited by a "welcome" pie-wielding ET - I just can't believe that a
highly advanced, stardrive using intelligent race would come all this way
just to buzz about and annoy us, like kids mischeviously flicking the ears
of the person sitting in front of them, can you?
As much as I'd like to believe it, there are no UFOs hiding in hangars or
underground chambers either. In a world where newspapers, magaziones and TV
shows pay - excuse the pun - astronomical amounts of money for scandalous
tales of politicians and showbusiness personalities, could all of the
alleged thousands of people who work at the bases where crashed UFOs are
back-engineered resist the temptation to pay off all their bills - and pay
for their kids' college education, or their sick partner's medical treatment
- just by sneaking out a photo..?
And as for abductions... can someone tell me why, when every clear night
there are thousands of amateur astronomers standing outside on their own,
exposed in the middle of fields, the Abductors prefer to scour the roads and
dirt tracks until they find a battered old pick-up truck, and then grab poor
old Jeb or Dwayne from Idaho who can tell them nothing which might interest
them? Why not beam up someone standing by a telescope, who is obviously
familiar with stars and the universe?Next Page
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Stuart Atkinson, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.