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Is There Anybody Out There?

Hey, y'all! Over here!

So…is there?

A U.K. research team says there could be 36 alien civilizations with long-distance communications capability right here in our ol’ Milky Way.

To come up with this number, the research team took into account two “astrobiological Copernican limits” (sounds like they made that up, doesn’t it?). The first limit assumes intelligent life formed less than 5 billion years ago, like on Earth. The second limit is the star the planet orbits; it would be similar to Earth’s sun. A mainline G-type yellow dwarf. I’m not an astro- anything, but I’ve always understood that G-types are pretty rare. Anyway, the research team assumed the alien sun would have a metal content equal to Sol. As for the tech, to qualify for our 36, the aliens would have to have been sending out signals for about 100 years or so. Like Earth. Oh, and they estimate these civilizations are 17,000 light years away. We can’t contact them with our current tech, and if their tech level is the same as ours, they can’t contact us.

Assume makes an ass of u and me.

Helluva lot of assumptions, yeah? Not to mention the “like us” requirement.

Look. I get what the team was trying to do. They never assumed these aliens were humanoid. They never said that. And I get the why of their astrobiological Copernican limits because what else is there? I even get the why of a mainline G-type yellow dwarf. I appreciate the team’s hard work in pondering how to set up their parameters, and I’m impressed they were able to winnow the number of alien civilizations to 36.


Does their work have any utility? Let’s say they’re “right.” We’ve been sending out signals for about 100 years. Let’s say most of those signals fall into the “water hole,” at 1420-1720 MHz. Let’s further say it’s been within the last 50 years that we’ve been sending communication signals at 0.001 MHz like the Pioneer spacecraft. Our alien civilizations have done and are doing the same. And all these signals are traveling at the speed of light. Well, if the nearest civilization is 17,000 light years, and we’ve both been transmitting for 100 years, that doesn’t get us very far, does it? We’re not going to hear from them, nor they from us, for another 16,900 years. By then, will it even matter? Either we’ll have migrated to the stars because we’ve made Earth unlivable, or we’ll have destroyed ourselves.

If by some miracle we’re still here in 16,900 years, okay, that’ll be something.

Am I being too hard on them? I mean, I’m sure they didn’t do this just for funsies. At least I hope not. Maybe it’s a springboard for further research?

Ma, somebody scarfed my porridge!

Could they take their astrobiological Copernican limit and apply it to mainline K-type orange dwarfs? K-types are cooler than G-types, but K-types are far more plentiful. If a planet is in a K-type’s Goldilocks zone and has water, what then? If there’s life, would it have been possible for it have evolved enough to develop higher intelligence?

Wonder what they would look like. Would they have the same body planes that we do? You know–coronal, sagittal, transverse, and median. They could be bipedal, or not. What about fingers? And an opposable thumb? They could have specialized tentacles, I guess. For an octopus, grabbing and holding on to anything is easy-peasy.

Now. If our aliens do have tentacles, what would their machinery look like? How would they operate them? Maybe levers. But what about the machine itself? What would it look like, if it was built by tentacled bioforms?

Uh-oh. I’m running away with myself again. Happens, sometimes.

But damn, is it ever so much fun!



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