Friday, July 1, 2016

Extraterrestrial Contact: Those Damn Aliens

Independence Day, one of the better marauding alien movies, is back with part two. It has some people considering space defense. It’s not an unreasonable topic, if you think alien civilizations exist and that they have the ability to travel to Earth. A Forbes contributor, Bruce Dorminey, recently took up the subject. He talked to physicists to discuss how humans might prevent a sneak attack. Not surprisingly it all comes down to the technology available to visiting aliens. If they travel at less than the speed of light they would probably be detectable. If they know something about physics that we don’t know- and can travel faster than the speed of light- we would be in trouble.

The other issue is space defense. Detection is one thing- but what do you do next? People have suggested building space defense…usually nuclear missiles in space. That is currently banned as part of an international UN treaty for the peaceful uses of space. No one wants another country putting nuclear missiles in space.

It’s unlikely anyone will spend money on what is probably the biggest “what if” in human history. There is no evidence that intelligent alien life exists, let alone that they have the technological ability to travel here. This is just speculation now, but can you imagine the reaction if some day we do discover intelligent alien life out there? I would suspect that there would be an immediate call for detection and defense platforms in space. There could even be a space arms race. We will need to carefully consider the circumstances if that does occur. If the aliens are much more technologically advanced than us- defense may be a moot point. And no matter what we would have to consider the risk of putting missiles in space. Exactly who would control them?

In the meantime, stick with the movie. I haven’t seen it yet, but I would guess the humans win in the end.

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