Sunday, February 13, 2005

Scientists gravitate toward E.T. notions

"But what will happen next isn't clear, although one thing is: There won't be any manned visits to these planets anytime soon, as they probably are tens or thousands of light-years away.

"Berkley's Marcy ran through a series of calculations suggesting there could easily be thousands of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way.

"'There's only one problem: Where are they? Why haven't we seen them?' Marcy said.

"Researchers have found no writing on the moon, no crashed spaceships on Mars, no messages floating through space."

Here we go with Fermi's so-called "paradox" again. Firstly, we know next to nothing about the Moon and Mars; it's perfectly conceivable -- even probable -- that we will discover conclusive evidence of intelligence if we ever get serious about planetary exploration. Already, we've seen tantalizing hints, as I attempt to summarize in "After the Martian Apocalypse."

Secondly, the problems with conventional SETI sky-searches are innumerable. We're just discovering that our planet possesses a collective unconscious and toying with the prospects of quantum entanglement . . . yet we naively assume advanced aliens will be playing with radio transmitters and infrared lasers.

To make matters even more interesting, a new scientific paper has come to the defense of the UFO evidence, seriously proposing that we're sharing our niche of the galaxy -- and our airspace -- with at least one other intelligence (vastly more capable than our own, yet apparently benign).

"Why haven't we seen them?" My retort, as distressing as it may be to vested academic interests, is that it's very likely we already have.