THE BLOG
05/26/2010 12:49 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How Did Extraterrestrials Survive Their Nuclear Age?

However overwhelming a world or national crisis may seem, one can't help but suspect that it isn't entirely new. If you're sympathetic to the view that life exists elsewhere in the universe, it follows that other planets have confronted problems similar to ours on earth and lived to see another day (however long that is in another galaxy). For example, how did the denizens of another planet survive an era when its states, federations, or territories were armed with nuclear weapons or their extraterrestrial equivalent?

Among those unsympathetic to evidence that expeditionaries from deep space frequent our environs are theorists who would argue that the inhabitants of other worlds failed to outlive the class of doomsday weapon peculiar to their planet. For example, the Daily Galaxy writes about Mike Treder of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, who . . .

. . . suggests that since there is, at this point, no direct and/or widely apparent evidence that extraterrestrial life exists, it likely means [that, for instance] they have all run into some sort of "cosmic roadblock" [such as] an arms race involving nano-built weaponry [that] eventually destroys them, or at least prevents their expansion beyond a small area.

As it might have played out on the planets in question, when it comes to earth, the. . .

. . . faster technology is advancing, the more our "leap now, look later" nature appears to grow as well. If evolution on Earth serves as a somewhat typical template for evolution of other life forms, then becoming a truly advanced civilization must be a very daunting task indeed and a very rare, if not impossible, achievement.

If aliens are visiting or monitoring the earth, they've obviously navigated around the "cosmic roadblock" presented by the dark side of their technology and eventually developed the ability to travel deep into space. Recently, operating on the assumption that they've yet to establish contact with humans, Stephen Hawking generated significant discussion with his observation that it might not be to our advantage. His rationale, as summed up by scientists contributing to the Journal of Cosmology: "Aliens visiting newly discovered planets, like Earth, would place their own interests above those of unsophisticated indigenous residents." Before sampling the scientists' responses to Hawking, let's glance at that of author Robert Wright, who also addresses our ability to outlast our possession of nuclear weapons. [Emphasis added.]

. . . we first have to survive . . . weapons that could blow up the world. ... Certainly the challenge's technological underpinning -- that the capacity to escape your solar system arrives well after the capacity to destroy your planet -- could reflect the order in which the laws of physics reveal themselves to any inquisitive species, not a peculiar intellectual path taken by our species.

In other words, if a planet has developed the ability to penetrate deep space, it has, by definition, successfully dealt with its nuclear age. Furthermore, he writes, if "they'd have mustered the moral progress necessary to avoid ruining their planet . . . we'd be safe in their hands."

Hawking's aliens, on the other hand, "would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. ... I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet."

That's if, as Treder and Wright alluded, they hadn't actually blown it up. Anyway, Hawking's perspective is in accord with those who believe aliens come to earth to use fertile earth women for breeding, presumably because the reproductive capacities of their own females have been despoiled by their poisonous environment.

One resource that extraterrestrials might not come in search of, according to Harold Geller of George Mason University at the Journal of Cosmology, is energy:

Research into the energy requirements of interstellar space travel has determined that [they] require at the very minimal . . . fusion reactors [which] would likely be fueled by some form of hydrogen. ... Why go to another star system just for hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the universe? [As for] heavy metal elements such as would be found on a planet like Earth, these same elements could be produced as the byproduct of [said] fusion engine. ... Then there is the energy of the sun. Our galaxy is estimated to contain at least 500 billion stars. Andromeda is believed to consist of over a trillion suns.

The point is, peaceful or malevolent in intent, extraterrestrials have succeeded, at the very least, in not destroying their species with the advanced weaponry they inevitably developed. Should they be more real than imaginary, the advantages of contact with them might outweigh the risks. For instance, if they've destroyed their planet and have doomed themselves to eternal migration, let that be a lesson to us. But if they managed to entirely dodge the bullet of a nuclear age, we should not only establish contact with them, but pick their brains to find out how.

First posted at the Faster Times.

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