Monday, April 26, 2010

The Aliens are Coming! The Aliens are Coming!

Anybody remember "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" (1966)? Now you know where I got the title for this post.

Remember the Klaatu aliens? ("The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951)) Or Star Trek's Organians? Non-corporeal beings - so you just know they're so much nicer than us. More evolved, you know.

Or the aliens in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977). The people who had been committing wholesale kidnappings and property crimes up to and including grand theft-ocean liner? For generations? Reprogrammed some average Joe so that he abandoned his family and trekked across country to the landing site?

Then, when these aliens show up - and bodies that look like the kidnap victims shamble out of the ship - well, the aliens are such cute little guys with big eyes that NOBODY SEEMS TO SEE A PROBLEM. In it's own way, "Close Encounters" is scarier than anything in the Alien cycle.

Think Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956): except that small town doctor Dr. Miles Bennell and romantic interest Becky Driscoll, instead of being disturbed when they notice that people are being replaced by pod people - are very excited about this wonderful discovery, and set up a clinic for the pod people. I don't think the 1978 remake picked up on that idea. Maybe we'll see it in another remake: one that's more sensitive to the feelings of pod people. Or would be, if they had any.

I had Something In Mind for This Post: What was It?

I started out with aliens, then mentioned Russians, and then rambled on about space aliens for a while. Right. I think I've got it.


It's nothing new: space aliens that are highly evolved - and still act a whole lot like people we don't like. "Independence Day" (1996, for example. Or "Mars Attacks!" (1996 - again).

Those movies were getting back to the well-established (well-worn?) sort of film we saw in the fifties: "The Angry Red Planet" (1959) and "War of the Worlds" (1953).

Moving on.

Looks like today's serious thinkers are moving away from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and drawing toward "Angry Red Planet" and "Mars Attacks!" I know: "Mars Attacks!" is a comedy. Or one of the most unintentionally-funny 'serious' movies I've ever seen.

For example:
"Do Aliens Exist? If So, Will They Kill Us?"
Space News, Discovery News (April 26, 2010)

"We're an inquisitive lot, we humans. But could our inquisitiveness ultimately kill us?

In a new Discovery Channel documentary "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking," the world's most recognized physicist speculates about different forms of alien life and explores efforts under way to search and communicate with intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations. However, he cautions that perhaps we shouldn't be advertising our location; perhaps we should just sit back and listen instead....

"...Mankind is all about resources; imagine if a more advanced civilization sees Earth as a bountiful supply of sustenance and sees our civilization as nothing more than ants crawling over a big juicy apple. Wouldn't they just wash us off?..."
Maybe. At least Hawking and company show evidence of having read H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds."

The article's assumption - that our SETI attempts at communication are what aliens would notice - has a point. On the other hand, Earth has been very noisy on radio frequencies for decades. That only started slacking off - maybe - when we started working more with cable and optic fiber networks.

That invasion fleet? They might not be after our resources. The commander might have orders to try reasoning with that party planet first: but do whatever it takes to stop their noise.

That's an idea that probably has been used: but I can't remember running into it.

Space Aliens and the Cold War

Every hear about fears of the Cold War inspiring movies like "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and the interminable 'serious' ancestors of "Mars Attacks?"

So have I

What If the Aliens are Friendly?

I suppose frail(?) humanity could be overrun by pillaging hordes of technologically advanced strip-miners.

On the other hand, what if the frontier of a civilization that's been around for a million years washed over the Solar system? And they weren't out to plunder our planet? They might even work out a deal where we got something in trade for not fussing when they swept up the asteroid belt.

Nice people. Really.

With nth-generation analogs of video games and soft drinks and designer jeans and things we haven't invented yet. All for sale at the local trade center.

That's a tired scenario, too, in a way. Technologically and economically powerful cultures - I'm over-simplifying horribly here - merged during the 19th and 20th century. And are overwhelming the last pockets of cultures that left the mainstream millennia ago.

We've been through this before, in a way. One reason so many European composers were busily writing pieces that incorporated folk tunes of their part of the world was that robust national cultures were overwhelming the smaller, more isolated little 'mini-cultures' within their borders.

Well, it's 'good enough for a story.'

I see I've written about this sort of thing before, sort of: Check out the first of the "Related posts."

Related posts:
I use IMDB as a resource for films - but with War of the Worlds (1953) they goofed. Big time.

Some of the photos associated with that Oscar-winning movie seem to be poster art for the movie. Or maybe CD covers.

The black-and-white photos of girls in silver makeup, with springs on their heads? I've no clue what they're from: but it wasn't the Byron Haskin movie.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day, 2010; Change; Opposable Thumbs and Responsibility

It's the 40th Earth Day.

I remember the first one, back in 1970. My take on the 40-year anniversary is summed up in a couple of posts:

Those were heady times: in several senses of the word. Quite a bit has changed in the four decades since that first Earth Day. Which is why I wrote so much about lint, this time around.

Change Happens

I've gotten the impression, now and then, that some of the more ardent environmentalists desperately want to keep Earth's ecosystem just the way it is. Or, rather, was: in about 1800.

That would take a lot of doing, I think. We live on a planet that may be coming out of a major period of continental glaciation. Or Earth may be in one of those brief interglacial periods, with more glaciers on the way: The last I heard, the jury was still out on that.

This planet orbits a star that's just a bit variable.

And Earth is covered with that sticky wet stuff we call "life." One of the things that's stayed the same during the last several hundred million years is that life changes.

For example: one of the reasons that recently-discovered Loricifera are important to scientists is that they live in an environment that's similar to this planet's oceans: about 600,000,000 years ago.

Locifera? They're animals. That don't use oxygen. And don't have mitochondria. At all.

Like I said: change happens.

With Opposable Thumbs Comes Great Responsibility

The fellow in the picture there might stick out in a crowd today, even with a haircut and contemporary clothes. On the other hand, we haven't changed all that much in the last 1,600,000 years. Like us, he lived in a house with a kitchen. The family didn't have Frigidaire appliances, and espresso wouldn't be developed for over a million years: But the more we find out about Homo Erectus, the more they start 'looking like' us.

Sure: his expression isn't what you see in newspapers, other than supermarket tabloids. But think of him saying something like "whaddaya mean, they only come in green or gray?!" or "you want three rocks, you carry one!"

What's the point?

Those folks were using fire to process their food.

That's a dangerous technology. I've written about this before. (December 9, 2009)

We learned how to use fire without setting fire to our surroundings - or ourselves. Accidents still happen, but we've learned how to deal with them.

Sure, we're changing the environment on Earth. We've been doing that for a long time. Now, we're doing it faster than we did a million years ago: but we're also learning faster. (Partly because we've got slightly bigger brains than the gentleman pictured above - partly, I think, because we've developed fairly robust information storage and retrieval technologies.)

And we're learning to use our power responsibly. We have to: for the same reason that our forebears had to learn how to use fire without killing themselves.

The Future Will Be Just Like Today: Except Where It's Different

Over the last few decades, I've watched a lake near Interstate 94 turn into ponds surrounded by marsh. I'm pretty sure the marsh is becoming meadow, but haven't gotten close enough to check. Minnesota's lakes are leftovers from the last continental glacier to cover this area. Given time, they'll all fill in.

Rivers and streams run fast enough to keep sediments in suspension while water passes through them. In lakes and ponds, the water slows down: giving particles time to settle to the bottom.

That's the way things work.

I miss that lake: it was one of the nice views on a route I often drove. We could still have it: if someone had decided to dredge it regularly. But that would have taken a great deal of effort: and I'm not at all sure it would be worth it. Or even a good idea.

I'm not at all surprised that temperatures on Earth are fluctuating. I'd be shocked if that wasn't happening.

But get upset about it? I've seen too many contradictory 'end of the world' best-sellers come and go for the latest crop to spark much interest. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (April 16, 2010), for starters)

As far as speculative fiction goes, I don't see me writing yet another apocalyptic vision of a dying Earth, victim of humanity's vile selfishness. There's been quite enough of that done already.

So, I want a World of the Future that looks just like 1950s America? Hardly.

A utopia? That's been done, too. Besides, I'd have a time writing that with a straight face.

A world with cities that are in effect artificial mountain ranges along most continental margins: miles high, with vast arrays that look like today's wind farms: except they're blowing air upslope, to maintain desirable weather patterns? (March 5, 2010)

Now you're talking.

Notice: desirable weather patterns. Not "normal" ones.

Would I feel at home in that world? Maybe, maybe not. For that matter, I don't think Daniel Boone would feel all that 'at home' in Manhattan's lower east side these days. But quite a few people don't mind living in New York City.

I think it depends on what a person gets used to, growing up.

That 'world of tomorrow' I sketched out? Parts of it would probably look quite 'normal' to us. Provided you didn't look at the sky, or the horizon.

Ever notice in the old Westerns, how you sometimes saw a radio tower or contrail in 'the wild west?'

Which is drifting into another topic.

Then there's the Gill Theory of Human Evolution.

Time to stop.

Related posts:More:

Friday, April 16, 2010

[Information] Power to the People!


Science fiction/speculative fiction writers often write about how they think science and/or technology will affect the human condition. Their expectations have run from overly-optimistic Utopias to the more currently-fashionable variations of 'and we're all gonna die.'

Generally, writers seem to realize that when technology changes, society changes. Sometimes it changes a lot.

We're going through a period where information technology is upsetting the status quo I've been familiar with. Personally, I like that - for reasons you'll probably see as you read this post.

If you read this post. It's a whole lot easier to go somewhere else on the Internet, than it was to find another article in a magazine.

Like I said, things are changing.
I've discussed the effect of technology - particularly information technology - on culture and society fairly often in another blog. Let's remember that "information technology" can, in principle, include quite a few data storage-and-retrieval methods:
"...I think there may have been something to the notion that people who live in small towns are, well, clueless commoners. In England, it would have been folks who didn't live within walking distance of London - were isolated, ignorant villiens, with an awareness that extended as far as the village church and manor house and no farther.

"Then Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg introduced that dangerous, divisive technology we call movable type: and the world changed. Documents could be mass-produced and distributed as fast as a mounted courier could travel. Reading changed from a professional specialty to a basic skill. And those villiens had a source of information about the rest of the world.
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (April 12, 2010))
Quite a few printing technologies had been in use before Gutenberg put movable type on the map. What set the new technology apart was the speed and (relative) ease with which written information could be taken from a manuscript, mass-produced, and distributed.

And, intellectual property laws being what they were then (practically non-existent), if one copy of a printed work arrived in a town with a printer - and the printer thought people would buy more copies - there would soon be as many copies of that work as there were people willing to pay the printer.

'Going viral' is a new phrase - but documents have been 'going viral' for centuries.

Technology and Freedom

"...America is a free country. When I was growing up, I learned that individual freedom was important. Since then, I've learned that one of the remarkable freedoms that Americans enjoy is the right to own and operate dangerous technologies and substances. These include
  • Guns
  • Substances like
    • LP gas
    • Ammonium nitrate1
    • Anhydrous ammonia1
  • Printing presses
  • Fax machines
  • Computers
What all these have in common is that they give whoever possesses them, and knows how to use them, considerable individual power....

Computers, Dangerous?

I put the printing press and the fax machine in my list, because they are, in their own way, at least as dangerous as any gun.
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but the Printing Press is Deadly
Martin Luther's 95 Theses might have have been discussed in Wittenberg, and maybe surrounding towns, and stopped there: if some incendiarist hadn't gotten his hands on them, printed copies, and distributed the things. The wars that followed would probably have happened anyway....
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (June 27, 2008))

Technology, Freedom and Economics

There was an economic side to movable type, too. Before Gutenberg and company, every book was a hand-crafted item, made by specialized craftsmen and skilled professionals. Last year I made some wildly optimistic estimates about how fast a scribe could work, together with some other information, and made the educated guess that the value of a pre-Gutenberg Bible in Europe would have been around $3,725 USD. (A Catholic Citizen in America (January 27, 2009))

Feudal Europe didn't have American dollars, of course: but that's the sort of material and labor that would have been involved. These days, the sort of Bible I use sells for around $9.00 USD. ($8.20, plus shipping and handling).

That's around 0.25% of $3,725, by the way.

Technology, Freedom, Economics and Culture

Maybe you've heard about how 'those people' locked up Bibles - to keep people from reading them, of course. Actually, there was security around almost any book: those things were as expensive as computers are now.

And less accessible. A few specialists knew how to read and write, but most folks were illiterate - because they needed to know how to read about as much as most people today need to know how to use ZPL.

After movable type made written material available to people who weren't major landholders, an increasing number of people learned to read.

By now, the ability to read and write is pretty close to being a basic and necessary a skill in many parts of the world. Maybe 'most parts of the world.'

Which means that people - all over - are much more likely to know about what's going on in other parts of the world.

Upsetting the Applecart

Change can be hard on people who don't like it - or don't understand it. Particularly if they won't learn to adjust.

I think part of what we're seeing in American culture now is vaguely parallel to what happened in Europe a few centuries back.

Around the end of Europe's feudal period, landholders had gotten used to a politico-economic system that depended on a network of personal obligations. Feudalism had worked for centuries. We might have a sort of 'feudalism 2.0' now, if the knights, barons, and kings had understood this newfangled idea called "money" a bit better.

Oversimplifying - a lot - the old landholders of Europe failed to get involved with new, money-based, commercial enterprises. It took generations, and several major revolutions, but eventually the aristocracy of Europe changed from a driving force in European civilization to a colorful tourist attraction.

Remember, I said that's an oversimplification.

That was then. This is now.

America doesn't have barons or knights - it's illegal, or was up until a few years ago. We do, however, have traditional information gatekeepers.
"Information Gatekeepers?" What's That?
The way I use the term, "an 'information gatekeeper' is someone who controls access to information." (Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 14, 2009))

Pretty obvious, huh?

America's traditional information gatekeepers include:
  • Newspaper editors
  • Teachers and organizations of teachers
  • Leaders of colleges and universities
  • Entertainment industry executives
  • Publishers of books and magazines
That's a 'short list,' of course.

Those folks were in a relatively comfortable position for much of the 20th century.

Although schools and colleges were spread across America, the 'important' ones like Harvard and Yale were in the northeast. Not far from many of America's more prestigious publishing houses and the city where America's 'newspaper of record' had its home.

The entertainment industry was a bit less centralized. New York City retained its position as the premier center for stage productions, but Los Angeles emerged as a center for newer media like motion pictures and television.

The result, I think, was that back in the days where ABC, CBS, NBC, and - a bit later - PBS were it as far as television was concerned, a relatively small number of people had a great deal of control over what the rest of us saw, heard and read. I don't think it was planned, exactly. And that's definitely another topic.

Then along came cable television. That was terribly 'divisive,' we were warned. Americans wouldn't all be watching shows from the same manageable selection of networks.

Then along came the Internet. And the Web. And blogs, like the one you're reading.

By now, published authors aren't limited to those persons deemed worthy by America's 'better' sort.

Just about any crazy son of an Irishman can get published.

Like me.

Can't say that I'm sorry about that.

Vaguely-related posts:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Problem With Nice, Orderly Societies

I've written about stories with A Message before. You've run into them: Several generations ago they might even have, "and the moral of this story is..." at the end; These days, it's more along the lines of Humanity has Killed Mother Nature and We're All Gonna Die! Or maybe the big, bad computers will take over.

Don't get me wrong: I liked the special effects in "Avatar," and "The Matrix" is on my to-be-viewed list. I'd have watched "The Matrix" start-to-finish before, but until this year, the excerpts I'd dropped into had been on late-night television. Apparently the 1999 movie's setting actually makes sense. Sort of. Good enough for 'willing suspension of disbelief,' anyway.

I'm getting off-topic. In the second paragraph. That's fast work, even for me.

Where was I? "...and the moral of this story is...:" right.

I don't particularly like stories that apply The Meaning with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, or drop The Moral on the reader like an anvil. Even if - make that particularly if I started out agreeing to some extent with what the author had to say.

So, I intend to write nice, bland, meaningless drivel with no discernible purpose beyond entertainment? Not likely.
Bear with me, please: the rest of this post is about Utopias and good intentions. Sort of.
Take nice, orderly societies for example. Sounds - nice - doesn't it?

A Nice, Orderly, Society Where Everybody's Protected: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Just imagine a wonderful world of the future: all the people walking around with a dreamy smile on their faces, completely and totally secure in the knowledge that they're safe from natural disasters, muggers, and unfamiliar ideas.

A reasonable desire for the security implied in the first two points is, I think, part of the reason we started cooking meat and living in groups of more than a dozen or so. I don't have a problem with preventing natural disasters. Or at least dealing with things like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and blizzards with minimal or no injury and death.

I even think it'd be a good idea if we could find a way to make muggers a footnote in history. Although in that case, I'm a little concerned about some of the methods suggested during the 20th century.

Lobotomies are coming back, by the way.

I don't take the conventionally-dim view of humanity that's part of some contemporary intellectual fads - and a number of post-Gutenberg branches of Christianity. I have, on the other hand, been surrounded by human beings for over a half century: and I think the fellow was right:
"For mischief comes not out of the earth, nor does trouble spring out of the ground; 2But man himself begets mischief, as sparks fly upward."
(Job 5:6,7)
I've written about that before, too.

I also don't see humanity as a cancer on delicate little Mother Nature's face, or as a totally corrupt mess. But let's face it: People make mistakes. Some want to do harm.

I think that even a well-intentioned altruist can mess things up: if he or she gets enough power.

The desire to protect the weak from harm is, I think, a good idea. But I also thing we can be 'protected' too much. I've touched on that before, too:
" '...Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law....'
" 'Locksley Hall,' Alfred, Lord Tennyson"
" 'Happily, some of us got off the planet in time.' "
" 'Notes of a Traveler,' Otha Sisk"
(" '...Into the Future...' - Excerpt; Attitude; Comment and Theme" (July 3, 2009))
I'd Love to be In Charge?
I'll admit that there have been times when I thought I couldn't possibly do a worse job than national and world leaders. That's not the same as thinking that I'd do a good job.

The sort of broad control achieved by totalitarian regimes is - I think - a really, really bad idea.
It Can Happen Here
There may be Americans who imagine that 'totalitarian' governments are 'over there.'

Others feel that America's federal government is "totalitarian."

For that matter, there are a few folks around the world who seem convinced that shape-shifting space-alien lizard people really run things.

I don't agree - with any of the above. Which 'proves' that I'm part of the conspiracy.

Getting off-topic. Again.

If you've run into some of my other blogs, or met me in online communities, you may know that I'm a Catholic. Yeah: one of those people.

You might expect me to be appalled at the rampant pornography sullying our fair land. That's near the mark, but I'm also concerned about some efforts to 'protect' us from smut.

I don't think porn is a good idea. For starters, it arguably doesn't show much respect for people - women, quite often. But I don't think that books, magazines, photos and videos with prurient interest are the only problem we've got.

Several years back, it looked like the American public was going to be 'protected' from the Wicked, Wicked Web by our benevolent leaders. I'm fairly convinced that the folks who were pushing for a federal agency to control what Americans saw, heard, and read had good intentions. They said they were worried about porn and 'hate speech.'
"...Fair enough. I don't approve of pornography or hateful screeds either.

"But when some socially conservative Christian organizations joined forces with liberal political action groups, I got concerned. They both wanted the government to do something about about people putting bad things on the Web. One of the odd couples was the Christian Coalition and the Feminist Majority.1

"We didn't (quite) get a federal agency in charge of deciding who could put information on the Internet, and who could view it, thank God. But it could have happened. A great many people were very upset.

"So upset that, in my opinion, they weren't thinking about the consequences of what they wanted."
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 9, 2008))
That odd couple of worried people was, I think, a demonstration that emotions and reason don't play well together. ("Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati," Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008))

I don't have any problem with parents - or schools - using blocking software to keep kids from seeing stuff that the parents or school board don't think is 'proper.' Families and local school boards have an obligation to look after children - and are small enough so that the crazy ones can't do widespread damage.

But a federal agency deciding what well upwards of 300,000,000 people should be allowed to see? With an option to make the plan global?

I wasn't concerned that a federal agency couldn't manage something like that: I was concerned that one could.

Managing the Masses For Their Own Good? Been There, Tried That

I'm pretty sure that some folks really believe that Stalin's Soviet Union was a golden age for Russia. Others may feel that McCarthyism was a good idea.

The world wasn't made up exclusively of freedom-loving Americans and oppressive commies - or wise leaders of the people's struggle and oppressive Yankee imperialists back in the 'good old days.' And it certainly isn't now.

But I think we still have 'intelligent, caring' people who honestly feel that everything would be wonderful: if only everybody could be made to act just the way the 'right sort' think they should.

Since I also think that well-meaning do-gooders like that will be around for the foreseeable future: speculative fiction writers have no shortage of material to play with.

Related posts:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Alien Life will Most Likely be - Alien

"Alien Life on Titan Would Stink" (April 10, 2010)

"If life does exist on Saturn's intriguing moon Titan, it probably stinks.

"The icy moon has long been seen as a potential spot for extraterrestrial life, but so far, there's no evidence of any living things there.

"And if there were life on Titan, it would likely involve chemicals that are noxious and disgusting to humans, scientists say...."

"...'This idea that you can walk up to the alien ambassador and shake their hand is very unlikely,' said biochemist William Bains of MIT and the Cambridge, England-based Rufus Scientific. He explained that these other worldly life forms would probably be so foreign to us that it might be difficult to recognize them as life, and coming into contact with them could prove hazardous.

"For example, Titan life's metabolism might involve chemical compounds such as phosphine and hydrogen sulfide, which are both foul-smelling gases that are toxic to humans...."

"...Instead of relying on water as a primary ingredient for life, as Earthlings do, Titan's life might have blood based on liquid methane, Bains said. Such a creature couldn't survive on Earth, where methane is a gas at our warmer temperatures.

" 'Their blood would instantly boil then release this great cloud of chemicals, quite a number of which are quite poisonous,' Bains said.

"And instead of using the element carbon to build many of the molecules that make up life, these creatures' chemistry might be based on silicon. While this element is relatively flexible and able to bond with a wide variety of other elements, many of these bonds would be unstable. For example, some compounds that could be present in Titan life would spontaneously burst into flames if exposed to Earth's air...."
I'm not sure that I quite buy the "so foreign to us that it might be difficult to recognize them as life" part of the article. What's described - phosphine, hydrogen sulfide and other substances in liquid methane - would likely enough involve microscopic bags of liquid grouped in larger sacks - like the plants and animals we're familiar with. And fungi and bacteria, for that matter. And yes, I know that plant cells tend to have rather hard walls.

Aliens with different life chemistries most likely wouldn't look like the creatures we're familiar with: but then, neither do the critters found in the Burgess Shale. But we don't have trouble identifying the Burgess Shale menagerie as animals - or maybe plants - but whatever, something living.

Okay: maybe we'll find 'living crystals' or something like Hoyle's Black Cloud: but that's not what the article was discussing.

'Life as We Know It,' Class M Planets and All That

I think there will always be room for stories involving beautiful space princesses and exotic-looking aliens who think 9.8 m/s2 acceleration is 'normal' gravity. And are perfectly comfortable in a 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.038% carbon dioxide mix at 21 degrees Celsius.

I also think there is room for stories where the alien ambassador needs a portable habitat to survive on Earth. And, likely enough, thinks Earth's air is thin and incredibly toxic: but likes the low gravity. ("Earth May Not Be a "Class M" Planet," Apathetic Lemming of the North (December 5, 2009))

Looks like 'serious' scientists are starting to get their heads around the idea that "life" may not always be quite exactly what we've been studying here for the last few thousand years. That's not entirely fair: a competent biochemist worked out a plausible range of possible 'life chemistries' for a wide range of temperatures quite a few years ago:
"...Actually, the idea that life didn't necessarily need water isn't particularly new. A former professor (of chemistry, apparently) at Boston University put together a pretty good argument for a half-dozen life chemistries that might plausibly work in temperatures ranging from near red-hot to near absolute zero:
  1. "Fluorosilicone in fluorosilicone
  2. "Fluorocarbon in sulfur
  3. "Nucleic acid/protein (O) in water
  4. "Nucleic acid/protein (N) in ammonia
  5. "Lipid in methane
  6. "Lipid in hydrogen
    " 'View from a Height' Isaac Asimov (1963), Lancer Books (p. 63)
"Isaac Asimov might be shaky on the sciences of ecology and physics - at least in his fiction - but that was in his professional field: chemistry. I'm inclined to take his view seriously, that life-as-we-know-it isn't necessarily the only sort. We're #3 on that list, by the way...."
(Apathetic Lemming of the North (March 24, 2010)
Then there are the scenarios where the 'aliens' are the descendants of people who left Earth back when humanity first reached the stars: and who have been away from home for a long time.

But this post is getting rather long. Goodnight.

Related posts:

Privacy Policy

Nothing spooky here.

These days it's important to have a "privacy policy" available: so here's mine.

I do not collect information on individuals visiting this blog. If you leave a comment, I'll read what you wrote: but I don't keep a record of comments, apart from what Blogger displays. (In other words, the only record of what you write or who you are will be what people see at the bottom of the post.)

I do collect information about how many hits this blog gets, where they come from, and some technical information. I use the WebSTAT service for this purpose - and all that shows is which ISP you use, and where it's located.

You can stop most of Webstat's data gathering by disabling cookies in your browser. I don't know why you would, but some folks do.

I'm also an AdSense affiliate, so Google collects information on what I've written in each post: but that's mostly my problem.

I'm also considering starting an affiliate relationship with DAZ Productions. You should be able to keep DAZ and Commission Junction, their provider of affiliate services, from collecting information by - again - disabling cookies in your browser.

And you can keep DAZ Productions from finding out anything about you, by not buying any of their products.

Again, I don't know why you would: but some folks do.

Or, rather, don't.