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Archive for July 16th, 2006

Blogst in Space

Why do we want to know if we are not alone in space?

In a shallow attempt to ensure that there is at least some law in my posts – I am putting up a picture of the TV judge John Deed instead of an absurd picture of an alien. I feel there is a certain poetic symmetry of posting a picture of a fictional judge instead.

I have just found a website which allows you to blog in space. Last night, after completing my peroration on Geeklawyers new forum (Ibid ) – I went to my austere minimalist bedroom and lay down on my japanese futon. I made the mistake of turning on “Discovery Science’ on Sky.

I sipped a glass of Port (I do not keep Port in my minimalist bedroom – but I just fancied drinking some Portuguese Port as I had not done so for some time). On came a truly absurd and surreal programme about aliens and the fact that we are not alone in space.

First, we were introduced to some woman professor from a US university who had devoted twenty years of her life to sending radio signals into space in the hope that those in other worlds may pick the signals up. The narrator – possibly an actor with no supermarket to open – informed me (I take television personally late at night) that distances are so large in space they had to be measured in light years, that light moved at 300,000 Km a second and therefore our nearest neighbours were 100,000 earth years away, at the very least, if they existed. Cut to a ludicrous picture of another actor dressed up as a caveman with beard and weird teeth to prove the point that 100,000 years ago our ancestors were not really capable of communicating with John Prescott or their friends, let alone sophisticated aliens from outer space. (Not that caveman would have been the recipient – because it would take a 100,000 years to get such a message if sent 100,000 years ago. But can you imagine what might happen if John Prescott, running the country while the PM is away on holiday, was the official British recipient of the message from outer space ?)

It became even more surreal when some very earnest american professors who talk quickly – like some of my friends do in London late at night when they have been quaffing – told us that they too had been doing nothing of any great value to society by sending radio signals into space – but with a fantastic satellite dish which could pick up my mobile phone conversations on Jupiter if the need arose. Apparently they have been sending “I Love Lucy” television programmes into space in a vain attempt to seduce the highly sophisticated aliens to come and visit us.

It then behoved the narrator to say (accompanying footage: film of some star wars like space ship hovering over the earth, about to destroy it) that even if aliens do visit Earth they might not like ‘our primitive and savage species’ and kill us anyway. He was also of the opinion that world leaders would not be able to resist the urge to communicate with these aliens – which could be very dangerous indeed.

I had to drink some more Port to dull the pain caused by what I was watching. I thought to myself, as I watched this nonsense “What world leaders or countries would be mad enough to start an unprovoked attack on an alien spaceship?” Funnily enough I came up with quite a few – US, UK, a few EU states, Iraq (in the old days), Iran, Israel, Hizbollah, India, Pakistan, Syria, North Korea….and Zidane. Mercifully, I was able to pull the electricity cable out of the wall and get to sleep. I could take no more.

I ended my late night throughts by reflecting on the proposition that the work of astronomers, no matter how worthy, is actually a fantastic waste of time, energy and money – when the billions that are spent on this research could be applied to many other things. Being partisan – a small part of the cost of funding the Mars exploration vehicle designed by that wonderful English professor with the mutton chop sideburns, whose name if have forgotten, (the Mars vehicle which crashed) – could be spent on ensuring that those selfless QCs and senior barristers, who devote their lives to defending criminals on legal aid, could maintain their lifestyles and not get into a ‘strapped for cash’ situation because Lord Falconer wishes to rein them in. I was also reminded that these astronomy professors and other assorted scientific boffins, who hang around waiting for aliens to get in touch, were doing something as futile as being a Liberal MP waiting for power…no wonder some of them go off the rails.

About two years ago I was at a dinner party in West London with a couple of actor friends of mine. I was, of course, well into the juice when I arrived, and I happened to remark to my hostess, that one of the guests looked like the Klingon in Star Trek. She smiled at me and told me it was because he WAS the actor who played the part of the Klingon. Nice chap. Don’t think he was terribly impressed by my references to  Darth Vader because he kept telling me that he had been in Star Trek not Star Wars.

Well there we are.


LATER EDIT… I could not sleep, for want of thinking about who that British Prof was…..here is the Prof with the Mutton chop sideburns. Professor Pillinger with his Mars Explorer. Nothing like a bit of ‘googling’ late at night. Typed in ‘mad explorer’…and was asked ‘Do you mean ‘Mars Explorer ?”

No… I am making that bit up… Google isn’t that clever

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