Call­ing oc­cu­pants of Earth... sort your­selves out. Now

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - Mike Donachie

Isay it’s def­i­nitely aliens. Of course, the boffins have sev­eral the­o­ries. They never get tired of putting for­ward al­ter­na­tive ideas based on the avail­able ev­i­dence, think­ing things through and do­ing sci­ence in a re­spon­si­ble way. An­noy­ing gits. There is con­jec­ture about cos­mic phe­nom­ena like black holes and col­laps­ing neu­tron stars, but what we know for sure is FRBs – fast ra­dio bursts – have been de­tected em­a­nat­ing from dis­tant gal­ax­ies, and they in­clude a re­peat­ing pat­tern. How ex­cit­ing.

Of course, we sci­ence fic­tion geeks im­me­di­ately con­cluded it’s aliens. Dan­ger­ous ones, or sexy ones, or dan­ger­ously sexy ones. I’m hop­ing for cy­borgs.

One of the great themes of sci­ence fic­tion is the ques­tion “This is an in­fi­nite uni­verse, so where the hell is ev­ery­body?”

Now we might, just might, find out.

And that’s the prob­lem. If aliens do get in touch what should we say? We can’t send an­other Car­pen­ters song. We’ll have to tell the truth about events on this mar­vel­lous blue mar­ble.

Oh dear.

If we de­fine a war as an armed con­flict that has claimed at least 1,000 lives, then the hu­man race has been at peace for just 8% of recorded his­tory. There are cur­rently wars in Ye­men and Syria, plus un­rest in Afghanistan and Venezuela, plus… you get the idea.

Last month, Sir David At­ten­bor­ough told a UN cli­mate change con­fer­ence the Earth stands on the brink of dis­as­ter. With­out rad­i­cal poli­cies to tackle cli­mate change, he said, civil­i­sa­tion will col­lapse.

The 20 warm­est years on record have oc­curred in the last 24 years; the last four have been the hottest. At any given mo­ment, one of the world’s ma­jor pow­ers is mired in ac­ri­mony, from Brexit to bor­der walls to Crimea, while we ig­nore refugees on Nauru, Si­cily or 100 other hotspots.

It is, ob­vi­ously, a dread­ful mess. With Robert Burns’ birth­day com­ing soon, I find my­self think­ing of To A Louse: O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!

If aliens re­ally are out there, I hope they’re do­ing bet­ter than us. And, if they are com­mu­ni­cat­ing, I hope we give our­selves a bet­ter mes­sage to send, one day soon.

The 20 warm­est years on record have oc­curred in the last 24 years

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