Thursday, July 31, 2008


There's a great widget for watching NASA TV at

You can also go to

Alternate/Parallel Universes in the Multiverse

One of the hot topics in astrophysics is the idea of multiple universes - that our universe is just one bubble in a collection of other universe bubbles, all making up the multiverse or the meta-universe (some multiverse hypotheses discuss multiple universes as membranes/sheets, others as discs). While the main focus of this blog is the speculation of alien realities that may (or may not) exist in our universe, no discussion of alien realities would be complete without visiting the subject of alternate or parallel universes.

But before we venture too far into alternative/parallel universe conjectures, I would first like to examine the intersection of the subject of parallel universes with that of alien contact. While the idea of alien contact is plausible in our universe, it may be rather implausible between two universes.

Some hypotheses, like the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI), or quantum multiverse, state that different universes arise "merely" from the random fluctuations that happen on a quantum level. Chance and true randomness exists, and creates multiple universes. Einstein did not much like the idea, did not like what the math, what the theories were suggesting. He could not believe that God plays with dice.

In a random event, there are more than one possible result. In the MWI, for each random event, each possible result occurs: one occurs in our universe, and the others occur in newly created parallel universes. Thus, those universes have the same physical laws as our universe, just with some small change in a quantum level random event. If aliens were somehow able to travel from one of those parallel universes, they would enter a space time continuum that would function the same as it did in their home universe. Though MWI states that no communication between the universes would be possible, thus no travel, Although there could be quantum interferences between them, though I doubt much could be communicated that way.

Other hypotheses predict changes in physical laws for each universe. This would have major consequences for any alien explorer from another universe. If parallel universe A's gravitational constant, for instance, is stronger than universe B's, then everything in universe A would come to existence, work toward equilibriums, and evolve within this stronger gravity. And since gravity is part of the space-time continuum, the very fabric of space, if aliens from universe A somehow finds a way to physically pop into universe B, they would find themselves in a new space-time continuum - one with weaker gravity. Their bodies, their evolution, their spacecraft and the materials within it were all grew, lived, and evolved in and/or was designed for stronger gravity.

This would affect them at both the atomic level and the macro level. It would affect every particle of their beings, and every particle of their ships. Some very small changes to physical laws could have very large changes for the physical structures (both living and inorganic). It would be very dangerous, even lethal, to pop into a parallel universe without checking the conditions; the aliens would need to send over a M.A.L.P. (Mobile Analytic Laboratory Probe - yes, I'm a Stargate fan, though I doubt that would surprise anyone). Though it raises the question that even if they were able to send over something like a M.A.L.P. first, could they truly trust the readings they get back since they are using sensors that would be affected in unknown ways by the unknown differences between the universe being investigated and the home universe?

It would be best to find a means of communicating without actually physically setting foot in another universe. One possible way of communicating may actually be via gravity - some hypothesize that gravity may leak out of universes and or otherwise be felt by other universes. If so, that may be the most logical way to carry on a inter-universal communication. Wouldn't that be wild - to communicate with a sentient species in another universe?

Maybe the safest way too - if it turns out the other sentient race are war mongering conquerors, we would have little to worry about (as long as each universe is incompatible to life from the other); though I wonder, could they eventually figure out how to use a gravity wave weapon, but what would it profit them to do so? Of course we've seen on our own planet some people just can not tolerate anyone different from themselves, and that is reason enough for them to murder.

This topic will, of course, be discussed in more detail future posts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What is a smile to an Alien?

We hear how a person has a great smile, how their smile just lights up a room. So when we meet an alien, and want to put them at ease, do we smile?

What is a smile? It's bearing the teeth. If you think about it, it can be a hostile action. A smile is a bit like a dog growling and baring its fangs to threaten (without the growling and drool). Ah, but the eyes tell the story. As well as the rest of the face. Is the face scrunched up? Are the eyes glaring? The nostrils flaring? But there are cold smiles as well - that sickly sweet insincere smile, or, worst, the calm, eerie smile that can send shivers down your spine. Humans of all cultures can identify, on average, what is a happy face, a disgusted face, a mad face, and so on. Our ability to read faces crosses cultural and racial boundaries. But we are talking humans. What about non-humans?

Will aliens have the same range of emotions, or with the same intensity? Will they communicate emotion more with voice tonal differences, or with light, rather than by physical appearance? What if their faces have fewer muscles than ours, limiting their ability to communicate via facial changes? For them, a happy face could be one that is frowning. And a smile can be threatening.

Even simple gestures can be misread. Even here on Earth: the Japanese hand gesture for "come here" looks too much like a "scat, go away" gesture for Americans. How much more can gestures be misread by aliens (and vice versa)?

Those involved in first contact will need to pay attention to details, and think fast on their feet yet also be patient, and not easily insulted. But that is asking a lot of such a person. I think first contact is best done by learning all you can before hand - eavesdrop on their broadcasts, learn their language, their culture as much as possible via probes and listening devices. Even then, there will be pitfalls.

But if we travel out into space, we may meet new races of sentient beings without the benefit of learning some basics about their language and culture - we may be meeting them for the first time. First contact is probably dangerous, difficult business. It would be great if we had mentors, other alien race(s) who would help us as we spread our wings further and further away from our home nest, the Earth. Otherwise, I hope the aliens we meet for the very first time are also cautious, and willing to not take offense to mistakes, and to especially resist taking personal any offense. If first contact can be difficult on Earth between sentient beings of the same species, just how much more difficult will it be with another race of sentient beings?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The History Channel last night (23 July 2008) had a program titled "New UFO Revelations: The Gray's Agenda." One speculation was that the aliens where here to produce alien-human hybrids.

Now why would aliens traverse interstellar distances to produce a hybrid with us? For fun and profit? Boredom? Because they can? On a dare?

One possible reason mentioned by some is maybe they need us to save their own species - they can no longer reproduce for some reason. Let's ponder on that for a moment.

The aliens would need DNA, and DNA that was similar enough to human DNA to make a hybrid possible. And they would need to overcome the problem that most Earth mammal hybrids have - infertility (think mule). That would be counter-productive. And if they were able to overcome the problem (making the alien-human "mule" consistently fertile) then why couldn't they overcome the problem of their own infertility to begin with?

How would a hybrid save their species? The hybrid would be a new species. So why bother at all? If it is perpetuate their culture, I'm sure there would be people on Earth who would volunteer to travel to their planet to live. Ah, but those volunteers would bring their own culture embedded with them. The aliens would need some one who is essentially a blank slate - a new born. However, every species has sets of instincts, and maybe pure human instincts would not mesh well with the alien planet and culture. Thus, the need for a hybrid.

Also, the chance that the alien planet would be a close enough match to Earth for an Earth baby to thrive in are low, especially for the small Grays (the ones that are said to be between 3 to 4 foot tall). The Earth baby would find itself in a societal environment long designed for small creatures. The gravity of the planet may be much greater (a possible reason why the small Grays are small to begin with), too great for a normal human to thrive (or even survive) in for any length of time. Thus, another need for a hybrid.

But if the aliens have the technology to traverse the stars and the knowledge, technique, and technology to create hybrids, that they would have trouble solving their own infertility seems odd. Or at the very least injecting a few select specific human genes into their own genome which would only require sampling some genetic material (a mouth swab would do).

There is, however, another reason for an alien-human hybrid, if such things exist, that I think needs to be considered. Lengthy exploration of a planet that is even moderately hostile environmentally would be difficult for the aliens. If the Earth's atmospheric pressure and gravity is very low compared to theirs, has more radiation reaching the surface, the Sun's spectral class different, the temperature much cooler/warmer it could be difficult for an alien to stay long on the Earth's surface without artificial/supplementary medical/biological aids to help them. Plus, there is the concern about viruses and bacteria - some think that an alien wouldn't be susceptible to our bugs since our bugs are adapted to try to get through our immune systems and thus an alien's immune system would have no trouble recognizing Earth bugs as foreign bodies and attack. Nice assumption, but their immune system evolved on their planet and may miss an Earth bug (maybe see it as inert). Anyway, a hybrid, one brought up in the alien's culture, with alien instincts as well as human protective instincts (like our instinctive fear of a snake's hiss), might make the best alien scientists to explore and research Earth. They would have additional protection against Earth's "bugs," some native instinctive reaction to give them further protection, and can better survive and interact in Earth's environmental conditions.

By the way, for those who are wondering what a Gray (or Grey) is, it is one of several species of aliens reported by people. According to Jerome Clark in his 1998 book The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial, Grays are most commonly reported in the U.S. (75% of all alien sightings) with Europe and England reporting Grys 20% and 12% of the time, respectively.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Save Arecibo

From an 18 July 2008 email from Seti@home:

Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest radio telescope and the source for the SETI@home data that your computer analyzes, faces massive budget cuts that will END its ability to continue the search for life beyond Earth. The decision to ensure full funding currently rests upon votes in Congress on Senate Bill S. 2862 and House Resolution H.R. 3737. These bills desperately need more support.

Please take a moment to help us SAVE ARECIBO.

Clicking the link below will direct you to a web page that allows you to print out letters prepared for your Senators and Congressional Representative urging them to support Arecibo. Printing and mailing the letters is really easy, too! You will also have the chance to add a few personal thoughts, if you wish, to let your Senators and Representative know why this funding is important to you! And if you're really feeling passionate about saving Arecibo, please use these
letters as the basis for letters you write yourself, urging your congressmen and women to vote to save Arecibo.

Because our representatives in Congress rarely give much attention to all the email they receive, printing out and MAILING these letters via standard U.S. Postal mail remains our best option for contacting them and our best hope for saving Arecibo (The second best option is to call your representatives). Your 42 cent stamps on these letters could help us get the millions of dollars
needed to save Arecibo.

Our search cannot continue without the necessary support. Your work, as SETI@home participants, represents an indispensable resource for conducting the search. Now, we need your help to ensure that our other most valuable resource - our eyes and ears to the cosmos - can continue to probe the universe as we seek to answer the question: Is there anybody out there?

Thank you for your help,

The SETI@home Team

Related information:
  • As the largest radio telescope in the world, the Arecibo Observatory is an important asset to America's scientific and technological communities. No other radio telescope comes close to the sensitivity that the Arecibo telescope has.
  • Not until the year 2020 will any other telescope even have a chance to surpass Arecibo. If the Square Kilometer Array (to be located in South Africa or Australia) gets all of its funding on time, a decade-long gap without the use of Arecibo (or any comparable telescope) will still plague astronomic, planetary, and atmospheric research.
  • Only Arecibo's planetary radar can image and determine exact trajectories of potentially threatening asteroids. This makes Arecibo the best tool for investigating Near Earth Objects and warning the world about possible asteroid threats.
  • Radio technologies developed for the Arecibo telescope strengthen the U.S. competitive edge in the global marketplace. Ionospheric radio wave propagation studies conducted at Arecibo form an important component of space technologies, from communications satellites to the Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Arecibo benefits education. Many of our next generation of scientists and engineers receive training at the Arecibo Observatory.
  • Arecibo captures the public imagination. Over 120,000 people per year visit this technical wonder while millions more contribute to scientific projects conducted with this telescope. Over 5 million participants have contributed to SETI@home -- the world's largest public participation science project.
  • The citizens of the United States, especially those in Puerto Rico, and the scientific community look at Arecibo with pride. The Observatory represents a commitment to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and a major asset to the world scientific community.


"Save Arecibo: Write to Congress." Press Release. UC Berkley News. 3 July 2008. 21 July 2008. <>

Hello, or, Is This Thing On?

Mea culpa for being away for so long. Some family matters (no, not the TV show) kept me busy, as well as moving offices (home office and work office).

Stay tuned, there is much to discuss.