SETI-Where Are They? Part 2
Original Post: 8 June 2012
My previous post, SETI – Where Are they? did not answer Enrico Fermi’s question. The Wikipedia article that I mentioned in that post presented a variety of answers to Fermi’s query. These included the possibilities that we are, indeed, alone, that we just haven’t been found yet, that we have been found but they don’t want to interact with us, or that we have been found and we just don’t know that they are here among us.
In that previous post, I pointed out that the reason that we have not detected extraterrestrial civilizations by receiving their electromagnetic signals is that 1) no intelligent civilization would even consider communications that required hundreds or thousands of years for a reply, 2) that no intelligent civilization would waste the enormous amounts of energy required for interstellar communication, and that 3) we would have to be barely outside a solar system like ours just to detect their radio or television programs.
In my post, Newtonian Space Travel, I pointed out that routine travel between stars, even using vehicles capable of near light-speed velocities, would be impractical for any but the very closest star systems – and probably even then.
While these reasons may be the answer to Fermi’s question, some form of faster-than-light travel is often assumed in science fiction stories that involve human exploration of the galaxy and contact with extrasolar aliens. I have chosen to employ starships with warp drives and subspace communication in my novels and short stories of the Stellar Economic Community.
Humanity is not alone in the galaxy, although, as the Taupoian, Liz Embwallah, points out in Red Sky in Mourning (from my novel, Silver Threads), the explored part of our galaxy doesn’t contain as many intelligent species as some of our fiction would have us believe. We were discovered, but not contacted, four thousand years ago during the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III. My novel, Beyond the Windward Sea, will describe a more recent contact by the Taupoians. Liz alleges that the reason for lack of contact was to prevent contracting or spreading diseases and because we weren’t exactly a ‘girl next door’ type of people.
The Stellar Economic Community, which the Taupoians helped to found, has attempted to practice a policy of non-contact and non-intervention much like the Prime Directive of Star Trek. Considering that the energy requirements for transport of materials between stars makes large-scale hauling of natural resources impractical, there is little reason to contravene this policy. Interstellar trade mostly involves exchanges of interesting and entertaining cultural information and artifacts. Information may be obtained from electromagnetic emissions from a contraindicated planet, but artifacts would be easily noted. This is not to say that poaching does not occur – not all UFOs are swamp gas.
Keep reading/keep writing – Jack