I wasn’t going to write anything today.
“So, just like every day then?”
Har har. It’s been summer. You know I goof off in the summer.
No, I want to write. I want to get this puppy back on track. But I had bad sleep last night filled with self abusive thoughts and useless “what if” scenarios that wouldn’t quit. I absolutely hate the “what if” game. It serves no purpose whatsoever. “What if” has no bearing on what actually is.
Don’t get me wrong; I completely understand the evolutionary boon of having a mind that is able to think about a situation after the fact and learn from it. I suppose the feelings of regret just go hand in hand. However, I can’t help but wonder at our minds’ proclivity to take on guilt over the actions of others in the situation. I fail to see any evolutionary benefit in that. Why does my mind want me to be responsible for not only my actions, but the actions of other people?
“It’s cus you’re bossy, Bethie.”
Let’s change the subject. Today is dumb, tomorrow will be better.
Why are people so vehemently opposed to aliens?
I’m sitting here reading an article about a newly discovered series of radio waves that originated from somewhere within a distant galaxy. The signals zipped and zinged their way across three billion light years to reach us.
Hang on. Just take a second to think about and appreciate that part of the discovery. These FRBs (fast radio bursts) originated from a point of space and time that was three billion light years away. Three BILLION light years, and the blips actually reached us. Nothing got in the way. These puppies didn’t bounce off another planet or splatter against an asteroid.
“Bethie, radio waves don’t ‘splatter’.”
Well these ones certainly didn’t!
Detecting radio waves in itself isn’t unusual. There’s a whole lot going on in that “nothing” we call space. Many cosmic occurrences create radio waves. However, these ones, dubbed FRB 121102 (I want that on a t-shirt it’s so catchy), are so cool because they repeated. We have, for the first time, recorded a duplicate set of radio waves.
Wait. That’s underselling it. We did not find a “duplicate” set. We got a set fifteen of them. Fifteen bursts that match in frequency, length, and trajectory.
I cannot stress enough how exciting this is!! We’ve never found anything like this cosmic metronome. Something made these, something that created at least fifteen identical radio bursts. Theories are running wild at the moment, of course. Could they be star farts? A bout of cosmic indigestion? Seems a bit unlikely to me that there would be fifteen identical bursts, or that they’d all be on the exact same trajectory. Nothing in our observable model naturally creates identical radio waves. Could it be concussion ripples from a cosmic collision? Alliteration aside, that also seems unlikely to me. The size of a ripple is an exponentially expanding event from one to the next. I wouldn’t expect anything about them to be identical if they are, indeed, collision shock waves. Again, though, this is from knowledge gathered in our very small observable model. Maybe these things can and do occur in other parts of the universe, areas that operate under different physical properties. Because of that, we cannot rule them out.
Nor can we rule out aliens.
Here, in our tiny little corner of the universe, the only things that we have found can create anything identical are mechanical, not natural. A cell does not replicate exactly. “Identical twins” aren’t really. Our own star certainly hasn’t shown anything close to perfectly duplicated expulsions of energy. Close, but not identical.
And maybe these signals aren’t actually identical, either. Our equipment is pretty friggin cool, but it’s not perfect. We’re always refining and honing. Perhaps some day, someone will look at these recordings with much more advanced and precise equipment and say, “Well, shit, Bob, we’ve been thinking they peak at seven gigahertz when really it’s 6.982354 for this puppy, and 6.983451 for that one. How could ancient man possibly think these were identical?!”
I think, though, that if that day does come, we’ll also be able to look at our recordings of mechanical equipment of this era and find slight differences as well.
The point isn’t what we’re going to be able to glean from the advanced equipment of the future. We don’t need future tech to compare all that we’ve discovered with THIS technology. Just like a doc says, “Yep, these twins look identical to me,” we can say, “Yep, these bursts look identical to us, and that’s something we’ve never seen before.” We are comparing these fifteen bursts against all data we have investigated with the same equipment.
Of course the theory has been put forth that it could be a sign of aliens. And just as quickly, scientists have rushed to Twitter to be naysaying haters.
I get it on one level. I get that they don’t want America’s sci-fi history of little green men tainting a legitimately thrilling discovery. Aliens or not, this is some epically cool shit to find.
But I really think in the scientists’ desire to legitimize their findings, they’re discounting the things that make people want to know more. Excitement. Intrigue. Imagination.
Could these bursts be from a flatulent star? Sure. They could also be a product of a machine, a manufactured object that is designed with enough precision to create identical FRBs.
These two options are equal on the plane of possibility at this point in time with the knowledge we have. In fact, once human logic is applied, the alien life form theory edges out a natural occurrence given what we know about how things work in our corner of the universe.
“Oh shit. You’ve got your tin foil hat on again.”
Of course I don’t. Why would I?
Look, I’m not at all saying that little green men are going to invade. I’m not even saying that they have already visited our planet. I find that idea highly unlikely. I find the stories of alien abductions interesting to read, but lacking in any scientific evidence at all. Campfire ghost stories of entertainment, nothing more.
But one of my big pet peeves in science is the scientists who close the door on a reasonable possibility, especially with no evidence at all beyond “we found this thing that came from that point in time and space.”
There are billions of solar systems in our universe. Billions. Why would we think that it’s impossible for one of them to also have advanced life?
That said, let’s look at the facts of this particular finding. These signals are from three billion light years away. What are the odds that any civilization that may have manufactured something that created these signals is still alive? “Very slim” would be an understatement.
It’s also extremely vexing that we may never have an answer. What we need to get an answer is more data. We need to find other sets of identical FRBs, and those don’t seem to be clamoring to be discovered. This is the one and only set we have. Maybe we’ll get enough data just from these to advance a reasonable theory, but unless we can find more, it’s not looking too good right now for definitive answers.
So where are we at with this? We have a cool group of never-before-observed radio bursts that originated three billion light years away that may or may not have occurred naturally. We cannot discount anything at this point, as literally nothing is known about the cause of these bursts. The scientists cannot say the signal was not created by alien life.
My theory holds just as much water as their cosmic gastronomy concept, whether they like it or not.
And that is definitely a thought that can get me through today.
Thus concludes a musing for Friday, September 1, 2017. I’m off to face the start of pumpkin spice season at work. Pumpkin donuts. Pumpkin cakes. Pumpkin cream topped pumpkin pie.*shudder* Someone send help.