Saturday, December 16, 2017

Oumuamua and This Ocean Earth

Here in December 2017 Terran scientists are watching an unusual celestial object from outside the solar system just cruising past Jupiter.  They're calling it Oumuamua.  Part of what has them fascinated is its strange and yet somehow familiar shape.

Some are studying it as an asteroid but others, especially at the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, are checking it out as a possible alien probe.

So far they're frustrated because they aren't hearing anything.  My answer to that is (quoting Spock to Doctor McCoy): "There are other forms on intelligence on Earth, Doctor. Only human arrogance would assume the message must be meant for man."

If this probe is an earlier version of the one that appears in the 23rd century, it may be in the neighborhood to chat with old friends, the humpback whales.

As you recall from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a similar alien probe threatened Earth when it could not contact any humpbacks, because they'd gone extinct by the 23rd century.

 Because of global heating and other large scale problems, it is still likely the whales will disappear from the oceans in the next century, along with most species on land larger than rats. But right now the humpback whale population is in pretty good shape.

Thanks in part to whaling bans and the awareness represented by that popular 1987 Star Trek feature, the humpback population has slowly recovered. Most species of humpbacks were removed from the endangered species lists about a year ago.

So a probe would have no difficulty contacting some.  And after their conversation, the probe might simply continue on its way, silent to our ears.

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