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  • Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. But what could be

  • out there? The likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligence

  • has been the subject of an equation and the current lack

  • of any communication with aliens the subject

  • of a paradox. But here's a different question. If we were to hear

  • from intelligent life beyond earth, what would really

  • happen next? Well, no government

  • has ever officially adopted a post-detection policy.

  • And when asked how they would deal with a confirmed message from

  • extraterrestrial intelligence,

  • the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

  • simply said that their job does not include any issues regarding

  • the question you pose.

  • So are we unprepared? Would chaos ensue?

  • These things are unlikely but the way

  • we prepare for, and anticipate our species encountering one from beyond

  • earth, is important and illuminating even though

  • improbable. Historically, we have

  • acted as though alien life exists. Back

  • contamination is a concern that a man-made object returning from space

  • could carry with it undiscovered alien life forms, especially

  • viruses and bacteria that could wipeout

  • life on earth. This was a serious concern

  • dealt by serious people when we first sent

  • humans to the Moon. When Neil Armstrong,

  • Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin returned from the lunar surface,

  • they didn't immediately hugged their families and join a public parade.

  • Instead, they were sealed up in biological isolation garments and flown

  • to a quarantine facility to be locked away for three weeks,

  • in Houston, Texas.

  • By Apollo 15 the practice was discontinued but forward contamination

  • has also

  • been a real concern. When NASA sent the Galileo spacecraft to serve a Jupiter

  • and its moons, it got amazing data

  • but there was a problem. It had never been

  • sterilized. Because life, even liquid water, could exist

  • on these moons, NASA made the decision to avoid contaminating an

  • alien biosphere and the mission was over, steered Galileo

  • into Jupiter, where it burned up and was destroyed,

  • along with any Earth life possibly.

  • on board. So protocols and decisions have been officially made in

  • the past

  • under the assumption that aliens might exist.

  • When it comes to actually hearing from aliens,

  • receiving a message from technologically advanced life forms,

  • capable of sending us

  • say, a radio signal, groups like SETI,

  • the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, are other ones actively

  • listening.

  • They have an ear to the sky. And they

  • are prepared. The SETI committee of the International Academy of Astronautics

  • created a declaration of principles concerning activities following

  • the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence.

  • No government has officially adopted any of its recommendations,

  • but if something were to happen, it would likely be the first place

  • authorities went. It's one of the only handbooks

  • they'd have. Seth Shostack explained the philosophy in atmosphere at SETI,

  • predicting that because verifying a signal is slow,

  • and the media are fast, you will be media blasted about a possible detection

  • days before the people who find it are certain it's for real.

  • In the midst of rampant media speculation,

  • elation and panic on the part of the public,

  • the most likely string of official events,

  • after the discovery of a message from extraterrestrial life,

  • would follow SETI recommendations. First of all,

  • the individual or team who discovered the message

  • would continue to assess the credibility of the message

  • and alert all parties to SETI's declaration. Next,

  • once they were certain the message was real, the Central

  • Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams would be alerted,

  • so as to inform observers all over the world.

  • They would also inform the secretary-general

  • of the United Nations, because article 11

  • of the treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration

  • and use of outer space, including the Moon and other bodies

  • says they should. The first official news

  • we got, the public, would likely be in terms

  • of the Rio Scale. First presented to the International

  • Astronautical Congress, the Rio Scale measures

  • the significance of consequences of evidence of extraterrestrial life,

  • making it a likely tool to be used, because it neatly manages public

  • reaction. There's a great online calculator you can play with to see how

  • the Rio scale

  • works. It takes into account the credibility of the message

  • on a scale from believed extraterrestrial origin to

  • hoax, how repeatable the observation is,

  • what type of message it is, for instance, is it uninterpretable

  • or clearly for us and how far away it is.

  • Is it extra galactic or near enough that we could respond and hear back

  • within the length of a human lifetime. Seth Shostak and Ivan Almar

  • applied the Rio scale to fictional and historical

  • events. It's a great way to get a feel for how the Rio scale will affect

  • vocabulary

  • authorities use when reporting on an extraterrestrial

  • message. They considered the Moon monolith,

  • discovered in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a

  • 6 on the Rio scale - noteworthy.

  • In the movie Independence Day, the initial unidentified signal would be

  • about

  • 4 to 8, moderate too far-reaching.

  • Once the message is confirmed to be no further than the Moon and moving,

  • it would be an automatic 10, extraordinary.

  • In real life, the Martian Face, discovered in 1976,

  • was a 2 - low. Until high resolution images from 2001 revealed it was

  • nothing, just a thing that looked funny under the right conditions

  • and was immediately downgraded to zero, no

  • significance. So if we were to receive a message from

  • extraterrestrial intelligence, those things in those words

  • would likely be used. But who would be in charge?

  • Although she denies ever being selected or prepared for such a role,

  • Mazlan Othman, the director at the United Nations Office for Outer Space

  • Affairs

  • is a pretty good candidate. As is Paul

  • Davies, the chairman of SETI's post detection task force.

  • Were it to be necessary, both of those people are in positions to become

  • ambassadors for earth-alien

  • relations. So what do we say back?

  • Well, if we want to show that we are intelligent, perhaps we should send back

  • a string of information representing Pi

  • or the Fibonacci sequence. Or

  • maybe we shouldn't say anything at all.

  • Stephen Hawking warned, quote,

  • "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much

  • as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well

  • for the Native Americans." And professor Simon Conway Morris,

  • a Cambridge University palaeontologist has said that

  • if the cosmic phone rings,

  • we shouldn't pick it up.

  • Observations like that

  • are at the core of the importance of this video's question. We can learn a lot

  • by looking, not just at how we prepare for a space message,

  • but how we imagine actual contact with aliens

  • going. Anthropologist Katherine Denny

  • frequently points out that the ways we imagine a contact with aliens

  • happening often says more about ourselves

  • than it does any hypothetical aliens. We do this

  • all the time. When we project our own modern-day ambitions and fears onto

  • prehistoric people,

  • Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá call that

  • "flintstoning." So let's piggyback off of that phrase

  • and label any projection of modern human behaviors, desires, anxieties

  • onto futuristic, technologically advanced beings capable of visiting us

  • "jetsonsing." Some examples of jetsonsing involve

  • thinking that any aliens out there trying to contact us

  • might want to hurt us. Maybe that's simply because whenever we have met new

  • people,

  • we often enslave them or

  • pity them or take advantage of them. It's also possible to think that aliens

  • will be friendly.

  • They'll want to help us. The ways we imagine them helping us

  • say a lot about the kind of help we think we need.

  • There's a poetic idea that from space Earth

  • looks peaceful. All of the boundaries we have put

  • up don't exist, you can't see them. But that's not

  • entirely true. The old boundary between East and West Germany

  • is still visible from space, each side using different

  • lightbulbs. And this is the boundary between Pakistan

  • and India. You can see from space India

  • flooding the border with lights to deter smugglers from bringing across

  • weapons

  • and ammunition. We don't all get along together here

  • on earth, we are afraid of each other, we don't trust each other

  • and the wrinkles and scars that causes

  • are visible from space. Imagining how

  • aliens would interpret that, communicate with us and how we would

  • or should respond teaches us

  • a lot about ourselves. It makes our struggles

  • strange again. Less ignorable. And that is the entire point

  • of fantasy. G. K. Chesterton said that the function of the imagination is not

  • to make strange things settle, so much as to make

  • settled things strange.

  • And as always,

  • thanks for watching.

Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. But what could be

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Are We Ready For Aliens?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/28
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