E.T. Was Basically A Medical Catastrophe
A case report in the British Medical Journal (available here for those with access) has studied the famous 1982 temporary stranding of a young alien life form in suburban southern California. After an in-depth analysis of gross anatomy and the E.T.’s forced hospitalization, the so-called “alien botanist” is determined to be essentially a medical catastrophe, presenting multiple severe pathologies and medical maladies.
Who approved this guy for spaceflight?
A list of anatomical abnormalities:
- Possible Perthe’s disease (incorrect formation of the femur)
- Lower limb lymphoedema (swelling of the stubby legs)
- Centripetal adiposity, possible metabolic syndrome (he’s basically chubby)
- Congenital dextrocardia (not only does his heart glow, it’s completely out of order)
- Functional acetaldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (extreme intoxication and disorientation after merely one can of beer)
- Complete absence of genitalia
- Clubbed digits (the odd swelling at the tip of his remarkably luminous fingertip)
After entering a state of shock and delrium, perhaps from malnutrition due to a diet consisting solely of beer and Reese’s Pieces, he entered cardiac arrest and failed to respond to resuscitation. His body was placed in the freezer room quickly enough to prevent brain damage from lack of oxygen, however.
This preservation of brain function was key as ”ET made an exceptional functional recovery, balancing in the basket of Elliott’s bicycle and performing feats of telekinesis en route to the site of his eventual departure.”
Perhaps if extraterrestrial travelers will carry more complete medical history or medical ID bracelets, better treatment may be applied in future cases.
“In 1960, mathematician, physicist, and all-around genius Freeman Dyson predicted that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, provided it survives long enough to do so. Dyson argued that this event constitutes a major hurdle in a civilization’s evolution, and that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Astronomers have taken to calling these theoretical megastructures Dyson Spheres. Dyson’s insight may seem like nothing more than a thought experiment, but if his hypothesis is sound, it has a striking implication: if you want to find advanced alien civilizations, you should look for signs of Dyson Spheres.”
Meet Penn State’s Jason Wright, embarking on a two-year search for the solar energy plants of alien civilizations. Sci-fi meets sci.
Do you think alien civilizations have a special name for them too? Like, instead of “Dyson Sphere”, they call them “Blarglock Sphurgles”, named for famous alien storyteller Glibglack Blarglock?
Would Blarglock’s stories have predicted that there would be a planet somewhere without one, like us?
I’m taking this too far.
Starfleet has one Prime Directive: There can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations.
NASA could be thiiiiiiis close to violating it. Thanks to a mixup in construction of the Curiosity rover, a drill bit was pre-loaded on the rover’s sample collection arm. This way, just in case the loading mechanism broke on landing, we’d still get one round of samples. Only problem is the drill bit wasn’t sterilized.
Even though Gale Crater, the landing site, isn’t known to hold any water (like the Martian poles do), if it happens to find some? There’s a small but not insignificant chance that Earth microbes could be rehydrated and deposited on the red planet.
More details at Smithsonian Smart News.
(image by Astronit/Flickr)
Enrico Fermi famously asked, in his paradoxical analysis of the likely existence of extraterrestrial life, “Where is everybody?” If there are a certain (large) number of planets in the universe that are habitable, then a subset of these (also a large number) should be inhabited. Any civilization that formed, given enough time, could develop the means for interstellar communication or travel.
So yeah, “Where is everybody?”
Years later, Frank Drake developed a precise equation to calculate the likely number of inhabitable worlds within range of observation or communication from Earth. Well, it’s as precise as you define it, anyway, given that the variables that go in are just that - variable. Things like how long it would take a civilization to develop communication, how long said civilization would last, how many stars and planets are estimated to exist … just the basics.
It’s called the Drake Equation, and thanks to the stupendous folks over at BBC Future, you can go tweak the equation with an interactive tool! Click here to start defining your galaxial parameters and see how many civilizations you think should exist.
I’m getting some pretty big numbers . . !
Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes
Oh hi, aliens, I didn’t know you were coming over. I would have cleaned up.
SMBC takes a look at a future Earth, where we’re all a bunch of bachelors and an alien race is coming over to our pad to visit.
We’ve got some cleaning up to do. Hint: It doesn’t go as planned. But it ends with hope. Check out the full saga.
“Perhaps it was good that we believed aliens were coming. Perhaps we should always live as if we’re about to invite an otherworldly mate over to dinner. Perhaps… perhaps… for a moment, we all inhaled the chamomile odor of perhaps.”
This is the Arecibo message, transmitted to M13 on November 16, 1974. 25,000 light years away.
The message communicates the following information, from top to bottom:
- The numbers one (1) through ten (10)
- The atomic numbers of the elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, which make up deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
- The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA
- The number of nucleotides in DNA, and a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA
- A graphic figure of a human, the dimension (physical height) of an average man, and the human population of Earth
- A graphic of the Solar System
- A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish
The sad reality, of course, is that by the time the message reaches its destination, Messier 13 won’t be anywhere near where it was located when the message was first transmitted. Hopefully they’ll have a forwarding system set up 23,026 years from now.
(I hope that extra-terrestrials do receive the message, but misinterpret it as some awesome 8-bit art.)
An oldie but a goodie, in case the Endeavour folks make any new friends up there this week.