We are Pretty Much Alone

July 28, 1998
By: Timothy W. Shire

It seems like every TV show and movie for the past few years, all have the constant and wide spread belief that this planet of ours is about to be visited by Aliens, already has been visited, they are already resident here, or residents of our planet claim to have been abducted by aliens. Gene Roddenbury’s Star Trek began in the sixties and was really a morality western that got carried away, since then we have been introduced to Klingons, Cardasians, Ferengi and the Dominion, but that all remains in the fantasy world. The X-Files and the various rip off copies on television have taken the alien thing quite a bit more to heart and in the theatre’s we have seen some pretty dramatic arrivals over the past few years.

Any night there is a clear sky you can look up and see millions upon millions of stars and knowing that some of what appear to be stars are actually galaxies themselves, composed of millions of stars, the mind is a bit overwhelmed by the universe’s immensity. Douglas Adams in his “Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy” has one of his main characters punished by being placed in a chamber that exposed him to the enormity of the universe as this would normally result in the victim’s death. Zeefog Beattlebrox III was impressed but more so by himself and survived. The bottom line is that the universe is a big place, and to quote Marvin from the “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” “More then you can possibly imagine.”

The odds are that with all those stars and with most of them having planets and for every planet system a good number are going to have “M” class planets similar to our own and our own sun is sort of average among those out there, it seems remarkably plausible that we are not the only humanoids walking around and discussing football, politics and the opposite sex. The problem is of course, because of the size of the place, we just don’t have the opportunity to bump into one another very often, if at all, although television and movie writers like to think it “could” happen, a lot.

Up until a few years ago we were all pretty confounded about the absence of Dinosaurs, it seems these big creatures just about disappeared over a few thousand years perhaps even a few thousand days. Well, that is except for the birds, which we now realise are pretty direct ancestors of the monsters of long ago. Scientists were pretty puzzled about the whole thing until they discovered that remarkable similarity between a world wide layer of material having occurred right at the time the big guys took a powder. This of course is the motivation for this year’s crop of disaster movies, as we now are certain the Dinosaurs, the really big nasty ones, were exterminated by a random hit by a celestial body, an asteroid, or comet. Wham, the air burns, the sky darkens, the plants die and the Dinosaurs are ready for processing as motor fuel and cosmetics base.

The odds of getting hit by a arrant object are pretty slight, but that did not stop the movie writers from making it a distinct possibility and fortunately Bruce Willis was on hand to save the world. Scientists point out that since it happened at least once or twice and judging from the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay and few other distinctly round water bodies, we would have to agree. But the cool thing is the timing.

When the Dinosaurs went off to fossil land there were very few mammals around and the ones that existed were really little and none of them drank beer and road Harley-Davidsons. But in a few thousand years of their demise the planet was awash in warm blooded hairy creatures, among them some with big heads and only two feet. From a few summer’s movies ago Steven Spielburg made it abundantly clear that Dinosaurs and people just can not get along in a harmonious manner. Raptors and T-Rex would simply prevent the development of the important things in life, baseball and golf.

I believe that the peculiar timing of the meteorite/asteroid/comet kill-off-the-dinosaur thing triggered the evolution of our species and without the demise of the monsters we would never have had a chance to develop panty hose and athletic supports.

So folks here is the message for the day. It is very likely that for “M” class planets life comes along either evolving, or created by God, in a distinctly sequential manner, single celled bacteria, primitive multi-cell invertebrates, crustaceans, fish, dinosaurs, mammals and soap opera stars of which we are all examples. But if you don’t snuff out the dinosaurs the following species are unlikely to have developed. This is why kids are fascinated with dinosaurs, they know. With out their extinction we would never have gotten past the beadie eyed jungle floor dweller skittering about on all fours trying not to become dinosaur junk food.

I agree that the possibility of planets way out there will have life, but unless their home world got zapped by a big chunk of something, the life forms will have scales and bad breath. Sleek, nearly hairless, two footed, Ken and Barbies need safety and lack of predation to become educated consumers, factory workers and computer programmers.

Sorry to break this to you, but sitting around a campfire discussing Universal warming with a pacified Borg is not going to happen.