Friday, June 03, 2005

Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Eric Idle, in his Galaxy Song, says it all:

"And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
Because there's bugger all down here on Earth."

That about sums it up for me. Yeah, I know that humankind has pulled itself up, in a very short time, from living in caves and hunting wild animals to living in fancy homes and paying someone else to kill and carve up animals bred and raised specifically to feed us. Yes, many of us live in air-conditioned comfort, drive comfortable cars and have everything we want and need. But some of us live in hovels, plagued by all manner of unsavoury critters and disease, and go to bed hungry.

In some nations, unsold consumer goods and foodstuffs that would be welcome elsewhere are destroyed. It isn't always a matter of the owners of the goods not wanting to share, it most often simply isn't feasible or even prudent to give the stuff away. Goods of every description shipped by individuals, corporations and charities to needy nations, often rot or rust on the docks because there is no distribution system in place. Or, more likely, corrupt government officials appropriate the goods to themselves and use them in ways that further their ambitions. To hell with the masses, right? So what if thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions starve. These so-called leaders, the very people who are supposed to be helping the citizenry, have their Swiss bank accounts, their Rolls Royces, their mansions. That appears to be all that matters to them.

As far as I can tell, there is no single place on earth where anyone has to go to bed hungry. There is arable land enough. There are producers enough. There is seed enough. All that is necessary is for the corrupt, useless a**holes who impede the efforts of those who could ameliorate the problem is to get the hell out of the way and take all the do-gooders and know-nothings and social engineers who plague us all with them.

That won't happen. That is the nature of humankind, at least a large enough percentage to spoil it all for the rest of us. Power. Control. That's what it is all about. They know best. We don't.

I have always thought that if we, the human race, were the best there is in our universe, it would be a very sorry situation indeed. Somewhere, there has to be something better. Let's not get into the religious premise here that we are all imperfect, base creatures who are nothing without God's grace and forgiveness. For the purposes of this 'discussion,' let's just take things at face value. You may well be a perfect human being. I'm not. Look around you. That guy sitting one cubicle over, is he perfect? Is he the best there is in the universe? How about that spouse of yours who lives to belittle and torment you. Is he or she the best there is in the universe?

I didn't think so.

What are the chances that somewhere in the universe there might be a race of beings better than we are, made up of individuals who understand responsibility, co-operation, respect? I have no idea, but there must at least be a tiny chance. It's a very, very, very long shot, I know, but it sure would be great to find out.

Aren't you curious? I sure am. I am so curious that for years I have had a half-dozen computers churning away, 24 hours a day, running the SETI@HOME software found here to help in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It can't hurt. If you have any unused computers, or if you can run SETI@HOME on your computer while you are not using it, why not consider helping out? The software runs automatically whenever the computer isn't in use. That means you have to leave the machine running 24/7, and spend an extra few pennies on electricity, but isn't it worth it? I have contributed 31,373 hours of processing time so far and will likely add more full-time computers as they are replaced by newer machines in my businesses.

Get on board! It's fun.

By the way, if we do eventually find some other creatures out there and if their kind is even nastier than the human race, please forget that I was the one who encouraged you to help with the search. There are enough people pissed off at me already.

Thanks in advance.


  1. lol!

    As soon as I'm back online, I'll set it up.

    I often wonder, if alien beings ever survey our world to attempt to gauge how they might be welcomed.. what do you think they think about War of the Worlds and Independence Day n' stuff. I mean, yeah, you can only make ET once and get away with it, but those poor buggers.. they're probably exhausting all resource getting ready to really kick our ass.

  2. Let's hope any potential alien visitors recognize the difference between fact and fiction. Speaking of War of the Worlds, did you ever hear the musical version from back in the eighties narrated by Richard Burton, with music by Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and others? I used to love to listen to that.