THE SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE

Another answer is that the UFOs are actually von Neumann probes (Tipler, 1980) and that the vast number of sightings which, if true, would indicate the use of large amounts of fuel and construction material, which could, perhaps, be explained with reference to Tipler’s postulation of self-replicating probes using local resources (see Chapter 6). If this is the case, there is no  evidence that they are using terrestrial resources; there are no alien mines, factories or assembly plants.

Theories of galactic colonization are popular with science fiction writers but the practical problems are clearly enormous. Consider spaceships travelling one-tenth the speed of light which are committed to a programme of galactic colonization. Suppose they spread outwards at distances of 50 light  years, and then allow about 500 years recuperation time to consolidate settlements, extract resources and establish outposts for further exploration. Each 50 light years of colonization would take 1,000 years. The diameter of the galaxy is 100,000 light years, which would require 2,000 stages. At 1,000 years each it would take about 2 million years to colonize the galaxy. Of course, the galaxy has been in existence for considerably longer than that, and several scientists have speculated on the possibility that a colonization process is already underway. This topic, however, will be examined in Chapter 6.

Explanations for overcoming the distance and energy requirements vary in plausibility and credibility. Gary Kinder’s (1988) report on the experience of the Swiss farmer, Eduard Meier, offers one explanation. Throughout the 1970s Meier claimed to have had frequent contact with beings from a distant cluster of several thousands of stars, known as the Pleiades, in the constellation of Taurus, which is about 500 light years from the Earth. Astronomers maintain that the Pleiades are too young for intelligent life to have evolved. But Meier responds by stating that they have formed a colony there and are adapting to the planetary climates artificially. Even if there is intelligent life there the distance is impressive. Travelling at the speed of light a return trip would take 1,000 years. According to Meier’s reported ‘conversations’ with the Pleiadian visitors, it is possible for   them to travel many times faster than light and on average they could make the trip in seven hours by using an advanced technique of collapsing time and space (Kinder, 1988: 185). Further details of this  ‘advanced technique’ are not supplied, which is why such reports are of little value for scientific explanation. But Meier’s credibility sinks with his claims to have travelled backwards in time, to have photographed the great earthquake at San Francisco, to have met Jesus and to have been inducted as the thirteenth disciple, and to have taken a trip to the edge of the universe where he photographed the  eye  of  God  (Bord  and Bord, 1992: 170).

It is, of course, always possible to dismiss objections to long-distance UFO journeys by means of appeals to systems and principles ‘not yet appreciated by terrestrial scientists’. These frequently refer to gravity or anti-gravity technology, hyperdimensional energy sources, techniques involving time dilation, travelling through ‘wormholes’, and various ways of taking a short-cut through space and

 

 

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time, as well as consciousness-assisted technology (CAT) or technology-assisted consciousness (TAC). As it is believed that many advanced EBEs have mastered telepathy, precognition and other senses which are beyond our knowledge, they can presumably utilize the energy of consciousness.

Parallels are sometimes drawn between scientific sceptics who dismiss UFO reports by citing energy limitations on interstellar travel and nineteenth-century scientists whose prejudices prevented them from investigating reports of meteors, despite well-documented evidence. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier had pointed out that stones could not fall from the sky as there were no stones in the sky! Meteors were observed, and the craters were there to be examined, but scientific sceptics ignored this evidence because they believed that rocks cannot fall from the sky. So, argue the Ufologists, today’s prejudices regarding the energy limitations on interstellar journeys, will be swept away by the discoveries of future generations of scientists. Moreover, they may argue, such advanced technology may be at the disposal of the EBEs whose visits are so well documented.

The problem with this argument is that a shift in scientific beliefs to the acceptance of meteors required very little revision of  theory – no modifications to classical mechanics – and did not require any prior commitment to beliefs which were wholly incompatible with canonical knowledge. This is not the case with appeals to as-yet-unknown energy sources. Moreover, there is no prejudice against the discovery of new energy sources as there was against claims concerning meteors; the world is crying out for new energy sources and would amply reward any scientist who discovered them. But sadly, there are no such sources and no plausible suggestions as to how they could be found.

The main objection to UFO space flight is bound up with arguments about the restrictions on terrestrial organized space travel: it is too costly in resources, and solutions to energy problems require exotic new scientific breakthroughs, although plausible developments in nuclear fusion engineering capabilities could be anticipated within a century or two (Kuiper and Morris, 1977). The other main objection is that the distance between potentially habitable sites is too great. Of course this might not be such a problem if they have life-spans much longer than ours or bigger spaceships possibly providing more living space than our crowded cities, so that several generations may dwell there on long voyages or travel in states of suspended animation for centuries.

Not every account of UFO phenomena is attached to beings from far-away places, who travel in ‘nuts and bolts’ spacecraft. There are theories of super-beings who live under the sea, advanced civilizations in  remote parts of the world such as the Himalayas or the Antarctic, under the ice or even in parallel universes to which access is found in various hypothesized ‘tunnels’ (Bord and Bord, 1992: 186). One proposal by David Barclay (1994) actually invokes the traditional philosophical problem of the relationship between appearance and reality by suggesting that UFOs are actually ‘telepresences in a universal VR’. According to Barclay, UFOs are part of a cyberspace system, and the whole universe is itself a virtual reality system which encompasses our reality as well as

 

 

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