Monday, December 08, 2008

Exploring Europa on Earth and What legal rights would an extraterrestrial have

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here's today's news:
g Abodes - An ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Jupiter’s giant moon Europa. At the bottom of that ocean, there could be hydrothermal vents that provide all of the ingredients needed to support life. Exploring those vents won’t be easy, which is why engineers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution plan to practice here on Earth first. See article.
g Message - In the search for life on other worlds, scientists can listen for radio transmissions from stellar neighborhoods where intelligent civilizations might lurk or they can try to actually spot planets like our own in habitable zones around nearby stars. Either approach is tricky and relies on choosing the right targets for scrutiny out of the many thousands of nearby stars in our galactic neighborhood. See article. Note: This article is from 2006.
g Imagining - While science fiction has come a long way from the days of bug-eyed monsters, the genre still hasn't gone far enough in presenting well-conceived alien beings. As a derivative genre, role-playing games have an even poorer record. See article.
g Aftermath - When an alien lands on the White House lawn, who should greet him (her? it?): Someone from the Immigration and Naturalization Service or someone from the Fish and Wildlife Commission? What legal rights would an extraterrestrial have? See article. Note: This article is from 1977, but the issue has been thought about very little.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

2 comments:

R2K said...

One word:

Prime Directive.

Rob Bignell said...

That's certainly one plausible explanation, especially if ETI is of a scientific bent; then limiting oneself to observation is paramount.

At the same time, if human history offers any kind of guide, then economic needs, religious beliefs, and a belief in superiority over "them" drives contact (albeit destructive) between cultures. Economics probably isn't an issue to a starfaring civilization, but why should ETI's other needs and varying belief systems lead them to favor a hands-off policy?