Friday, October 16, 2015

Good chance "we" have found an alien mega-structure 1500 light years away; why life is inevitable


There has been some news recently about possible “life on other worlds”.  First, the same weekend that Matt Damon’s movie “The Martian” premiers, NASA announces if found intermittent running salt water on Mars, in a few spots, probably near the equator in the daytime sun when it can reach 80F.

More recently, astronomers found an unusual pattern of objects blocking light from a star, a bit larger than our Sun, close to 1500 light years away, but about the same distance from the center of the Milky Way in a similar spiral arm.  There is a lot of speculation that the objects could be components of a Dyson Sphere, which would be an array of reflectors capturing all of the Star’s energy for a civilization, probably inhabiting several planets and moons after having terraformed them.  The Independent has one such account here   And the Atlantic has a provocative piece by Ross Andersen here 

 There are possible natural explanations, like unusual swarm of comets.  There is a question of how much mass would have to be mined to build the megastructure.  Maybe a whole planet would be sacrificed.  It sounds like our own mountaintop removal problem.

If it is a Dyson Sphere, we see it as it looked 1500 years ago.  It could be completed and maybe completely obscuring the star today.  If there were one such structure every 2000 light years, that could mean over 100 of them at our distance from the center of the galaxy.



There is another vague story that NASA hadn’t found any evidence of Type 2 or 3 civilization in about 500 galaxies, but they are so far away we’d be looking back in time millions and billions of years.  In my view, there is a good chance this is an alien structure, maybe good for a Ridley Scott movie. To quote a friend, "I will accept nothing less"
 
The lesson on Earth is that life seems to arise where it can.  And it may grow sentient when it can.  Indeed, dolphins and orcas evolved separately from us and are older than us by millions of years, having been elephant-like creatures that returned to the ocean for “free fish”.  They may have “distributed consciousness” as well as individualism.  Their existence raises ethical questions about our responsibilities to respect other sentient lives maybe as conscious of things and of themselves and their social groups as we are.

Air-breathing intelligent creatures on a world with oxygen and water probably would resemble us.  They’d be likely to be biped, have similar organ systems, and about our mass in relation to the planet. Buy they could be based on other theoretical models for RNA and DNA coding, some of which may provide faster evolution than we had.  Would any alien civilization have an “economy” with money like ours?  Would it have recessions and boom?  Maybe Clive Barker’s “Imajica” gives us a view of what living on another planet as a human could be like.

The progression toward life seems to be nature’s way of opposing entropy.  “God” creates, or allows other beings to develop with the ability to make choices, that affect the future. Deciding to have children or not to have children is almost a God-like choice, because it affects what the gene pool will have in future generations after one is long gone.  Consciousness and free-will seems to arise from the “entropy shield” of a living being, but once it exists, it’s a good question for physicists what happens when the body decays and is gone.

Yet, I did not look at “things” this way when I was a young adult, and deciding what mattered in other people to me. I was an only child.  My parents’ marriage will not have a representation in the future.

Second picture, by Vedexent, Wikipedia attribution link for a design of a Dyson Sphere, under Create Commons Share-Alike 3.0 license.

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