Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Hi All

Hope you had a joyful celebration of Christ’s Birth, even if you’re not a Christian. Which ever God (or not) you might invoke I hope the New Year will see you blessed by Him/Her/Ver/It…

Now we approach the Earth rounding its perihelion let’s remember that we all share the same planet, the same Sun and rain falls on us all. I went to see “The Day the Earth Stood Still” on Boxing Day – the premiere here in Oz – and quite enjoyed the flick. The “nano-bugs” that become an all-consuming “Gray Swarm” looked kind of familiar – the “nematodes” from “Red Planet” seem to belong to the same Class of CGI animated “bugs”. I won’t give away any more spoilers, but suffice to say it was a good remake of an old classic. I’m a Keanu Reeves/Jennifer Connelly fan, so anything either is in is watchable in my eyes, but without their respective X-factors it was still a good film. Lots of sub-texts, and some good head-nods to modern astrobiology and SETI theorising. The idea that ETIs might exist amongst us as indistinguishable human analogues (IHAs) has a long history and is underappreciated as a possible Contact/Observation strategy by advanced post-biological societies. The late Chris Boyce made the same point about 10 years ago, and it deserves serious consideration in any answer to the Fermi Paradox.

On that point Stephen Baxter has published an important new paper in The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, which argues that reflected sunlight could have been used to communicate with early societies any time during the Neolithic. If ETIs exist, and were able to have visited, then they could well have communicated with humans anytime since the origins of urban societies (i.e. since at least 8,000 BC) as particulate pollution and greenhouse trace gases would have provided a distinctive observational signature to ETIs observing the Earth optically from other star-systems. Conversely we could well do the same once our telescopic facilities become large enough.