We Are the Children of the Stars (7 page)

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If you doubt their word and think they are overexcited visionaries, it would be like doubting the word of Dr. Edward Teller and Dr. Harold Urey of the United States, or any of our top-flight scientists. Vsevolod Troitsky is Director of the Research Radiological Institute in Gorky. Nikolai Kardashev is Laboratory Chief at the Institute of Space Research of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Higher than that you can hardly get in Russia. Samuel Kaplan is also eminent as chief astronomer at Gorky University.

But with their electrifying revelation came a baffling, and perhaps significant, mystery. In their own words, “So far, we have not been able to establish exactly from where the signals emanate, but we can say the source is located in our solar system.”

Not from a distant star,
but from within our own solar system?

That would place the alien transmitter somewhere within 3.5 billion miles, the orbit of Pluto, our outermost planet. But even more startling were their peculiar qualifying words: “It is possible that they [the signals] come from the upper layers of the atmosphere.”

That would place the source far closer to Earth, depending on what is meant by “upper layers of the atmosphere.” An immediate thought comes up, but relax, the Soviets stated positively, “For the moment, one thing is sure – the signals do not come from satellites launched from Earth.”

One always has to read between the lines of any tightlipped Soviet report, and that last phrase is again peculiar – not from
any
Earth
launched satellite, they say. Which leaves it open that it could be from an
alien
satellite within Earth's vicinity, and that would tie in with the signals coming from the “upper atmosphere.”

What is the answer to this riddle? What are the Soviet scientists trying to say, without giving too much away? Do they imply that a robot
probe
sent from a distant star is orbiting within the solar system and sending us messages?

Or – is it a UFO?

Like the U.S. government, the Soviet government has taken great pains to deny the existence of the many reported UFOs, or flying saucers. Are they too ashamed now to admit that they were wrong and that their radio-telescopes picked up UFO signals? More likely, they are too canny to call it a UFO, because they need stronger evidence.

Though the Russians seem positive about the signals, there has been no confirmation yet from any U.S. or European scientists, as of this writing. Before you read this, however, the signals may have been corroborated, with worldwide scientists tuning them in and no doubt trying to translate them with computers.

And that would mean the theory of Hybrid Man and colony Earth is boosted high in probability.

But even more of a boost comes from one of those three scientists. Listen to the arresting words of Professor Nikolai Kardashev, of the Soviet Space Institute: “I also believe there is intelligent life elsewhere but, unlike most of my colleagues, I think there
is only one other civilization in our galaxy, a supercivilization
. It would be millions, even a billion years older than we are and fantastically more developed (scientifically). To the beings of this civilization we would be insects.”
15
(Italics added.)

Or a colonial anthill?

Why would Professor Kardashev make such a peculiar statement? Surely he does not believe that only Earth independently developed civilization
besides
that single supercivilization. Unvoiced in his opinion, for fear of ridicule, no doubt, must be the
implied belief that the original great civilization then spread out and
populated
or colonized the rest of the galaxy.

If his suspicions are based on any sort of clues at all in his astronomical work, then certainly the theory of a colonized Earth, if not Hybrid Man, is bolstered at a top level of science.

Now another problem enters the picture. Even if there are civilized worlds, how could their spaceships ever have reached Earth? By the law of averages, the nearest inhabited worlds might be at least 100 light-years away, and more likely over 1,000 light-years.

A light-year, of course, is the distance light travels in a whole year at the fantastic speed of 186,300 miles per second, making a total of just under 6 trillion miles. If light is the “fastest thing in the universe” (according to Einstein's relativity), then starmen would require 100 or 1,000 or even 25,000 years to get to Earth. Such trips would, in short, occupy
lifetimes
.

This seems to make the Earth-colony concept untenable, but only at first glance.
If
the light-speed barrier cannot be broken, let us list some of the possibilities:

  1. The starmen are long-lived, with lifetimes of 1,000 years or more. (Why not, if the Bible lists its Methuselahs living for centuries on end?) In that case, a trip from a star within 100 light-years would take only one-tenth of their lifetime, comparable to some of the years-long sailing trips unhesitatingly made by Magellan and others to explore Earth.
  2. The starmen put themselves into “hibernation,” or suspended animation, for the bulk of the trip. Thus, they could lie blissfully asleep for a century or even 100 centuries and wake up only upon arrival on Earth. And remember, such a major project as
    colonizing another distant world would call for those or similar heroic measures.
  3. The “time dilation” angle to Einstein's relativity points out that the closer the spaceship gets to lightspeed itself, the more time “slows down” for the crew aboard. There have been many examples given in literature of how space travelers going at 99 percent of the light-speed would only age ten or twenty years, while the planet of departure would experience ages going by. Though a rather unsatisfactory solution to long-range space travel, with the penalty of returning to their home planet to find it an age ahead, determined starmen could be willing to come and colonize Earth under those conditions.

But the answer may be far simpler than that, if the light-speed barrier of unknowing Earth science is fallacious.

And just as scientific orthodoxy at one time rather recklessly said that aircraft could never fly, that the sound barrier could not be broken, that rockets could never reach to the moon, so today the science establishment opposes the possibility that the light barrier can be broken.

It would, however, seem safer to say that a world of sciencetechnology a million years old could have found the golden way to speed through space at fantastic rates measured in multi-lightspeeds and reach any world they wish.

We will drop the matter there as too nebulous to pursue. If the starmen have been and are here, does it matter how they got here?

However, making it possible for starmen to go faster than light in their vast planet-hopping project is of interest only if the starmen truly exist. And that brings us back to the question of whether there is life, and particularly intelligent life, in the universe. A question that may soon be solved.

There is a sort of “exobiology race” going on today. Exobiology is the embryo science of extraterrestrial life, or life anywhere else in the universe than on Earth. So far, it is almost entirely theory, with little empirical (experimental or material) proof.

The radio-astronomers are racing to pick up the first provable intelligent signals.

The space-cloud bioastronomers are seeking to nail down the existence of life molecules between the stars.

The meteorite specialists are attempting to clinch the fossil evidence of life in stones from other parts of interstellar space.

And the planetary scientists are striving to detect the first true signs of nonearth life on the planets of our own solar system.

We will take up this last category in the next chapter, for it may furnish us the first thrilling proof that life can spring up – in whatever fashion – on another world than our own.

3
Planetary Clues

F
IRST OF ALL, let us mention that the classical concept of our solar system with eight other dead planets and thirty-odd lifeless moons surrounding the living Earth has rapidly changed in the past decade. Scientists are no longer willing to state categorically that there is no life at all on the other planets, even on the coldest and most remote ones.

Jupiter, for instance. This most gigantic of planets, 88,770 miles in equatorial diameter and 484 million miles from the sun, was always thought to be abysmally frigid, somewhere around minus 202°F. But studies with ultraviolet and infrared instruments that could penetrate clouds showed that this low-temperature reading was at a high altitude above the surface, just as Earth's upper air is fantastically cold.

Down below, according to some data, the temperature of Jupiter could be as high as 70°F. In short, like a balmy summer day on Earth. Under such thermal conditions, and with a known “reducing” atmosphere much like that of primeval Earth, there was little reason why life should not have sprung up there too.

In fact, Dr. Carl Sagan, the expert on planets at Cornell, had even postulated the possibility of teeming life there, whose variety of forms and sheer quantity would be hundreds of times greater than on Earth.

With an assist by Pioneer-10's data, Sagan's daring hypothesis may well turn out true. The Pioneer-10 space probe made a flyby of Jupiter on December 3, 1973. Its many sophisticated sensors
discovered surprising new phenomena. One of them was that Jupiter's thick atmosphere thins out considerably at lower altitudes because it is boiling hot. In fact, the surface temperature may hit as high as 800°F, as
hot
as Venus.
1
If the giant planet has any lofty peaks where temperature would drop to reasonable levels, then indeed Jupiter may fairly crawl with life all over its vast surface.

Saturn, too, has gone through such a revision as to its temperature and whether or not it could support life. In 1972, several colleagues of Carl Sagan at Cornell University used the gigantic radio-telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, to probe beneath the huge planet's cloudy atmosphere and pick up long radio wavelengths indicating that “Saturn, like Jupiter, is not entirely the frozen wasteland it was once thought to be.”
2
And, furthermore, that “there are areas in Saturn's atmosphere much warmer and possible more conducive to life than scientists have previously thought likely.”

The very latest is that solar-system scientists are now considering whether even remote Uranus, and perhaps such big moons as Titan (Saturn) and Ganymede or Calisto (Jupiter) might not be warm enough to harbor some kind of life, even if primeval.

We must make a point here.
If any kind of life, even the lowly lichen, algae, or some other one-celled microorganism, is detected or found anywhere out in space away from Earth, it will instantly make tenable all speculations that the universe is filled with living worlds. And that will make intelligent life of such high probability that it will amount to dead certainty.

Exobiology will then no longer be a set of theories seeking a science.

In passing, we might mention that Venus is not yet to be marked down as so super-hot that no life as we know it can possibly exist there. Even though scientists using radar techniques, and our close-approach space probes (Russian and American), have measured temperatures anywhere from 540°F to above 800°F, they have been careful not to claim that this makes life impossible there.

BOOK: We Are the Children of the Stars
3.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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