HORTON HEARS A WHAT?
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
The search for extraterrestrial life has fascinated man for centuries, certainly since Copernicus established that the Earth was not the center of the universe. But the hunt moved beyond conjecture and theorizing only in the 20th century, as we came to understand the universe better and even traveled out into space.
In August of 2017, the Breakthrough Listen team detected 15 fast radio bursts, that originated from the location FRB 121102, named thus because it was discovered on November 2, 2012. According to a news release on the Breakthrough Listen website, FRBs are “brief, bright pulses of radio emission from distant galaxies.”
The Fast Radio Bursts and Gamma Bursts from space have been in the news since last year. An MIT astronomer by the name of John A. Ball has an even more intriguing theory as to what these gamma bursts are caused by. In a paper entitled, Gamma Ray Bursts: The ETI Hypothesis, Ball suggests that the explosions that trigger gamma bursts might actually be communications from across the stars.
According to Ball, gamma radiation could contain one sextillion bits of information in a tiny two-microsecond burst, which would be “comparable to the estimated total information content of Earth’s bio-system—genes and memes and including all libraries and computer media”.
As far-fetched as this idea might sound, it does make a certain amount of sense.
After all, the Fermi Paradox suggests that we should have come across alien signals by this point, and as we haven’t noticed them, it makes sense that these aliens don’t communicate using technology that’s in any way comparable to our own.
Plus, if humanity had the power to blow up a star in order to issue an enormous message to the universe, we’d definitely try communicating through gamma radiation, especially considering everything we know about how these signals could last endlessly as they travel across the stars.
Indeed, other celestial anomalies that we spot across the stars could be aliens’ attempts to communicate with other species. Blinking lights in space have been observed, and these do match up to a certain extent with our own species’ attempts to communicate with extraterrestrial life.
There is, though, one big challenge standing in the way of proving Ball’s theory: in order to figure out whether aliens are actually trying to communicate with us, we’ll need to decipher their code.
And as we reported four days ago, Breakthrough Listen is looking for bigger budgets and as we have speculated, bigger budgets mean that they may have had a nibble or even something that they could see had potential but they just could not make out a signal that can be duplicated or documented as proof o anything.
This is no easy ask — first off, we don’t know which, if any, of the gamma bursts that we spot across the night’s sky might contain hidden messages from aliens.
A few days ago it was reported that the Breakthrough Listen Project completed a sweeping search of over 1,700 nearby stars for signs of alien technology and came up empty-handed.
At the moment there have been no direct technosignatures of alien life that can be duplicated. Every once in a while something looks promising. However, the Breakthrough Listen Project is saying that if they just beefed up their equipment they may be able to boost the ability to find without a doubt a technical signature that would certainly prove the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Four days ago, Richard Hoagland appeared on Ground Zero and as always he seems to be the king of cosmic synchronicity. While he was called upon to give his expertise on various anomalies on Mars and whether or not they may indicate that there may be life on the planet after all, there was a brief discussion about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the Gold disc that he and Carl Sagan created to send out into deep space to get the attention of any and all beings that may reside on planets outside our solar system.
Pioneers 10 and 11, which preceded Voyager, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future. With this example before them, NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2, a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.
It was a cosmic message in a bottle and our attempt to reach out to extraterrestrial to let them know that we are here on a blue dot somewhere near a yellow sun and that we have the desire to know that we are not alone.
It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music.
As we know, there had been no alien reply to the disc that was sent into space. Every skeptic in every science journal I have read quotes Enrico Fermi the scientists that asked “where are they?”
Well, a breaking story may have us saying that we just found out.
It was reported yesterday that a powerful shiver of waves came from a Milky Way-sized galaxy that scientists were able to pinpoint for the first time using three of the world’s largest optical telescopes.
Granted, the huge burst of radio waves was a one off but it was a very impressive hello from somewhere.
Scientists say that this extraterrestrial signal is precisely located to a galaxy 3.6 billion light-years away.
The discovery was made by an Australian-led international team using a new radio telescope belonging to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian science agency.
Since 2007, just 85 cosmic radio wave bursts have been detected. Most are “one-offs” but a small amount are “repeaters” which recur in the same place.
Two years ago, astronomers found a “repeater” home galaxy but this is the first time they have exactly located a “one-off” ripple. Fast radio bursts last less than a millisecond which makes it incredibly hard to pinpoint their origin.
The technology used in the discovery was the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope.
Whenever I hear about fast radio bursts and how they may be signals sent to us from ancient alien civilizations I am often reminded of one of my favorite Doctor Seuss stories from my childhood “Horton Hears a Who.”
It is the story of Horton the Elephant, who, while splashing in a pool, hears a small speck of dust talking to him. Horton surmises that a small person lives on the speck and places it on a clover, vowing to protect it. He later discovers that the speck is actually a tiny planet, home to a community called Whoville, where microscopic creatures called Whos live. So Horton sets off into the Jungle of Nool to tell everybody about the little planet situated on the dust speck and the aliens that live on it.
In his mission to protect the speck, Horton is ridiculed and harassed by the other animals in the jungle for believing in something they can’t see or hear. He is first criticized by a skeptical Kangaroo and her baby. The splash they make as they jump into the pool almost reaches the speck, so Horton decides to find somewhere safer for it.
But the news of his odd new behavior spreads quickly, and he is soon harassed by a group of monkeys. They steal the clover from him and give it to a black-bottomed eagle. That flies over the clover a long distance, with Horton in pursuit, until Eagle drops it into a field of clovers.
After a long search, Horton finally finds the clover with the speck on it.
However, the Mayor informs him that Whoville, the town on the speck, is in bad shape from the fall, and Horton discovers that the kangaroo and the monkeys have caught up to him.
They tie Horton up and threaten to incinerate the speck in a pot of “Beezle-Nut” oil.
To save Whoville, Horton implores the little people to make as much noise as they can, to prove their existence. So almost everyone in Whoville shouts, sings, and plays instruments, but still, no one but Horton can hear them.
So the Mayor searches Whoville until he finds a very small boy named JoJo, who is playing with a yo-yo instead of making noise.
The Mayor carries him to the top of Eiffelberg Tower, where Jojo lets out a loud “Yopp!”, which finally makes the kangaroo and the monkeys hear the Whos. Now convinced of the Whos’ existence, the other jungle animals vow to help Horton protect the tiny community.
Basically, the story is about equality and how people are people no matter who they are, what they believe, or how small they may be.
However, for the longest time, I always thought that the story was a great metaphor for how we on earth would react to someone if they said that they were in contact with an alien world.
The recent radio burst that was picked up in Australia hit into the array and, in half a second, all of Pathfinder’s 36 dishes received that data. It stopped searching and downloaded all the information it received.
Here’s where the big science comes in: because the radio burst hit each dish at a somewhat different time, the team behind it was able to calculate the arrival time difference to one-tenth of a nanosecond. From there on, the astronomers put their cosmic Sherlock hats on and started to search for the source, tracing the burst’s signal to a single spot in the sky.
That spot was a galaxy next to ours, more specifically, 13,000 light-years away from the galaxy’s center.
The team then focused a number of telescopes around the world, including the Very Large Telescope and the Keck telescope to the spot the burst came from. Unfortunately, the galaxy is located so far away it’s impossible for us to see what it’s causing it. At least for the technology we currently have available.
Again, a few days ago we knew that as budgets were being proposed the big Hello from ET was about to be revealed and this one is the big one.
In the past the explanations as to what causes these radio bursts range from neutron stars to aliens.
Keith Bannister, principal research engineer with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is not ruling out extraterrestrial life for now either.
That is amazing news.
I used to say in past shows that pulsars, Gamma bursts, and fast radio bursts are God’s way of saying “Hello I am out here and I am still watching.”
I remember a story that was in a film released before Horton Hears a Who called “The Next Voice You Hear.” The story is about a farmer who hears a strange voice on the radio trying to communicate with him directly. The Voice claims to be God. The voice eventually preempts all radio programs for days all over the world.
The film starred James Whitmore and Nancy Davis who eventually became first lady, Nancy Reagan.
Their characters are Joe and Mary Smith, a typical American couple. It was based on a short story of the same name by George Sumner Albee. The voice is never heard by the audience.
The frustration that I had with the film is the protagonist of the film, Joe Smith, would tell everyone he heard a voice speak to him through his radio and when he tried to find others to listen, some unforeseen circumstances would come up and the person wouldn’t hear the voice.
The voice comes on one evening while he is relaxing listening to the radio. Instead of the familiar radio show coming on, there is a voice who says, “He is God.” The message is, “This is God. I’ll be with you for the next few days.” We never really hear the voice, but we see the farmer is shaken and he is telling his wife and son what happened.
Mary, Joe’s wife tells her husband that she feels it is a hoax, like one of those radio shows that Mr. Welles created. Of course, she is referring to Orson Welles, War of The Worlds broadcast.
The next day is typical, in that life went on but this time the lunch conversation is about the voice. It is revealed that the voice was heard on every radio station at the same time. The FCC is looking into it, as investigating whether there was a break-in at the local radio station.
And so it goes, for 6 nights, each time with a short message from God. Some people react with fear, and others with scorn, but Joe is struck by the intrusion of the supernatural into his life, and begins to examine himself.
Even though the movie is solidly set in a time over 60 years ago, it seems timeless. After all, who can’t relate to living life as you do, and suddenly being confronted with the fact that something otherworldly is speaking to you, which forces an inner conflict and soul searching.
We have all had that feeling something or someone has been trying to communicate with us. While the film “The Last Voice You Hear” is about a voice claiming it is God — we have seen many times over the years where films have tried to convey the message that we are not alone.
Today in films, God does not speak through radios, but extra-terrestrials do and while many people are expecting a voice that sounds human speaking to them through a radio telescope. The reality may be as simple as a few chirps and warbles—or even Fast Radio Bursts.
In the 1997 film, Contact, there was a message sent to Earth, by extra-terrestrials that was interlaced with data. The message was Hitler’s speech during the 1936 Olympics which had scientists worried.
The communication at first sounded like scrapes and chirps and after the data was analyzed it was learned that embedded in the data was footage of a swastika imprinted flag waving over the stadium where the Olympics were held.
The message of the film was very similar to the one in, The Next Voice You Hear, and that is if and when contact is made, will it be an experience that will be spiritual or will it be something more tangible?
It doesn’t matter if you believe or don’t believe in aliens or UFOs, the cultural awakening to the possibility is as vibrant and valid as a belief or non- belief in God.
Mythologies are sacred in some circles and in others, dismissed, yet the archetypes in them never leave us. They continue in other forms and with even more manifestation that leaves skeptics curious and hardens the resolve of the true believers.
Myths based on truths are what shape world view. Myths also shape world spiritual views and within religious and the political spectrum, those views are powerful determinants in what we as a people feel is good or evil.
Jacques Vallée has pointed out, “If UFOs are acting at the mythic and spiritual level it will be almost impossible to detect it by conventional methods.” However, in the political and scientific world, this will not stand and many skeptics will not be satisfied with faith or hypothetical speculation.
However, you cannot deny that the recent reports about the Navy, the president, and senators being briefed about UFOs, possible life on Mars and this new extraterrestrial greeting has not had an effect on the cultural world view– to say otherwise would be disingenuous.
To also say that all scientists have dismissed the idea of extra-terrestrials communicating with us would also be a fallacy.
It is obvious that the evidence keeps pouring in and soon a deluge of undeniable events will take place and the question is whether or not we are psychologically ready for the truth.
Many people who see themselves as religious may find the reality of extra-terrestrials threatening and have resolved to call it a lie, or a staged manipulation in order to create a necessity for a globalist government that is united against a manufactured enemy from heaven. It can be intimidating to realize that mankind is now being programmed to turn to the outer world as a group for answers to the question of the alien reality.
This may not be for our benefit.
Even renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking has weighed in on the “alien” question and says he most definitely believes that aliens exist. He has stated that “If aliens visit us, the outcome could be much like when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.”
While Hawking has given warning about our first contact, he also has engaged in a bit of doublethink by putting up the money necessary to finance the Breakthrough Listen Project.
I guess he was hedging his bets before he passed away.
With all of the diagrams and gold records we have sent into space and with all of the radio telescopes giving an ear to the cosmos and sending out signals – the hook has already been baited and we are being told that within 10 years we will know for sure if aliens are communicating with us.
I wonder though, what are we expecting to hear from the extraterrestrials?
I ask this question because I have been reading a lot of stories in the science pages which have talked about signals that are being sent and then, they are being repeated. And while the sounds are not voices, they certainly indicate the heavens are sending us various sounds and data streams that perhaps we need to analyze and try to decipher.
The evidence of life beyond our solar system may well be found by carefully combing the astronomical data that are collected every day for things that are anomalous, things that are a little different — it may not even be proven in the signals that have been received recently.
If we can detect some sort of biological anomaly or some chemical imbalance from a planet that would indicate remotely that perhaps aliens or something else have somehow changed the balance of their atmosphere.
It would be like the aliens were sending us some subtle cosmic smoke signal or it would be like a small dust speck sending out many signals until one breaks through loud and clear.
It would be then that we would have to confront the cosmic elephant in the room.