Tag Archives: science

UFOs exist and this is what you should know

Of course UFOs exist. They always have been and probably always will be. If you can’t identify a flying object, then it simply is an unidentified flying object. It’s that plain simple. But what is an unidentified flying object? Well, it’s unidentified so we don’t know. It could be a secret military object, with or without alien technology hailed from the 1947 Roswell incident, it could be an extraterrestrial object, with or without aliens inside or something completely different after all. We. Don’t. Know.

More and more “mainstream media” are now reporting that military people have been seeing these objects and are now coming forward that they’ve seen them. Or rather, it’s made public. Some newspapers and news sites have picked up this story. Some don’t. It’s not the first time reports are coming out that unidentified objects have been seen by military people and pilots. What is different this time? The outcry from the UFO community. And it is not helping one bit.

In your face!

“Booyah, in your face I told you so!” is never a good look and this rings true in this case as well. It looks like people within the UFO community are celebrating that finally they have mainstream coverage. And that disclosure is now happening. And that’s a good thing of course. But they are also harassing news outlets that haven’t covered the story (for reasons, I suppose) and are harassing the science world with “Hey, why aren’t you saying anything now, you twats?”.

It is not pretty.

I know the UFO community has worked hard on making ufology acceptable, to be accepted for their belief that UFOs are out there. In cases of mainstream exposure like this time (it has happened before mind you), you hear them say that it’s always been about the unidentified notion, not aliens persé. I’m afraid that this last thing isn’t necessarily true. If ufology was only about the notion of unidentified and willing to unravel secret military on-goings, aliens would never ever even been mentioned.

Hassle the cattle

Okay, here’s the thing. UFO has a nasty name. It’s been ridiculed for decennia. It stands for believing in little green men from outer space with funny antennas on their heads. It stands for greys only here to hassle the cattle and anal probing humans. UFO stands for crazy people. This is a problem. It is a real problem. Because believing in extraterrestrial intelligent life, believing that it might be possible that they know about us and have been here already, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crazy.

I believe it’s possible. I believe UFOs have been seen by military people, pilots and other people. It may be secret objects, it might be extraterrestrial. I don’t know. I think it’s good that media is writing about these things without making fun of the subject. It’s highly refreshing. It’s good that people who would never look for these stories, can read about this. And if it’s highly secret stuff, we may want to know about it at some point, right? It is however not a good idea to harass other people that they’ve been stupid. Just because you’ve been labeled stupid doesn’t give you that same right. No one has that right.

Story of the century

The news item that people from the Navy have seen UFOs is not the story of the century. The story of the century is either that the UFOs are indeed 100% confirmed military flight planes capable of destroying half the Earth with one single shot being kept a secret for over half a century, or exotic life forms stepping out of these UFOs. If not, it’s a news story, an exciting one that possibly leads to more information about these objects, but by no means it’s “the story of the century”.

The news items are normalising UFO sightings and that is a positive thing and an incredible step forward in what may indeed lead towards a possible story of the century. The behaviour by groups of UFO people harassing people and shouting Booyah I told you so is damaging this leap forward. Am I saying that ufology is currently damaging their own progress? Yes I do.

Hard work is paying off

Credit where credit is due because the UFO community has been working hard at being taken seriously. And they have succeeded in some aspects actually. News outlets have been reporting more about UFO related stories in a normal and matter of fact way. Documentaries on the subjects have been exposed to an incredible large audience by for instance Netflix and bookstores are more and more stocking books on the subject. New books will even be reviewed in newspaper without completely slamming the subject down. It’s more that we (yes we, because in a way I’m UFO people too) could have ever hoped and dreamed of. Don’t ruin this with the first sign of success.

What also bothers me, and has always bothered me, is the slamming down of ‘these science people’. ‘These people’ apparently are the enemy. I won’t deny that science can be quite degrading towards the subjects of UFOs and aliens. At the same time science, and astrobiology in particular, is more than ever working on definite proof that we’re not alone in the universe. No, they’re not looking for evidence of UFOs. They’re looking for life forms. Which also could be the news of the century.

Stay classy!

Is that it though? Does the UFO community want to be the ultimate truth as the news of the century and is science search for alien life threatening this? It’s a ridiculous question. But so is the harassing of ‘these science people’ only because they’re not investigating or acknowledging UFOs. Investigating UFOs is the work of ufologists, doing science is the work of scientists. These two can coexist and essentially help each other. I’m looking in both directions in this case.

Even though I’m incredibly annoyed by the behaviour of ufology these days, I will continue to follow. Because it’s not just about slamming down science, newspapers and each other for that matter. It’s the continuous quest for recognition. The serious (and less serious) investigations that are still being made. It’s the reporting of sightings and the research of these sightings, sometimes saying it’s just been a satellite (or 60) and sometimes saying it really can’t be explained.

Keep at it UFO people! But, for everything that we stand for, stay classy. Just stay classy and be polite and point people to the new findings, not harass them for not paying attention at this time. That will get us another big step forward. The current state of ufology, I’m afraid not. Don’t ruin what you build up so passionately is what I’m saying. I know you’re just passionate but you also know I’m right. Stay classy guys!

Yes, this is about climate change

Scientists have again determined with a near 100% certainty that our current climate change is caused by humans. One online Dutch news site had this news item not only prominent on their front page, but also made the statement that all comments on their news items that would indicate that climate change is fake or anything in that nature, will be removed. They don’t tolerate fake facts. I really applaud this. Of course there were the people who claimed their “freedom of speech”. But freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say the sky is green, because that’s your opinion. The same applies for climate change. It’s not an opinion.

 

We should really worry about our climate. It’s February and I’m taking my midday walk in a t-shirt without a jacket. It’s 17C but at the same time that doesn’t keep people from wearing their winter jackets out in the afternoon. I guess we all need to get used to it in our own terms. The weather hits a new extreme record week after week. The seasons are shifting. This will have consequences on life. Safe the planet! The inconvenient truth in this is, the planet will be fine. Sure, they’re might be a possibility it ends up as either Mars or Venus eventually, but the planet will adapt. The question is, can we?

Origins

Over the course of history the Earth has endured many shifts in climates, from being colder to being warmer. This shaped the world as we know it today. To have an extended rundown on this interesting development I highly recommend reading “Origins. How the Earth made us.” By Lewis Dartnell. He will be able to tell you this much better than I can. How we live today is dictated by climate. If the climate changes, we need to adapt. But are we capable of doing so? Everything we know is built on this. New situations require new insights and solutions. But, the good news is, humans are creating this change. Therefore, it’s up to humans to do something about it.

If we don’t, climate will run us over and forces us to make decisions that will not be pretty. I live in the Netherlands for instance, so a rise in sea levels is not exactly something I’m looking forward to. Of course, the Dutch are masters in defeating water. Kim Stanley Robinson makes good use of this in his books that handle the world after climate change. But there’s a limit to this. We can’t defend land by building a ten meters high wall along the beaches of north-west Europe. Or anywhere else for any matter.

After the flood

There will be mass migration. Not just because of rising sea levels, but our land will not be suitable for the things it was suitable before. It may be too dry or too wet. It may be too cold or it may be to warm. So like the previous mass migration of our ancestors who left Africa for that very reason, we will encounter other people who already live there. I don’t think I need to tell anyone what that will result in. I trust that anyone reading this blog has a decent knowledge of history as well.

Where humans and domesticated animals will suffer, eventually when all has sunken in and we probably have reduced our numbers radically through war, famine and diseases, the earth will restore itself and adapt. Maybe the surviving humans live under domes. Life outside that dome will flourish again. It will find its way in the new environment and eventually will tear down the abandoned cities and make it their own again. Animals will get extinct but new ones will stand up and thrive in the new environment. If Earth ends up like Mars or Venus, things still will end up grim for everyone, but those planets have not turned the way they are overnight. It’s also not said that they’re completely lifeless either.

Change

The survival of humans on Earth is in our own hands. And it’s our duty to our planet to help her prevent a faith like Mars or Venus. And every little change is one. Shop with conscience. Try to reduce plastic. Eat less meat and if you do make sure it’s bio. Push your government to act accordingly upon the Paris Agreement. I’m confident that we can do this together. In time. In time everyone will be able to adapt to the changes that have to be made, even though they’re really not that hard. It’s. In. Our. Own. Hands.

The best science books I read in 2018

It’s the end of another year and we all know what that means. Indeed, it’s time for year lists! Here I want to mention the 5 science books I enjoyed reading most this year. If they haven’t been published in 2018 I will mention this as such. I’m not using any particular order, other than the order I have read them in. In case you haven’t read one or more of them, I hope I will inspire you to do so. Except perhaps the first one, if you don’t speak Dutch you have an excuse. But that’s probably the only one.

Verstoppertje Spelen Met Aliens by Jean-Paul Keulen (nov. ’17)

The title means “Playing hide and seek with aliens”. It is a scientific approach on why we haven’t heard from the aliens, and also why we haven’t found the aliens and why this might take a while. Keulen has a very pleasant way of writing and a great sense of humor. The book is a great even without a scientific background. He takes the search for aliens pretty far without getting into the questions whether extraterrestrial intelligence exists. This book is about the scientific possibilities and not about the existential question. A shame it’s not in English. 

The Order Of Time by Carlo Rovelli

Time. What is time? It flows in different speed in different places. Gravity has a big influence on time. And Quantum Theory has a lot to say about time as well. Rovelli has a very enthusiastic way of telling. Be aware that you need to stay focused. This book is written with inspiring people to get into Quantum Theory in mind (worked on me) but he also easily trails off. This is interesting but if you are listening to this book like I did rather than reading, you need to focus on every word he says. Flipping back the pages because you lost the plot temporarily isn’t that easy when listening.

Chasing New Horizons – Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

Warning: if you have accepted that Pluto isn’t a planet (like I had), this book will likely change your mind. Granted, this book is written by Mister Pluto himself but isn’t propaganda on why Pluto is a planet. The whole matter is discussed only briefly. No, this book is all about how the mission was created. The struggle that followed. The dedication of the people involved. All the setbacks. You know that New Horizons will become a success, otherwise you’re reading expecting a disappointment. The book tells a fascinating story of determined people who want nothing more than explore space. Also, Pluto is a planet.

Endurance – Scott Kelly (oct. ’17)

Scott Kelly spent a year in the International Space Station. How did he made it to that special assignment? Turns out that this is an inspirational story of someone who had some odds against him but never gave up. Even when he believed it wouldn’t happen he kept on that path. The story of how he became an astronaut are mixed with his year on space. A story of success and a story of loss. No matter where you are in life yourself and what your goals are, this book will inspire you in one way or another. I listened to this book and it was read by Kelly himself which gave the audio book an warmer feel.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions – Stephen Hawking

I have reviewed this book on my blog recently but it belongs in this list. If you were to read only one science book, make sure it’s this one. Hawking writes brilliantly and with a lot of humor. He possessed the ability to explain the even most complex things in a way that leaves you understanding even a black hole. His brief answers are really explaining the big scientific questions. We still have a long way to go understanding the universe though. It was in the making while he was still alive. By the time it was published it wasn’t just a great science book. It’s a last testimony of the most gifted scientist of our time. He will be missed.

New Horizons reaches Ultima Thule and this is cool

On New Year’s Day the New Horizons spacecraft will flyby Ultima Thule. Previously it brought Pluto closer to us and closer to our hearts. Now it continues to explore the Kuiper Belt. This is cool indeed. 

Ultima Thule, not just any rock

Ultima Thule is not just any rock hidden in the Kuiper Belt. It’s carefully chosen while New Horizons has long flown by Pluto.  Scientists still don’t know whether it’s just one rock, or two closely orbiting each other. 2014 MU64, as the object was formerly known, will be the most primitive world ever observed from up close. And this could tell us a lot about our own world, Earth, as well. 

As we have seen with the Pluto flyby, LORRI is able to take breathtaking images. LORRI stands for Long Range Reconnaissance Imager and is a telescopic camera. New Horizons will flyby closer than it has by Pluto and Ultima Thule is smaller than the planet. The expectations are high. But due to the incredible distant we may have to wait until January 2 or even January 3 for the first images to emerge. Data will take at least 6 hours to reach Earth. And this needs to be sorted and filtered. 

Keep on giving

New Horizons will try to gain as much info as possible in the few seconds it flies by Ultima Thule. It will take more than a year for all the information to be downloaded. The spacecraft will then long be on its way to perhaps yet another target. This is yet to be decided. As long New Horizon has fuel, it runs on plutonium actually, it will be able to explore more. 

It makes New Horizons the gift that keeps on giving. The Pluto flyby alone exceeded all the expectations. The data gathered from that encounter is still leaving scientists amazed every day. It has re-opened the debate whether Pluto is a planet or not. This is not just because people melted when Pluto showed its heart (named the Thombaugh region, named after Pluto’s discoverer). New Horizons showed that Pluto is a very active world and ticks every box it needs in order to be a real planet. Except it just hasn’t cleared its orbit. 

A great start of 2019

Data gathering and photo taking aside, this flyby will be historic. We’ve never seen a world from so close by ever before. No spacecraft has ever done this. The Kuiper Belt can be seen as a collection of rocks that failed to make it into a planet. It could very well tell us more on how our solar system was formed and perhaps even how life made it to our planet. 

2019 will have a great start for all space fans. The Ultima Thule flyby will be the perfect start of an amazing year in space. Not bad for a mission that nearly didn’t even see the light of day. It now shows us the edges of our solar system. And that is indeed cool. 

I’m wishing everyone on the New Horizons team the best of luck during this flyby. And thank you for never giving up on this mission. It’s been all worth it. And the end is yet not in sight! 

There’s a lot to say about ‘Oumuamua, that’s for sure.

The Harvard paper was criticized and perhaps it does show a lot of flaws and it may be weak. The fact that some people dared to even propose the possibility of something made by an extraterrestrial intelligence in the scientific community, has to be applauded.

We are at the point in history where we will find evidence of extraterrestrial life any time soon. It will happen in our lifetime. Even if it’s a tiny microbe or a fossil of that microbe, it will change the way we look at our universe. It will change our place in our universe. It will change everything. Maybe we all are secretly are afraid of the consequences of that. One day we will have to face them. The discovery of ‘Oumuamua however is not that day.

What do we know?

‘Oumuamua has been discovered in October 2017 and has since been the subject of speculations. It has been anything from alien spaceship to comet but fact is that we still haven’t got a clue. We do have a lot to say about it.

What we do know about this object is that it is the first interstellar object traveling through our solar system that we have been able to detect and follow. It’s estimated that several interstellar objects are travelling relatively close to the Earth but they are difficult to spot with current technology. Further we know that it’s cigar shaped, has a reddish, smooth surface and the latest observation estimated it to be between 100 and 400 meters long. It’s tumbling through space rather than smoothly rotating. It has also been accelerating while passing through our solar system.

This all made way for many speculations. At first it was classified as a comet but it lacked a trail of dust while passing our sun which a comet would have. Then it was classified as an asteroid. But that would not explain the acceleration ‘Oumuamua made while passing the sun. So, it was put back in the comet section. With the sun heating up the object it must have created gas after all and boosted its speed. Maybe we just didn’t see the trail.

Gone adrift

Due to the peculiar shape and the rather unusual tumbling, it was also quickly speculated that this object could be an alien spacecraft gone adrift. Also the smooth edges fueled this speculation and when it was also known that the object had accelerated, only added to this theory. It’s hard to say what ‘Oumuamua is really made of. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence but when we don’t even have ordinary evidence to confirm an ordinary claim, the roads to extraterrestrial explanation are wide open. And you can’t blame those who look into a solution of alien origin. 

It’s hard to say what ‘Oumuamua really is. The Spitzer telescope has tried to follow it as long as was possible but in order to really investigate what “the first distant messenger” (what ‘Oumuamua roughly means in Hawaiian) really is. We know it’s interstellar as it travels so fast that it wasn’t caught in our own sun’s orbit. But in order to know more we needed more time. Therefore the object might be a highly debatable visitor forever but it has taught us to be on a look out for more of these visitors and study them more closely. We now know what we can roughly expect.

We don’t know

Fact is, we really don’t know what ‘Oumuamua is. It’s natural to stay within your own field. Astrophysicists will look at their knowledge and search for an explanation in what they know. But it’s not that strange to think out of the box either. The interstellar visitor doesn’t tick all the boxes we know. There are several things weird about it and we can’t say for certain what made the object accelerate. It made even researchers of the prestigious university of Harvard think of the unthinkable. What if this is an alien spaceship? Advanced technology can fail as well. It could have gone adrift. Maybe from a species long extinct for all we know. We don’t know how old the object is.

What I think ‘Oumuamua is? I have no idea. Do I want it to be an alien spacecraft? Of course I do, how exciting would that be? I want to believe. And it ticks a couple of boxes of that theory. But it also ticks some that would suggest that it doesn’t. It shows that we assume we know a lot about our universe but in reality we don’t. That’s what make these discoveries so exciting, it’s something new, unknown.

‘Oumuamua is an alien spaceship. Wait, what?

Is it a comet? Is it an astreroid? Is it… an alien spaceship? Ever since ‘Oumuamua came tumbling into our solar system in late 2017 (and left almost just as quickly), it has been up for debate. The object visited our solar system only briefly so there was little time to investigate. Still, we know some things about the object.  On November 12 (2018), a paper written by Harvard researchers will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and it raises a peculiar question: Could ‘Oumuamua be an alien spacecraft?

Alien invasion

It isn’t the first time this option comes up. Quickly after the news of ‘Oumuamua spread, the internet became to speculate about a possible alien invasion. Was it an alien craft that was damaged in its own solar system and became adrift speeding through our solar system? The object is reddish and has a flattened, elongated shape. It behaved unusual for any object that we know of. For instance, the object seemed to accelerate which is strange behavior for a comet. It’s one of the main things this particular paper is focusing on.

That we see the UFO and alien community getting excited about this object was to be expected. Even outside this field people started to speculate and fantasies. What if this is a spaceship adrift? It would be the finding of, well since forever to be quite frank. And I personally am one of the people who wants to believe. Who wouldn’t want ‘Oumuamua to be an alien spaceship? But to find a paper by researchers from Harvard published in a science publication is remarkable.

Poop

The first science reactions have already been given, some call the paper “poop” on twitter, some say the paper is weak in its claims (aka it lacks solid claims). The paper uses words like probably, maybe and could be a lot. Science is researching all possibilities and ‘Oumuamua being an alien spaceship is indeed a possibility. The paper looks very scientific with its equations indeed. If it is worth a science publications is now up for debate. It doesn’t say it’s an alien spaceship. Only that it could be, maybe and perhaps.

As long as we haven’t ruled out it being one, it could be. It can be anything. And researchers have every right to speculate. It’s part of their job. I would like to see ‘Oumuamua to be an ancient alien spacecraft, that got lost, damaged and desperate finding its way home. A bit like the Voyager in one of the Star Trek series. But it could be a space rock. Whatever it is, it’s from outside our solar system and that in itself should be exciting enough in itself. It is possible to travel across various systems. And that, that is cool too.

Light-sail

It’s still a wild guess as to why the researchers have chosen to publish this paper. You can’t conclude from the paper that they believe the thesis itself. It’s actually the media attention that is putting the focus on the alien spaceship, the actual paper has as a title “Could solar radiation pressure explain ‘Oumuamua’s peculiar acceleration?” This acceleration is baffling indeed. And yes, it could be explained by aliens who would have used the light-sail technique. This technique isn’t unknown to us but is rather taking baby steps at the moment, especially compared to the alien spaceship. If it is one.

It’s too bad we can’t study ‘Oumuamua anymore and perhaps we should have paid more attention, even though we did as much as we could. Unless the owners of the spaceship will contact us, asking whether we had seen their ship passing by, we will never know what it really was. But it has raised questions and triggered new ways of thinking of how our universe works. And we have scientists who dare to take the words Aliens and Extraterrestrial Intelligence into their mouths. And that is worth something as well

Stephen Hawking – Brief Answers to the Big Questions

This collection of thoughts and essays by the late Stephen Hawking looks like it’s been put together after his dead. As to show one last time what kind of genius he has been. Even if that was the case, there is no shame in that because his ideas have been wondrous and highly influencing. He’s arguably the best theoretical scientist of our time. However he was already working on this book, collecting his thoughts and essays about the Big Questions and it has been carefully wrapped up after his passing in March 2018. His unexpected passing however have given this book even more power.

 

Star Trek

What we get is a private look inside his life. We read about his family, his time in university and the struggle with his illness. He also speaks about the doors that have been opened. And although he doesn’t say it, his pure determination has made him stand out in more ways than just his remarkable mind and gave him parts in series such as Star Trek – The Next Generation and The Simpsons. All these aspects are mentioned during his essays which give them a personal touch. Also his sense of humor shines through and I admit to have had a loud chuckle when reading through this work. He isn’t just a physics genius but knows what goes on in the rest of the world and is not afraid to speak his mind about them.

This book, it essentially being a theoretical physics book (in the popular science category), is surprisingly easy to read. You may want to avoid skipping parts or you may lose the plot. This book gave me the ultimate description of a black hole and I will not shy away of using it when I’d ever get in the position where I want to explain what makes a black hole. He is famed for his work on black holes but the book also tackles AI, time travel and aliens. And he explains how he got to his ideas, and how other things just aren’t possible. He doesn’t force you to agree with him but then, it’s hard not to with the explanations he gives. Also, his essays are highly scientific.

Legacy

As these are all collected essays and other small publications, some topics are mentioned more than once and the one anecdote will appear twice as well. This isn’t annoying or anything. The subjects don’t feel disconnected from each other either, even though they are written separate from each other. It’s a whole and that’s quite an accomplishment.

If theoretical physics is your thing, you need to read this book. But even if it’s not and you’re just curious about the world, you will enjoy this book as well. I recommend this for everyone who has the ability to think. I’d nearly go as far by saying that this is essential reading. Stephen Hawking contributed greatly to science and has inspired many in his life. His legacy will live on forever, his contribution to Earth and the Universe and especially to Black Holes are in-erasable. What a mind and we must be grateful he defied all odds and lived for as long as he did. But no one is more grateful for that than Stephen Hawking himself and if anything, it’s that what shines through the entire book. An absolute must-read.

The Prime Directive in the 21st century

The Prime Directive forbids protagonists to interfere with the normal development of any life on any planet or celestial body, especially life that hasn’t been as fully developed like the visiting crew. Even though interfering could mean saving lives, then still one should not as it could disturb the development life on that planet would otherwise have. It’s not an easy rule to follow. But who is to say that a little interference that seems like a good idea at the time, will be a good idea for the future to come. In the universe of Star Trek personnel of Starfleet struggle on a regular basis with this rule as their job is not just to discover but also to protect.

This may be 24th century problems but we already deal with the very same concept today. We’re looking for life outside our planet and the chances are good that we will find it in our very own solar system. Mars is a good candidate. But so are Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan, Jupiter’s moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede and the planet Venus. These are just a few examples. Life could hide in a dense atmosphere, hide in dusty rocks or lure underneath a thick layer of ice. Underneath that ice may be oceans that contain liquid water and is heated by the gravitational pull of their planet and other bigger moons in orbit.

Fascinating! We humans can’t go there ourselves yet, so we don’t run the risk that an astronaut will accidentally step on a life form and ruin the entire future ecosystem of that world. So why don’t we send our orbiters there, land on the surface and drill a hole into the ground and start exploring!? If only things were that easy. Technology however is getting more and more advanced so it will be possible to drill bigger holes in for instance Mars. A few millimeter won’t get us very far, even the most hopeful scientist will agree to that. To get to the oceans of for instance Europa, we will have to dig deeper, meaning we need to send a pretty large drill that may not weigh too much or else the project will get too costly and we need to have a camera attached to that drill so we will actually be able to see what’s out there. And of course a pretty mean transmitter that will be able to send all that data back to us.

The good news is, science is working on that and it all seems possible. Great! There’s no doubt a curious billionaire that will ‘borrow’ the missing money for development and doesn’t SpaceX have some qualified rockets available? So, what are we waiting for? Well, if there really is life out there, we don’t want to contaminate it with earthly germs.

First of all we don’t know what kind of life is out there. To keep to the Star Trek theme, it may be life, but not as we know it. If that’s the case, there is no knowing what will happen to the life form when it comes in contact with an earthly hitchhiking germ. We may cause mutilation and possibly extinction of that form of life. Humans have a horrible trackrecord of destroying and eliminating life on their own planet already, let’s try and not expand that in the universe so we may pretend to have a good name for the aliens.

Even if it’s a life form we recognise, exposing it to our life may still be a bad idea. The environment on say Titan is completely different than that from Earth. How would an earthly life form even react under such conditions? It’s unknown territory, we have no way of testing what will happen. Once we get drilling through the ice, there is no way back. Damage will be done. We will change something. It doesn’t even matter if it’s for the better or the worse.

So, we don’t send any germs to Callisto, got it! But this is a difficult thing to do. Where humans work, there are germs. We can do everything in our power to make sure the orbiter and the landing module and the drill get as sterile as possible on that rocket. Well, that rocket. That rocket can’t be expected to be completely sterile. It will soar through our atmosphere and yes, will only suffice as the transporter out of our atmosphere. The rocket will not reach the surface of Titan. But. Can we exclude that no contamination will be present on the actual lander? As much as we try, and the chance is incredibly small, I mean, really small, we can’t exclude any earthly germs landing on the surface, as any lander before will have high guarantees but not a full 100%. This isn’t a problem on lifeless worlds but it may be if there is. We just don’t know it yet.

Somehow Earth will become part of the United Federation of Planets and Earth will send out explorers into the universe so we will overcome this problem in the future. Whether this will mean humans will influence other life in the solar system and the universe for that matter, has yet to be seen. But who is to say that life on Earth hasn’t been pushed into the direction it has gone without help from outer space? Maybe life is meant to contaminate other worlds in order to thrive. There is only one way to find out. I’m confident that humans will confirm extraterrestrial life of any kind within 20 years from now. And it will change everything.

Why Star Trek Discovery matters. So so much.

This post contains spoilers about Star Trek Discovery (up to episode 5).

I need to talk about episode 5 of Star Trek Discovery. What this has to do with alien life and theories on extraterrestrial beings? More than one might expect. Let me first start with saying (not even explaining) why Star Trek matters. It is about exploring. It’s about science, the search for more knowledge and the cooperation between species. It has always set examples without it being preachy. Star Trek TOS had TVs first ethnic kiss for example. It doesn’t seem important now, but it was then. The crew also featured various colours. At the time, Asians were usually portrait as a serving role, Sulu is a very valued and over all equal member of the crew.

TOS and TNG both gave geeks and nerd alike a role model in Spock and Data respectively. For the longest time, and still today, nerds and geeks are being stereotyped and given the feeling that you just don’t want to a geek or a nerd as they are always picked on (and throw away the glasses of a nerd and behold – the person becomes attractive. Barf!). Both Spock and Data are highly respected and were important role models for geeks and nerd for generations. Star Trek focusses on science rather than war (even in 2017 Discovery, where the Klingon war is the set of the story). It shows what humanity should strive for. An exploring species that treats everyone equal, not just alien species but also within their own species. The only difference between the characters are in rang and even there no one is discriminated. To be blunt, that is why I hugely favour Star Trek over Star Wars.

Granted, the series after The Next Generation were a little lost on me. Maybe it was overkill. I don’t know. Star Trek Discovery got my attention and I vowed myself to give it a chance. There is nothing like the original and it’s hard to beat Picard and Data. So far the characters on Discovery aren’t coming close to how I feel about some of the characters in TOS and TNG. Michael Durnham gets there though as is her roommate Sylvia Tilly. I’m a sucker for underdogs and outcasts, what else can I say? Despite the war with the Klingons and captain Lorca, Discovery does not disappoint.

This has various reasons. For one, science is back. Some may say it’s too much science but the new spore-based propulsion system is to die for. It’s biological technology and in development and so far the Discovery is the only ship it actually works properly. It makes the Discovery unique and captain Lorca greedy and arrogant. In episode 4 Durnham discovers that the Tardigrade captured at a sister ship significantly helps the Discovery warp. This however drains the creature, making it hurt and depressed. This is noted by Durnham and she is determined to help the Tardigrade. This shows compassion for all living beings, something that is common on Star Trek as everyone is vegan by that time in the future. We see how the Tardigrade suffers from the spore-based propulsion system with almost devastating outcome but we also see the beautiful and absolutely touching release of Tardigrade to freedom and happiness. As it turns out, the use of living creatures is essentially not allowed and the Tardigrade is just that. Also, it’s not needed as the scientists discover.

One of the scientists that helps discovering just that is cadet Sylvia Tilly, the ship’s least favourite crew member, Michael Durnham aside. She has a lot of annoying features but is adorable as well, or at least I think so. She persists in becoming friends with her roommate Durnham who is at first incredibly distant, being a prisoner and Vulcan trained after all. It pays off, for Tilly I mean. She is also accountable for the use of the word ‘fuck’ for the very first time in Star Trek. It’s used in the same way we all would use it. And that makes it real. Also, she is the smart outcast and giving so many other smart outcasts watching another role model. In fact, we are all Tilly. This is wonderful.

Fast forward to the homely scene in front of the bath room mirror. This scene is a real cliffhanger as we see Lt Stamets’ reflection in the mirror not doing what Stamets is actually doing, which possibly has been caused by the Tardrigrade’s DNA (this makes sense when you have seen the episode). But before that he is brushing his teeth together with doctor Culber. In an earlier episode they have been seen bickering while Culber was fixing Stamets’ nose, more or less introducing us to these two characters. The teeth brushing scene shows us two people in love, with one having a serious problem. This scene is important because of Stamets using the Tardigrade’s DNA. It’s actually after the scene (which is the end of the episode) which makes you then realise you just witnessed a gay couple without a fuzz made about it. Exactly how it should be and what we hopefully will achieve in the future. As Star Trek is situated in the future, this is done incredibly clever and surely made everyone in the LGBTQ+ community melt and jump for joy. THIS is what we want! And again, this is what it should be, always. It is huge without it being huge, brilliant.

In all, Star Trek Discovery shows us, like all Star Trek series, the way we want us to evolve as a human species and still shows us the lesser traits we have a hard time shaking off (see Captain Lorca). It’s humanity in the stars, more and more technically evolved. And yes, it was humanity that caused the Klingon war. The Klingon’s wanted to start it anyway but waited for someone making a vital mistake and it were the humans, the youngest member of the United Federation of Planets. We see more alien species on board of the Discovery without having explained who they are and where they come from. Simply because it is not relevant in this society. It’s a mirror to the future with one simple message to us all: Make it so.