|AFD 1991||AFD 1992||HH&FTT 1992||AFD 1993|
|AFD 1994||AFD 1995||AFD 1996||AFD 1997|
|AFD 1998||Angus Bay Bar "Blood Light"||AFD 1999||AFD 2000|
|AFD 2001||AFD 2002||AFD 2003||AFD 2004|
|AFD 2005||AFD 2006||AFD 2007||AFD 2008|
|AFD 2010||AFD 2010|
HH&FTT (Happy Halloween & Frontier Tall Tales)
Many of us believe that it is likely that “other intelligent species” have come this way before. Perhaps as explorers, maybe as pioneers, or in search of lucrative trade. Maybe even as imperialists. Earth has been around for some 4.6 billion years having formed more than eight billion years after the first stars. Plenty of time for other, earlier civilizations to have risen and perished in that time. Astronomers believe that earlier stars and their planetary systems were less rich in the elements that form rocky worlds like ours. Yet that some may have not enjoyed life long before ourselves seems inconceivable.
It Came From The Bowels of The Moon
A Science-Speculation Essay by Peter Kokh
[a fun piece written for a Milwaukee Horror Con “It Came from Lake Michigan” the weekend before Halloween]
Let’s suppose for sake of argument, that we have been visited a hundred times since Earth was formed. Averaged out, that’s one visit every 46 million years. And there is a 50-50 chance we have been visited as recently as 23 million years ago, and a 1 in 100 chance that someone came calling as late as 460,000 years ago.
Hmmm!? Now there is a problem with averaging things out that way. For one thing, the pace of visits should have started much more leisurely as “way back then” there were likely fewer intelligent civilizations than we imagine that there must be today. Then the pace gradually picked up. So the interval between visits may have decreased on a logarithmic scale. But who knows? Maybe we got lucky enough to have had a visit in the past ten thousand or so years since the ice age and the birth of human civilization as we know it. But also possibly, the Sun and Earth have been in the “boondocks,” off the logical routes of interstellar exploration and expansion. All we can do is wonder “for the sake of argument.”
Perhaps that 100 times in the lifetime of Planet Earth is too pessimistic. Perhaps it is too optimistic. One thing is sure. Time, and by that we mean the amount of time before the present, is as vast as space. The two go hand in hand. The chances of finding a contemporary civilization, one both nearby in space and nearby in time, are much slimmer than that of identifying a civilization whose Sun was once a neighbor of ours but which has either drifted far away, or that civilization has long succumbed to the ravages of time; much slimmer too than finding a contemporary civilization, contemporary in that we now detect its signals, though it is so far away that it too may have passed into oblivion since the message was sent.
But, again, for the sake of argument, let’s say that our solar system has indeed been visited, explored, inspected, mapped, catalogued, etc. Let’s say that this has happened more than once. Still the odds are over-whelming that our last visit might have occurred before the rise of modern man, cultural man, technologically inventive and scientifically curious man. This “last visit” could have occurred in the past 5 million years, at a time when the evidence of simian and primates was clear and the evidence that Earth would soon bring forth its own dominant species, a species which like there own, could alone help their homeworld’s “Life” sprout elsewhere throughout their system and beyond. What message could have been left?
But just as plausibly, our last visitors may have come calling much earlier: in the age of the dinosaurs, or even earlier when multicellular life was first forming in the oceans and seas. But it might have been clear to the visitors even then that this young Earthlife had the potential to go all the way -- in time. What message for a far far future Earth-dominant species could the visitors have left, should they so have felt inclined?
That’s one question. Another is where could they possibly have left a message or a calling card, even a “Cheshire Smile” for us to know that someone from somewhere and somewhen had come calling? Where could they have left it where it would not have been destroyed by the ravages of Earth’s active geology and weather? Nowhere on Earth!
When Apollo 15 moonwalkers, David Scott and James Irwin, landed along side a portion of the meandering lunar valley known as Hadley Rille, they looked for clues to its origin. Running water could not have carved the valley. It was too winding to be a fault line. Soon, lunar geologists, or “selenologists,” came to a unanimous conclusion. The rilles all appeared as features of various maria, frozen lava plains. The evidence was clear that the lava sheets have must have had little viscosity, or they would not have spread hundreds of miles. On Earth we find these kind of lava plains also, for example in the Pacific Northwest. How the lava sheets spread is by rivers of lava. The top exposed to the cold of atmosphere, or on the Moon, the greater cold of space, soon congeals, then the sides. When the flooding has stopped, a lava tube is left. Some of these, too near the surface, collapse and become winding ditches. But whoa! On Earth lavatubes are typically 10-30 yards across and just about as high. If Hadley Rille was a collapsed lavatube, that tube must have been gargantuan, hundreds of yards across or more. Scientists soon realized that this could and would happen in the Moon’s lighter gravity, just one sixth of our own.
Next question. Are all the original lavatubes collapsed? No! We see clear proof that at least some segments are intact, and probably whole tubes. Near the center of the Nearside lies Hyginus Rille, wandering for hundreds of miles. But here and there are interruptions, places where the rille “stops” and then, miles ahead, “starts” again. Those interruptions look like land bridges over the rille. Indeed, they are uncollapsed tube sections.
Now all the maria must have formed that way, but we do not see rilles everywhere. There must be many places where the original tubes are still intact with no surface entrances. Indeed, some maria formed layer upon layer. It is possible that each layer has intact lavatubes, gargantuan voids tens of miles long -- or longer. The Moon has bowels!
Someday, these “hidden valleys of the Moon” may harbor industrial parks, farms, even human settlements. What else? Well consider that they all were formed 2.5 and 3.8 billion years ago. They have been intact for an inconceivably long time. What a place to put the Grand Archives of All Mankind, even of all Earth Life! There, these records and artifacts would rest without decay in the cold black vacuum of these voids, until the Moon ceased to be. And there you have your answer. Our visitors could have left us an incomprehensible gift, safe until we became mature enough to find them.
Okay, we answered the 2nd question first: Where could visitors have left a message or record for us to find that would have been able to survive the ravages of time: geology and weather? In an uncollapsed lunar lavatube. Those that were intact would have been intact for billions of years already and should be for billions of years to come! Talk about security!
Now back to the first question: What would they have wanted to leave behind for us, whoever and what-ever we turned out to be? Now, of course, many of us Star trek fans know the answer. The Prime Directive would not only have mandated that we not find what they left behind until we were advanced enough to appreciate it, but that they not leave behind anything which would short-cut our own scientific and technological evolution but also anything which might play havoc with our culture or cultures. Yes there are skeptics and cynics, but it may well be that the only civilizations that survive to become spacefaring will have come to appreciate the hard way, as we have, that the Prime Directive is not something Gene Rodenberry thought up, but which intelligent species everywhere must come to appreciate. The wreckage of primitive cultures in our own past is evidence enough.
Suppose we believers in the Prime Directive are on to something? I propose that this would boil down to two simple guidelines: (1) tell the natives nothing about ourselves; (2) tell them instead about the past of their world; preserve for them records of that past that other-wise would be sure to be erased by plate tectonics and weather. In other words, all we, as the visiting species, leave behind of ourselves, is a “Cheshire Smile.” That is how I propose the visitors, any one advanced enough to have wandered by, will look upon the opportunity. Here it is there message to us in their own thoughts.
“You will know that we have been here, that we foresaw the probability of the rise of a dominant species that could carry its planet’s life beyond its spatial shores, and that we cared to give you a gift of knowledge about the state in which we found your planet when we passed by: the shape and position of its continents; mountains, and rivers, and lakes, and ocean trenches; the volcanic hot spots and rifts and plate boundaries; the weather and climate; detailed depictions and models of all the life forms, plant and animal and even microbial, that we inspected. These are things you could never discover, no matter how valiantly you tried to reconstruct your planet and biosphere’s past from the partial and haphazardly scattered clues that time has left behind.
“More, we can leave you an atlas of your heavens as they were then. They were full of stars and star clusters and nebulae that may now have drifted halfway around the galaxy. We can show you your neighboring galaxies to compare with the distribution you find today.
“But no, we won’t tell you where else we found life in our explorations. No, we won’t describe ourselves, our physiologies, our cultures, religions, or histories. But what can be more than to know just simply that we were here, looked forward to your emergence, and cared enough to reveal some of your very own past?”
So there you have it. The greatest find of all time, and maybe for all time to come, will have come from the Bowels of the Moon! - PK =Peter Kokh firstname.lastname@example.org
Angus Bay Bar "Blood Lite"
A moon buggy jockey walks into the bar wearing his jump suit open at the collar and is met by the bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to get in. So the guy goes out to his rover and looks around in vain for a tie of some kind. No luck. Finally, in desperation - he’s thirsty! - his eyes light on a pair of jumper cables. With Lunan resourcefulness, he wraps them around his neck, ties a halfway decent knot, and let’s the ends dangle, one fashionably lower than the other. Hopeful, he goes back into the bar and smiles at the bouncer who looks at him hard a few minutes. “Aw, all right. .. Just don’t start anything!”
A skeleton from the Spaceship Graveyard walks into the bar and says, “I’d like a Zombie and a mop.”
An Alien from Arcturus walks into the bar and orders a Scotch and Soda. The bartender serves it up with a smile and says, “That’ll be ten bucks. You know, we don’t get many like you around here!” The Archer nods, frowning, “I guess not, at these prices!”
The visitor from a distant neutron star waddled into the bar and chirped, “we shall want a warm stale beer.” So the bartender poured a glass of draft and zapped it for a minute in the microwave, before setting it before the strange neuter creature, asking if it suited its needs. “This is just fine!” the neutron being said, taking a quaff. “How much?” it asked. “Hey, no charge!” the bartender replied.
A clone of René Descartes walked into the bar and the bartender asks “How about a bottle of our finest imported French wine for the Monsieur?”
“I think not!” said Descartes. And poof! he vanishes.
A young vampire couple comes into the bar. “I’ll have a pint of blood” said he. “And I’ll have a pint of plasma,” said she. “Okay!” said the bartender, “coming up, ... one blood, ... and one blood light.”
Based on bar humor that came to us from Carl L. Harstad via email from Ben Huset and thereupon rewritten for MMM by our very own Prospector Pete.