Interstellar Visitor, or Where is the Space Force when We Need it?

https://www.quantamagazine.org/interstellar-comet-oumuamua-might-not-actually-be-a-comet-20181010/

It may seem a bit eccentric to introduce a world shaking story on an obscure weblog, but Nearctic Traveller believes his discriminating readers deserve to be the first to know. As the attached story from Quanta reports, the first interstellar object detected in our solar system has left in its wake a great mystery.

First described as an asteroid, then as a comet, and finally as a weird hybrid, tumbling through space, it came from parts unknown and departed thence before earth based astronomers could get a proper fix. Given its unprecedented characteristics, an effort was made to monitor any radio signals emitted from the object, but none were detected.

As it happens, during the near approach to earth by the “object,” I was contacted by a colleague, a quantum physicist, at our local university who wanted my help. It turned out that during the course of an experiment on quantum entanglement, she had received a strange message, in plain text English, via her apparatus’s computer output. It specifically requested to be connected to an ecologist, so naturally, she thought of me. I was soon receiving the communication via my old Mac, and sitting at my desk, I carried on the following conversation with what claimed to be the interstellar exploration ship, @3*776=$£9{¥}457, which we had begun calling Oumuamua, a word in the language of Hawaiʻi, meaning scout, which they found singularly appropriate. What follows is a transcript of the conversation.

NT: May I ask why you have chosen to communicate with just one and, candidly, one entirely uninfluential earthling?

O: We were prepared to announce ourselves, but for reasons we will explain as we go along, have decided to postpone our visit. We gleaned enough from your communications being beamed promiscuously into space, to see that our expedition is premature. Therefore we have maintained our concealment, which was facilitated by our decision not to thaw the bulk of the expedition. That was the ice, which some of your astronomers will have noted, that failed to form a tail as we rounded your sun, because we kept it frozen. Of course we ourselves send no signals by radio, preferring the secure means of quantum entanglement.

NT: I heard that there was a mysterious force that seemed to be influencing your orbit.

O: that would be our cosmic string drive, which enables us to journey among all the 23 dimensions of space. You physicists are still muddling through the theory, but the simple way to explain is that we can wind up many strings, rather like the rubber band powered airplane models you play with, and as they unwind, sail through space to any dimension and system we wish to visit. The tumbling you noted is caused by the lumpiness of the twisted strings.

NT: Did you find anything distinctive in our broadcasts?

O: No, though some of the crew enjoy watching reruns of Star Trek during down time. Its heart is in the right place, but the conception of what lies beyond your world is hilarious.

NT: Well, welcome to the solar system. Have you been here before?

O: Yes, on several occasions. We conducted a preliminary reconnaissance about a billion of your earth years ago [hereafter, EYA] to verify what our instruments indicated, that a biosphere was present on your planet. We checked back some time around one hundred million EYA and found only large, rather disagreeable lizards, and thinking that it might speed things along, sent a large asteroid your way. Following that event, we returned some one million EYA, to find things perking along nicely, with bipedal, dexterous, bionts, who showed signs of making tools and engaging in symbolic communication. Having allowed what we believed was sufficient time for this organism to develop, we returned just over two hundred EYA. It was a most interesting occasion, as we could see that people, as we designate you and your kind, had achieved a number of milestones in government, science, technology, etc. although your ethical and cultural development was still pitiable. Not there there was any lack of enlightened individuals, simply that as a collective you were still as nasty and brutish for the most part as on our previous visit.

NT: So, why did you return now?

O: We are incurable optimists and thinking that you would soon be in a position to meet all your material needs, we believed that this would lead you to a more just and equitable society. Then you might be ready to deal with the fact that you are by no means alone in the cosmos.

NT: And what, if anything, have you concluded?

O: We are sorry to report that far from making you better, the possibility of freeing yourselves from want has led to insatiable desire for material means to a goal you seem unable to define. Moreover, you have become more violent, and turn your ingenuity towards developing both weapons of mass destruction and more effective devices for personal aggression. I could go on, but as an educated person, you are surely well aware of what we learned.

NT: Alas, you are correct, but isn’t this simply the heritage of our evolutionary past?

O: Indeed, but we had hoped that in learning of that past, you would also become aware of the need to transcend it. Rather than doing this, most of you refuse to believe even the obvious scientific truth of your evolution and instead, cling to tribal myths. These unfortunate conclusions are in line with several reports we received of you from beings living on different worlds, in different dimensions. One was based on an encounter between inter dimensional bionts and a Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, we believe, from your planet, just before our last visit. The leader of one of these groups, who talked to this Gulliver about his home country, was forced to “…conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” Another contact was about 85-90 EYA, when a certain biont, of rather unusual, but not unprecedented qualities, named Archie, had radio communication with the outpost of another interstellar organization, based on Mars at the time. They provided us with the following transcript of part of the conversation:

tell us all about

your planet said mars

well i said it is

round like an orange

or a ball

and it is all cluttered

up with automobiles

and politicians

it doesn t know where it is

going nor why

but it is in a hurry

it is in charge of a

two legged animal called

man who is genuinely

puzzled as to whether

his grandfather was a god

or a monkey

i should think said mars

that what he is himself

would make more difference

than what his grandfather was

not to this animal i replied

he is the great alibi ike of

the cosmos when he raises hell

just because he feels like raising hell

just because he feels like

raising hell

he wants somebody to blame it on

can t anything be done about him

said mars

i am doing the best i can

i answered

but after all i am only one

and my influence is limited

NT: So how does you disappointment affect us? Do you plan to destroy the human race?

O: I hope you see that you are projecting your own subconscious barbarity onto us. We are not a violent race of bionts, as you seem to so often fantasize about coming to wipe you out.

NT: Good to know. What is it you want from me?

O: We have concluded that your case may be hopeless, so we’d like to know what you, as an ecologist can tell us about your planet’s current condition. Since we aren’t ready to make a full, on the ground reconnaissance now, we feel it would be useful to have a somewhat reasonable member of your species fill us in on the present state of your biosphere. That way, when we return shortly, after your inevitable demise, we can reconstruct the biosphere as it existed prior to your final destructive acts. We know from experience that enough genetic material will survive for our engineers to rebuild and make a nice home for a deserving species whose own planet is facing some catastrophe.

NT: Why not simply suck up all our data from the internet?

O: Surely you jest. Not even a hyper intelligent race of interstellar bionics, like ourselves, can find the truth in all that rubbish.

NT: Well, I admit it would be a problem, but I feel a scruple about helping, since I think we prefer to try to save ourselves and our biosphere. I understand you don’t like to waste a good planet, but neither do we. Besides, the new tenants, if they do move in, might prefer to do their own decorating.

O: That is a good observation. We will leave it up to them. We wish you success, of course, and we are really sorry we can’t share any of our technology, which might be of real assistance. among other things we have infinite, non-polluting energy supplies in a whole range of sizes that can be manufactured for about one of your dollars each. But you see of course that it would invariably fall into the wrong hands. Let your people know this was our last visit, if you think you can endure the abuse you’ll be subjected to. @3*776=$£9{¥}457, signing off for good.

There you have a true and complete account of the communication I received. My colleague, who prefers to remain anonymous, vouches for the truth of this report in a document in my possession, which I will show to the Secretary General of the United Nations on request. Further verification of previous contacts can be found in the following sources:

Marquis. Don. Archie hears from Mars in the lives and times of archie and mehitabel New Edition. Doubleday and Co. 1950.

Simak, Cliffiord. The dusty zebra in The Worlds of Clifford Simak, Simon and Schuster, 1960. Also in The Dusty Zebra, Kindle edition, Open Road Media Sci-Fi and Fantasy, 2017. [An account of an attempt in the 1950s by another interstellar group to establish commercial relations. This proved disastrously premature.]

Swift, J. A voyage to Brobdingnag in Gulliver’s Travels (numerous editions)

 

Palearctic excursion to the Iron Age

Robb, Graham. 2014. The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts. W. W. Norton & Company. 416 pp.

Graham Robb first conceived of the ancient Celtic map of the world and had an inkling of the mysterious Mediolanum in a cottage on the upper Thames. The first line on that map was the ancient Via Heraklea from Sagres at the southwest tip of Spain to the Matrona Pass in the Alps a thousand miles away. This line is that of the angle of the midsummer sunrises and midwinter sunset of two millennia ago. What he discovered, as it gradually unfolded, turned out to be a grid of places, extending over that whole region and beyond, even to the distant corners of the British Isles, which was the world of the Celts, the diverse cultural and linguistic grouping of peoples that dominated the region before the Roman conquest. Robb depicts them as a scientifically and mathematically advanced society, who, without GPS or Google, nevertheless had a network of map locations, sacred and military, connected by roads and tracks, or simply by the bearings of sunrise and sunset, which among other things, would have facilitated long distance travel. Messages could be relayed by shouts from carefully chosen points or by signal fires, much faster than horses could travel, as noted by Caesar in his Gallic Wars.

Celtic culture lasted from possibly the late Bronze Age until the extinction of the Druids around 600AD. An Iron Age society that was literate, to judge by surviving writing tools and inscriptions, but who left few written records of their religion, culture, etc. Much of what we can learn suggests strong influence from the astronomy and geography of the Greeks. Most of what we know is second hand from the Greeks and Romans, with some possible corroboration from ruins, coins and other artifacts.

Robb is a geographer/historian, author of books on Paris and provincial France. Place names are key evidence for his inquiry into Celtic prehistory. Often the places themselves are undistinguished hillocks, valleys, low ridge tops, few producing any significant signs of habitation or artifacts. What they represent are not forts or settlements, which follow the dictates of the natural environment, but nodes in a cartographic net laid over the land, following the dictates of the heavens, particularly the polestar and the sun. He shows how the Greeks’ knowledge of geography was carried over by the Celts, tied into the great sacred centers of Hellas, like Delphi. This seems to have worked well even in the dense and nearly trackless forests that covered much of the region (now reduced to small, heavily managed remnants) and that contained many of the sacred places of the Celtic culture.

Of the Druids, he says their twenty year course of study taught the size and shape of the earth and the universe, the motion of the heavens and stars and the will of the gods. Using Pythagorean geometry, they could map the lines of the meridian, equinoxes and solstices onto their lands, basing the system on the great center at Mediolanum Bituriges (Chateaumelliant) and the Gallic capital at Alesia, the place they made their last stand against Julius Caesar. Robb ties the Druids’ cosmology and geography to the politics and military strategy followed by the Gauls, which eventually proved to be their weakness in the face of the ruthlessly pragmatic Romans.

Rome ended up pursuing the remnants of the Druids to the farthest ends of the British Isles, and the firm establishment of Christianity seems to have snuffed out this remarkable culture, at least its Greek-influenced scientific understanding of the cosmos. Robb ends with an exploration of the traces that remain in the Roman and “Royal” roads and ancient sites in England, Scotland and Ireland. He ties this to historical events, like the revolt of Queen Boudica. He offers his own anecdotes of searching for the traces of the lost world among the shopping centers, parking lots and housing developments of modern England. Human history has left deep marks on the surface of the Earth, not all of which are easily seen and touched, but which are accessible to those who know geometry and astronomy.

This book is full of ancient and modern geographic detail and full of historical speculations as well as documented accounts of wars in Gaul and Britain and journeys undertaken by intrepid Celtic tribes to distant parts of the world. There is a strong sense of might have been, had the conquering Romans not been so efficient at crushing the resistance they encountered from these astronomer-warrior-priests.