Looking Back: Finding a Place in the Sky

One hundred years ago today, it was announced that the earth would be depleted of nutrients within the next 60 years. The continual deforestation, and burning of the ozone layer would strip the earth of all the necessary oxygen, we as humans are so dependent on. And thus a search began for the best possible way to either stop the destruction of the earth, or replace it.

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Research did not being in earnest until the bees died. As we know now, bees are crucial for the production of food. The depletion of nutrients quickly became the driving force behind the search for a solution, and the general public were clamoring for a quick and easy solution. Cue astrobiologists, Kent McGee and Jen Ward. They claimed to have found a planet in the habitable zone of the nearby star system, Alpha Centauri. The planet, named after Earth because of its original similarities, seemed to be the best solution for our dying planet.

McGee and Ward’s search for habitable planets had been going on for a while, and luckily they had results in the nick of time. The planet, found in orbit around Alpha Centauri B, was assumed non-existent because its orbit was constantly shadowed by the other stars in the system. What the planet was previously unable to be viewed, new technology allowed McGee and Ward to not only locate the planet, but determine its atmospheric makeup. The most surprising factor about the planet was just how closely it resembled the Earths. Levels of Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen were almost identical with the only discrepancy being that there was a substantial amount of Argon also present in the atmosphere.

After the initial discovery of the planet, a probe was sent to its surface to judge the terrestrial features of it. The probe sent back images of wide open land with rock formations as well as large bodies of fresh water. Soil samples also showed the presence of Argon consuming microbes, though no other signs of life were detected.

Scientists quickly decided that this new planet, dubbed Earth 2.0 to be the best solution to the increasingly detrimental health of the earth, but the question still remained about how to get there. Enter, John Fletcher. During the excitement surrounding the discovery of Earth 2.0, he had been developing a new type of fuel that would allow space craft to travel close to the speed of light. The energy source Fletcher used was Dark Matter. Previous attempts to utilize the same method were unsuccessful, yet Fletcher designed a new conductor and containment unit called a reenergizer. Somehow he made it all work without the explosions that prevailed with others attempts to harness such an unpredictable source of energy. Once Fletcher’s designs and theories regarding Dark Matter were proven reliable, his solution was announced to the world. Fletcher, once a relatively unknown member of the scientific community quickly found himself to be a house hold name.

These seemingly independent ideas sparked great excitement. Suddenly with Fletchers new fuel source, travel to different planets did not seem so unattainable and McGee and Ward had the answer to how they reach their new planet.

NASA and other space programs around the world, decided that combining the two new ideas would be the best way to solve the problem of running out of natural resources. So engineers began building a serviceable model rocket that had the ability to use the new dark energy source as well as survive the five year journey to Earth 2.0. The UN also decided to combine the forces behind each country in order to produce the best possible results with the new rocket. So, the world united to build the intricate new rocket.

While the rocket was being built, astrobiologists from around the world continued to study the new planet. The studies showed that while Earth 2.0 could sustain life, Humans would have to take it there in the first place. This lead the rocket scientists to attempt to determine how to safely transport everything a new planet could possibly need in terms of a food source, while still keeping the rocket light enough to travel uninterrupted for five years.

Subsequently, the rocket was designed to house four astronauts comfortably along with supplies for the journey both there and back. It was a monumental project and true engineering feat. It took over three hundred workers to ensure that every available inch of space was used efficiently and that the DM capacitor would function properly for both the journey to Earth 2.0 and back. Because the new rocket fuel could be recycled through the reenergizer. Because there was no need for extra storage for continual energy, the engineers were allowed to have more space for provisions, thus ensuring adequate preparation for all astronauts on the long journey away from home.

The construction took time and after eight years with the astronauts for the mission carefully chosen, and after all the preparations were ready, were sent off to see for themselves if Earth 2.0 was truly capable of supporting human life. When they finally reached the planet, they were pleasantly surprised to find that it met their expectations. Not only was the air almost exactly similar to Earth’s atmosphere, the land was fertile when they attempted to grow plants on the surface. However, they also quickly found out that the sun never really set. Because of Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B are located closely together, darkness only registered for about an hour. Despite that and other differences, the astronauts agreed that Earth 2.0 would make a lovely home with a bit of effort.

When the astronauts completed all the tests they could about the potential habitability of the planet, which ended up taking about one and a half earth years, they returned to their rocket to head home with plenty of information to share with Earth about their future home.

When they arrived, almost twelve years later and pronounced the planet habitable, the world let up a cheer. With only forty years left before the total depletion of Earth’s nutrients, Scientists quickly continued their work in order to find the most efficient way to relocate the people of earth with as little trouble as possible. A select few were chosen to start the first civilization on Earth 2.0 and were sent with seeds and enough supplies for at least four years until more shipments of supplies and people could be sent to the planet. The rocket also contained materials in order to build houses as well as scientific instruments in order to more fully understand all the intricacies of their newfound home. The original and all subsequent studies of the planet by the first men on the planet showed promising reports of excellent atmospheric conditions and nutrient rich land.

That belief was soon proven true and reports from the first colonizers stated that the original plants that the astronauts plated were growing spectacularly well. And thus, with continued success reported back from those on Earth 2.0 and the ever increasing fast paced advancement in physics and other sciences, the inhabitants of Earth were ready to begin their trek into the cosmos.

Bringing with them all that they could possibly need to start again on their new home, Earth 2.0 began to thrive. All of the advancements made during the frantic search for a new home also served to be quite useful when starting from scratch on a new planet. Dark Energy reenergizers, as well as devices that can create anything you tell them to, helped create structures and power for Earth 2.0’s new residents.

So now, on this historic day thirty years after the first colony was established on Earth 2.0 we see the fruits of our last one hundred years of labor. There is now a successful and flourishing community on Earth 2.0. There is a thriving business market as well as a continued eagerness to expand our knowledge of the universe that is now at our finger tips. Now that we are settled in our new home, many wish to see what else lies in our reach.

Also, scientists have discovered that with the nutrients of Earth no longer being taken for granted, the planet is beginning to flourish once again. Who knows, we may be able to go back to the place that started our progression into space in the first place.

Looking back, the road to living on a new planet was not easy. It took a lot of people a lot of hard work in order to keep all the citizens alive and well. Though hopefully we know better than to deplete another planet’s nutrients, scientists are already searching for another planet that could suit our needs if we ever have need of it. Surely, there are not only two habitable planets in the entire galaxy. Perhaps, if we are lucky, we may just find a planet with its own life forms to increase our undoubtedly limited knowledge of life outside of humans. One way or another, the human race is undoubtedly on it’s way to the next big adventure.

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Now Lonely World: How the Absence of Extraterrestrial Life Will Impact Earth, Humanity and Science

So I figured that writing about the discovery of extraterrestrial life would be the more interesting option. Up for a bit of a challenge, I decided to go with the most boring scenario instead- no life discovered, no singularity at 2060, nothing, and attempt to make that idea as interesting of a paper as possible.

As with the other two papers, this is still a first/second draft, comments are welcome.

Now Lonely World

How the Absence of Extraterrestrial Life Will Impact Earth, Humanity and Science

By Jonathan Snowstorm

“Is there life out there?” For centuries upon centuries, the curiosity of humanity has pondered this question. For 75 years, a tiny fraction of that, we have searched the cosmos. At last, we have our answer. In short, no. Sadly, no. With modern computing power, we have the ability to scour the entire galaxy for the telltale signs of life, of any form. Still, after running the same scans over and over, we still find nothing.

Dr. Charles L. Wile was part of this search for many, many years, and he sat down with us here at SpaceTime for a question-and-answer session about this somewhat disappointing result.

JONATHAN: Dr. Wile, do you think that the last 75 years have been a waste of time and money?

DR. WILE: Oh, heavens no! No, no, no. Just because we haven’t found what we were looking for, doesn’t mean we haven’t found many other wonderful things. What I mean is that all this data we’ve collected and catalogued- it’s far from useless. Even if it were useless, this is what science is all about. We wanted an answer to that age-old question, and we got one. It’s not what we were expecting, to be sure, but it’s an answer nonetheless.

JONATHAN: But it’s still time to give up?

DR. WILE: Well, there are a few possibilities here. Perhaps there was life on other planets, but it died out before we could observe its effects. Perhaps we are the first life in our galaxy, and the rest haven’t even formed yet- though that is quickly waning in probability. Perhaps we have been looking for all the wrong signs, though this is also unlikely.

Finally, perhaps we are the only life that has been, or ever will be in this galaxy. All we know for sure is that, right now, we are it. Maybe there is only one instance of life per galaxy. Still, with hundreds of billions of galaxies, that’s a lot of life in the universe. Unfortunately, we can never feasibly contact it, so there’s no way to be sure.

starcluster

“Still, with hundreds of billions of galaxies, that’s a lot of life in the universe.”

I guess what I’m saying is that yes, it’s time to give up the search. There will always be conspiracy theorists, and I doubt that the SETI radio stations are shutting down anytime soon. Keeping up our signals just in case, you know?

JONATHAN: Is the lack of extraterrestrial life a problem for you? Does it bother you?

DR. WILE: No, for the reasons I already gave. See, we have this concept called the Copernican Principle. As Copernicus revealed that our planet is not the center of the solar system, so we apply this non-centric view to the rest of our existence in the cosmos. Somewhat of a forced mediocrity, if you will. We may be unique, but not special, that sort of thing. Each possibility I previously outlined still fits within the Copernican Principle.

JONATHAN: What was this journey like, as you searched for life elsewhere in the universe? What was easy? Difficult? Rewarding? Disappointing?

DR. WILE: Do I even have to mention the Oil Wars? You know very well that science as we know it came to a screeching halt starting in April 2034. Everything was shut down, and I mean everything. All our funding was cut. Those who couldn’t take the loss signed up to work with the rest of the U.S. engineers on war tech. Thank goodness the conflicts didn’t last too long, and hey! We got clean nuclear fusion out of it!

I’m sorry, I shouldn’t joke about that. As good as it is that the discovery of portable fusion essentially solved the Oil Wars, I know we’re all still recovering- the Middle East as well as the central United States and most of Europe. Too many lives were lost in the bombings, let alone all the patches of usable land now barren. Food is still a struggle as we’re trying to match agricultural techniques with our new power sources.

Anyway. With the end of the Oil Wars, the economy was booming. As much as I hate to admit it, the wars were “good for business.” We booted the search back up, having only lost about six months. And the next few years were probably the most disappointing, despite our optimism. There were false alarms left and right. It got so bad that we would get false positives every two weeks or so. Indications of a Dyson Sphere? Nope. Continuous methane emissions? Just volcanic activity that subsequently stopped. Oxygen buildup? Anomaly involving a carbon dioxide-enriched atmosphere and certain-energy UV light from that planet’s star. That was certainly the most disappointing.

As for rewarding? Well, honestly, just doing science is pretty rewarding for me. The research, the math, the physics, the people. That’s why I do it. Contributing to the collective understanding of mankind is an enriching profession, and that’s really all I can say about it.

JONATHAN: How has new technology affected the search, exactly?

DR WILE: One word- androids. I know many of us were pretty bummed when 2060 rolled around and the long-awaited ‘singularity’ passed us by as an impossible phenomenon. No immortality for us humans. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, and there’s plenty of philosophical debate on that subject. So even though we can’t store and run human consciousness completely by machine, through all our brain mapping, programming and simulating we can get pretty dang close. All the androids who work for us today have incredible artificial intelligence based on that research. No sentience, though. No robot revolution, kill all humans, that sort of thing. Ha ha. Thank goodness for Asimov, right?

But seriously, androids were the crew on the second Europa mission. Androids are most of the workers on the mars colony. Androids are the ones assembling Venus’ Umbrella. Androids sorted through a ton of the atmospheric data we collected while searching for extraterrestrial life. They have singlehandedly increased net efficiency in science by exponential leaps and bounds.

JONATHAN: What other implications does this conclusion of the search have for science as a whole?

DR. WILE: In my opinion, not much will change, other than our understanding of the universe. There is obviously a large shift going on right now as astrobiologists and other related sciences change jobs into different forms of research and development. There’s always more to do, just no more searching for extraterrestrial life. For example, the Venus’ Umbrella project I mentioned earlier, the modest beginnings of terraforming our neighbor. There are projects in the works to Triton, the third Europa mission, and so much more. That’s just the way we humans are, we just keep going, and going, and going.

RS37576_venus-balloon-colony

                                Command Station 1, Venus’ Umbrella Project

There will always be more problems that we have to solve, and it’s obvious that humanity has always teetered on the edge of existence and utter destruction. But hey, we’ve made it this far, and we’ve solved some pretty tough problems along the way. I think we have a shot at sticking around for a while longer.

JONATHAN: Do you have any other final remarks, Dr. Wile?

DR. WILE: I just hope people can take as much comfort as I have in the result of our 75 years of searching. I’ll be honest; it took me a while to come to terms with it all, to be at peace with this newfound loneliness. I have astrobiologist friends who are taking the news very hard. To some of them this does, in fact, represent a wasted career. The majority of the world, though, it seems, is carrying on as normal, with hardly a nod to this discovery 75 years in the making. Which makes me feel half unappreciated, and half curious. What if we had found extraterrestrial life? Would it really have made that much of an impact? I can see why virtually anyone would be eminently curious about intelligent civilizations, but what about lesser life? Non-intelligent life? Microbial life? How would that impact humanity? Would we discover the ultimate cure for cancer? Another new energy source? Would it accidentally infest and corrupt the entire earth? If not, would most people even care?

In the end, it is truly impossible to say. And what good do what-ifs do, after all? Extraterrestrial life is firmly in the realm of science fiction now, and thus it’s time we focus fully on ourselves. With that in mind, I know that the human race is on the cusp of doing something great.

First Contact & the One-Hundred Years Since Then

First Contact & the One-Hundred Years Since Then

July 18, 2042: the day the Earth was silent. That day, at approximately 9:23 PM, we heard the first alien signal and every television, every radio station, every person with a cell phone waited in silence to learn the latest updates. Now this week, on Wednesday July 18, 2142, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first contact made, and all of us here on earth will be remembering the years leading up to this point.

Before Contact

Before contact was ever made, the idea of life in outer space, for many people, was more of a science-fiction idea than a real possibility. Others believed they were being abducted by aliens on a regular basis, and still other people believed there was no possibility of life elsewhere, and especially not intelligent life. Thousands of reports were made of spotting of an alien spacecraft, or that the Government was hiding aliens, or hiding their existence.

A fairly common depiction of an alien and their spacecraft, (commonly called an UFO, or Unidentified Flying Object, or a Flying Saucer) looked like this:

Flying Saucer

An alien spacecraft abducting a bull cow.

Alien drawing

An illustration of an alien species.

Many people during this time period had hope that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was launched in 2018 by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), would find life elsewhere in our galaxy. It had capabilities to detect planets around stars as wells as signatures from their atmospheres that would indicate industrial processes, thus indicating intelligent life. However, due to a depression that had begun in 2019, the United States was unable to continue funding NASA. Instead of letting this amazing opportunity to study space go to waste, ESA (European Space Agency), and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) signed an agreement that they would jointly share the costs of maintaining the JWST, and would jointly share the discoveries made by it. (It wasn’t until 2037 that the International Space Agency was formed, combining all of these agencies.)

The Discoveries

The first discovery made did not come from JWST as the United States expected, but instead came from the JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) mission, launched in 2022, as a part of ESA’s Cosmic Vision plan to study Jupiter’s icy moons. The JUICE mission reached Jupiter’s moon Ganymede in 2031 and sent back signs of bacterial life beneath the surface of the icy crust. The bacteria found were almost identical to types of bacteria found on the earth. The bacteria had similar structures, and used RNA and DNA as a part of their genetic sequencing. There were several differences however, including the way they harvested their energy, due to the fact that they live in water beneath an icy crust, receiving little to no light from the sun.

JUICE

This discovery sparked a renewed interest in finding life elsewhere. After the 2nd Great Depression ended in the United States in 2025, and in the rest of the world in 2026, there was a major push to stop using fossil fuels and continue to develop alternate energy sources to prevent the dwindling oil supplies that were predicted to be gone by 2035. As the economies around the world began to build themselves up again, money began to be pumped more heavily into researching life on other planets around other stars. With Alpha Centauri being the nearest star system, most money was funding projects that focused on finding planets there. ISA (International Space Agency) was formed in 2037, and with combined funding from many different countries more and more effort was put into finding life around Alpha Centauri.

ISA was not disappointed. Knowing already of one planet within its habitable zone of the Alpha Centauri star system, Albertus Alauda, ISA began to look for any indicators in the atmosphere that would signify industrial processes, like having unnaturally high levels of CO2. The JWST would catch little glimpses of indications, but wasn’t advanced enough to see what we really wanted to see. A new telescope, the GST (Galileo Space Telescope), was built for this purpose alone. It was launched in 2039, and was able to get a read on Albertus Alauda’s atmospheric anomalies within a few hours of being online and ready to go. Once we knew there were industrial processes happening we began sending the signals. We sent one radio signal and one laser signal every day twice a day, one set of signals at noon, and one set of signals at midnight. It takes four light years to reach Alpha Centauri, so we didn’t expect any reply for at least four years.

Contact          

Finally, the time had passed and it was getting to be within a week since we had sent the first signal. People were anticipating news, yet it didn’t come, or at least it didn’t come for a few more months. A message came back at 9:23 PM Mountain Time, on the night of July 18, 2044. It read, once decoded, “We are here, we understand, we will send more.” This was followed a week later by another message that showed how their basic written language and numerical system worked. An interview with an ISA interpreter, Charlotte Hendricks, was taken after this second message was decoded.

Reporter: What kinds of concepts do the aliens share with us in terms of a written language?

Hendricks: Actually, they have a very similar form of written language to us. There are small symbols that represent words, and words form together to create ideas. We are unsure still if what makes up the words are individual letters due to the more pictographic nature of the symbols, but other than that it seems very similar to ours.

Reporter: What about their numerical system? How does it compare to ours?

Hendricks: Their numerical system actually seems to be basically identical to ours. They have symbols that represent a 1, 2, 3… and so on. They also had representation of negative numbers and zero.

Messages from these others came about once a week for the next four years after that, with us responding each week. After those four years we began to see them replying to our messages and we began to have an extremely lagged conversation going on. We learned many things about their societies, their knowledge, and their biology. Our knowledge of our universe has been deepened greatly due to their experiences as a culture. For them, this was the second time an alien species had contacted them in the last 100 years, yet they say this other species wanted to know very little and soon stopped contacting them. They still have no idea why this happened.

Effects On Society

Short Term Effects

Immediately after news of the first arriving message there was an uproar. It seemed almost instantaneous that hundreds of stories of aliens already living among us were reported, and millions of alien talismans, alien dust, alien stones and other strange alien objects began to be sold online for various reasons. Some bought them for protection, and others for communication. One person was able to become a billionaire within a week by selling “Alien Radios.”

This fear of aliens led to a witch hunt for aliens among us. There was a blog published online about how to tell if a person was from outer space including things like, “… do their eyes flash unexpectedly up and down?” or, “How many times do they blink? If they blink excessively 40-60 times in a minute they are most likely going to be tested positively as half alien, half human.” Conspiracy theorists proclaimed that the government had an Alien Relocation Act, which allowed aliens from Albertus Alauda’s to come to Earth to live among us.

The public was very over taken with a fear of aliens coming to attack us and there was a general panic for the next few weeks after contact. Many people began to go offline, or in other words, completely abandon technology and move to more rural areas because they believed that the Earth would soon be attacked by alien invaders here to harvest our bodies for fuel. Grocery store shelves were emptied within three days of most of these predictions that we were going to be invaded, and many homes were left abandoned.

The pseudo-science that had begun to be pushed back and out of people’s minds, like fortune tellers, black magic, ghosts, and demons, now was taking over full force. However, this frenzy did not last too long as the uneducated citizens began to be educated on more aspects of physics and how we still do not have the technology to travel through space at a high enough speed to reach Albertus Alauda.

Long Term Effects

The long term effects of this contact have been much more serious. While we have learned a lot from this species from Albertus Alauda, there has been a great rift in our society. Many of those people who were religious before we made contact, are no longer so. This is due to a belief that we are unique and special and a higher deity had created just us. Since we are no longer alone in the Universe, many people decided that religion could no longer work for them. Those that remained religious were split into two groups: one believes all of this is a hoax, and the other believes that there is a higher purpose in life and there will always be a God even if there are countless other intelligent species out there. These three groups for whatever reason will not tolerate any other the other groups, causing a great shift in government power, and in society as a whole.

Worries

After the last message was received from Albertus Alauda, with no indication of an end to communication, there are worries about why they stopped trying to reach us. There are worries that perhaps another alien species wiped them out, or that disease overtook them, or perhaps they are coming to invade our planet. Whatever the situation, it has caused many experts to look back over the last hundred years and wonder why they would suddenly stop.

Today as a society we have grown a lot since 2018 when the JWST was launched. We have learned to accept the fact that we are not alone, and that we are not unique. We have gathered more information on science, and have been able to advance tremendously on technology. While we still have a long way to go in terms of knowledge, we have come this far, and we might just make it.

A Day to Remember, A Day to Reflect: Space Jam

Flashback. The year is 2025. Our planet Earth is slowly dying. Fossil fuel stores are depleting faster than scientists imagined. The temperature is rising faster than initally planned. Just when all seemed lost, a Signal was received, and that Signal has changed our world ever since.

Coming through to NASA (the old United’s States space program), and to the Russian Federal Space Program, an alien (truly foreign) message was received. Scientists are still working to decode the repeating message, though linguists have confirmed that the entire 4 minute, 57 second recording is indeed a language, just one we have never heard before.

Today. The year is now 2075. The Signal we received was from a distant planet, and we have only heard two Signals since. Each Signal has been slightly different, but the language has remained widely unchanged, according to the UN Committee of Alien Linguistics.

Look at how the world has changed since then. The first emotion to strike the world after the Signal was panic. Major cities all around the world like Dubai, Tokyo, and New York rioted. Countries fell, countries rose, war raged, gas prices spiked more than ever, and the Chinese stock market crashed, sending ripples of doubt and uncertainty around the world. Everything only seemed to be getting worse than where it once was. Until the year 2032, our world as we knew it was collapsing. Then, when all hope seemed lost, NASA and the Russian Federal Space Program, by some miracle came together under the United Nations to form the United Nations Space Program (UNSP) and launched the Ambition III into deep space. It was sent as close as possible to where scientists believed the signal came from. With it, we sent a 4 minute, 57 second long recording of the United Nations President, Arabella Gildes, stating our peaceful, but united and firm, attempt to reciprocate communication. This recording is sandwiched between recordings of the first Signal we heard, and all of that is followed by a prime-number-encoded circle in just beeps. Since its launch, the Ambition III has received only one other Signal, in the year 2065, which is being analyzed with the first Signals by the UN.

Resilience in the Face of Destruction

Humanity’s resilience throughout the ages has been nothing short of miraculous. There are many things that could have sent us to our own destruction, and yet human kind has always made it back. Mt. Vesuvius destroying Pompeii, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Black Death, the Crusades, constant wars in Africa, Columbus discovering the New World, witch trails, the formation of the United States of America, the American Civil War, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, the Holocaust, nuclear weapons, countless natural disasters, presidential assassinations, the Cold War, disputes in the Middle East, killing the rainforests and the Ozone, as well as depleting all natural resources, and of course, the Signal, are just a few of the world and American historical events that could have caused utter destruction, or at least the fall of great civilizations. However, even after the Signal, when it seemed every government was hanging by a thread, when people were rioting, when people were starving, humanity made it through. We made it to the Ambition III launch. We adapted and we survived.

Just as there were countless time we could have destroyed ourselves, we have countless times in which we saved our race. When one nation fell, another rose. When wars and plagues threatened the numbers of our race, it always came to an end. When nuclear destruction seemed eminent, relative peace was achieved. When the stock market crashed, the U.S. recovered. When nations were falling apart, they found new ways to grow together, and when the world as we knew it seemed finite and flat, the Americas were discovered.

Just as humanity has always recovered, so we have recovered since the Signal. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been without sacrifice. No resolution is ever reached without great compromise, and we still have a long way to go, but let’s take a look and appreciate how far we have come.

What’s Changed

One of the biggest changes has been the formation of the New United States of America. Recall that just as one nation collapses, another is reborn. Though the general form of government remains, there have also been major changes. The most important change was the reincarnation of the NASA of the 1950’s. Another major change was that instead of competing with Russia, the NUSA has collaborated with Russia to create the most advanced, receptive probe in the Ambition III.

In fact, somehow the whole world managed to pull together, and it only gets better with every Signal. After the initial blow up of the first Signal, gas prices spiked, stock markets crashed, riots left cities desolate. However, the United Nations was established as the reigning force of the whole earth in 2030, allowing, of course, countries and civilizations to thrive under its protection. The United Nations operates under a checks and balances system similar to that of the old United States of America, in that countries are never allowed more power than their population would allot, and each country can vote, campaign, and elect leaders to the UN Committee of Defense and Unity. With each new Signal, it seems that human kind realizes its mediocrity and is reminded that life is hanging in the balance.

Another major change was the First and Second Population Laws of 2046 and 2068, respectively. The first law restricted parents to two children only, causing orphanages to explode with unwanted, illegal children, and uproars about personal freedoms, testing the strength of the UN. Almost twenty years later the limit was changed to three, but adoption before or after the limit of three is greatly encouraged. It has only been seven years since this change, but the UN reports that orphan numbers are down, and scientists predict a less rapid change in the earth’s population.

Of course the environment has seen some changes as well. The earth’s temperature has only steadily increased by 1.2 degrees Centigrade since the Environmental Acts of 2042 and 2043, rather than the 3.5-4 degrees Centigrade predicted before the Signals. The Acts state that lawns are to be watered once a week globally (or less, in some areas) and that strict public transportation is mandatory in cities over 80,000 people. Government officials enforce this by example. They do not have cars, and there are constant movements for the wealthy to not own (or at least not use) cars. The entire UN Committee of Environmental Conservation is dedicated to coming up with new ways to protect our planet, and has begun work on a “Second Manhattan Project”, that’s rumored to be testing salt water from the oceans as a source of energy. (Though the naming and the rumors surrounding this project raise a great deal of suspicion.)

The UN also put emphasis on making advances in the health fields. Now, more spinal cord injuries are being reversed, life expectancy worldwide has increased by an average of 3 months, and new cases of Type-II diabetes are almost non-existent. However, the most remarkable discovery in the medical field is the cure for cancer. Pax Johan, a German scientist, found a way in 2070 to inject cancerous cells with a hormone that causes the cells to code for a protein that creates a new stop codon, inhibiting cell regeneration. Then, the tumor is removed, or chemo is used. It has only been used in 200 trial cases, but the success rate is 98% in 8 types of cancer, and there are no side effects 1-5 years post-operation for the 196 successful cases. Though the treatment is expensive, and still requires further surgery or chemotherapy, the cancerous cells stop replicating in 98% of all patients. The UN is currently trying to find a way to make this available to all people, but treatments go to children and young adults and children 23 and under first.

A final major change has been the new security satellites orbiting earth. Now, anything as large as a meteor (shooting star) is detected, scanned, processed, and analyzed by the UN Committee of International Defense. True, we are sending a message of peace in the Ambition III, but we have also learned a lot from our past years of wars on this earth, and it would seem that we are taking every precaution as we try to protect our home.

Conclusion

The resounding theme of all these changes is the need to draw closer and closer together as more than a nation, a people, or a continent. We need to come together as a united planet. We must hope for the best, but plan for the worst. What may have seemed like an unsurmountable trial 50 years ago is now a defining, shining moment in our past. The things that seemed important before, like watering our lawns, pale in comparison to the truly universal matters now, such as preparing for alien contact. As a race, we are less concerned with nice cars and more concerned about being a solidified front for when we do eventually have successful interactions with life beyond this world. Simply put, these changes have only brought human kind closer together. There were riots. There were wars. Death and poverty abounded, but most of these changes have been good. Sometimes it is through the greatest trials and adversities that we realize what is truly important and find the strength to become more unified.

Europa And “Esperanza”

It may seem strange to many people of the younger generation that we ever questioned alien life in this universe. However, it is true that at one time, not too long in the past, most of humanity seriously doubted the existence of extraterrestrial life. Now, this February 2135, the centennial anniversary of our first meeting with the Vostok, we take a look back on our fateful discovery of our friendly neighbors.

The year was 2035, and our civilization was facing enough problems to shatter our hopes for a prolonged survival. Our agricultural water supply was dangerously depleted, multiple markets were failing, and many nations seemed to be on the very brink of intense warfare. But perhaps just one problem truly defined this time period: oil. The Earth was out of any viable source of petroleum, and this was causing a disastrous snowball effect. Our crop systems, car industries, and mineral mines were all waiting for their inevitable collapse come fall of that year. Lockheed-Martin had promised that they would have technology capable of portable nuclear fusion, but had failed to make good. Many of the pessimists of the world had begun stockpiling supplies and bunkering down in their homes to await what they saw as the inevitable apocalypse.

It was simply coincidence that this was the same year that the mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, was scheduled to arrive at its location. It had been sent out years before, when the United States still had interest in such endeavors.

“Nobody was really expecting much, ” says Dr. Jeffrey Shigler, a professor of Galactic History at Harvard University. Dr. Shigler has made it his life’s work to study and understand these earliest interactions between Earth and the Vostok. “The mission had been sent out when there was still hope for alternative fuel sources on the Earth, so there was still room in the federal budget and enthusiasm for space travel. By the time the mission reached the surface of Europa, most people had lost interest and simply thought of it as a waste of resources and fuel.”

However, it was fortuitous that the mission had been funded and launched when it was.

“Had the space craft been launched even one, two years later, we would not have had sufficient fossil fuels to reach Europa,” says Shigler. “At the time, scientists and government officials justified it by assuming we would have established sustainable energy that would have eliminated our dependency on fossil fuels.”

It was also important that the nature of the mission had changed. When the mission, the Europa Clipper, was first proposed, it was designed to begin orbiting around Jupiter, performing flybys of the moon and using radar equipment to determine if it were possible for life to survive on Europa. However, due to the mathematical calculations and gravitational work done by the young physicist, Martin Bizet, NASA was able to safely determine a path that allowed the shuttle to land on Europa’s surface. A special covering, made of lead and steel, was designed to protect the rover from Jupiter’s intense radiation.

The space craft landed on Europa on February 19th, 2035, and hardly anyone was watching. The mission control room contained a half a dozen scientists, who made certain that the rover that detached onto the surface, called “Esperanza”, safely landed and discarded of its secondary propulsion engine. This engine was the mechanism that allowed Esperanza to slow down and land, as it took over when the primary engine cut off, adding resistance to the rover’s descent. For the next few days, Esperanza traveled across Europa’s frozen surface, collecting samples, taking pictures, and sending back some live video feed.

“What they saw was interesting, but nothing too exceptional or extraordinary,” claims Shepard Nicolson, the current director of NASA’s control room in Houston. “They were anticipating that if there was life on the planet, it would have migrated to the surface. What they saw gave no indication that there was anything on the planet aside from large amounts of water ice.”

The true discovery did not come until the fourth day of the mission. Esperanza was to begin drilling through the ice, using a specialized high-power drill that would lower it down slowly, until it had reached the depth of about 2 kilometers.

“Almost immediately, Esperanza’s gas meters began picking up methane.” says Nicolson.

“The scientists back in the control room couldn’t believe it,” explains Dr. Shigler. “They were trying to be pessimistic and assume that the methane came from another source other than biological life forms, but they were encouraged by these emissions.”

When Esperanza reached a depth of around .7 kilometers, something happened that would change humanity forever. The radio wave receiver on the rover began to pick up pulsing emissions. These pulses would last for around 1 second, then stop for 2. The scientists back in the control room knew something was unusual when the pulses came in faster groups, 1 pulse lasting for a second, then a rest of 1 second, followed by another 2 second gap.

“These pulses were coming in groups that were prime numbers,” Nicolson says. “Prime numbers, so far as we had seen, had never occurred in nature before, so we knew something either artificial or intelligent had to be sending out the signal.”

The scientists back in the control room waited. Their excitement grew as the pattern eventually dissipated. There was a ten minute pause, long enough for those back on Earth to wonder if they had not just shared a moment of insanity.

Then, a simple message was sent.

“It was a group of 25 pulses, with longer spaces between to indicate how many “off” signals were being sent inbetween the “on” signal of a pulse.” explains Shigler.

When they had plotted out and shaded in the ons and offs into a 5 x 5 pattern, which they created based on the knowledge that 25 was only divisible by a factor of 5, they saw a square. The first half was completely shaded in, but the other half was empty. It took them a few hours to realize what this signal must mean. STOP.

Immediately, the scientists sent a signal to Esperanza to halt its drilling objective. By the time it reached the rover and effectively shut down its operations, Esperanza had already reached a depth of 1.8 km.

The scientists hoped that their compliance would signal that they did not have any malicious intentions and would encourage another signal.

Over the next few months, a slow yet steady stream of information was exchanged. Rudimentary fundamentals of mathematical language were transmitted, which was helped by the similarity between the two forms of maths used on Earth and Europa. This lead to the creation of a simple and effective method of exchanging anthropological and historical information. The scientists learned, and shared with the Earth, that the alien species was peaceful and far from waging intragalactic war. All that they asked was that the rover refrain from drilling down to their subterranean home, as they were wary of what exposure to the surface would do to them. Humans called this race the “Vostok”, after an arctic lake that was buried under a deep layer of ice for millions of years. The Vostok had begun their evolution, much as humans, as microbes that dwelled in the salty liquid water ocean that lies beneath Europa’s icy crust. As slowly only those microbes that could survive the immense radiation from Jupiter reproduced, a process of natural selection began. The Vostok, as they are today, have a flagella-like propellant, hard armored skin, and instead of eyes or visual sensors, they utilize a fine-tuned internal sonar system.

Their civilization was based on scientific truths. At a young age, Vostok, which reproduce via a mitosis like process, are supported in their endeavors to learn about the world around them. For this reason, the majority of any education that the Vostok receive is founded on empirical scientific experimentation.

Anita James, a Vostok anthropologist, explains that the Vostok naturally have more time and opportunity for introspection and intellectual problem solving than humans.

“As they have no ability for sight, they have no visual stimulus. And with their unique sonar system, which works in a way similar to bats here on Earth, they are able to determine when they wish to see their surroundings by stopping a steady stream of high pitched sounds that allows them to get an understanding of what is around them. It’s their way of closing their eyes.”

Their higher mental capacity and scarcity of natural resources on their moon created a race that is singular in its ingenuity and pioneering. So it came as no surprise when it was revealed to humans that the Vostok had mastered several techniques and processes far beyond any that we had ever imagined. Among these was the capability for portable and stable nuclear fusion.

“It’s difficult for anyone alive today to fully understand the relief and change that this brought to humanity. We had used up our entire fossil fuel supply, so we had no hope of ever leaving the planet. Our food supplies were dying in the fields, our economy was collapsing. People were essentially settling down to survive as long as they could, coming to terms with the idea that our race was going to die out within a few generations.”

Indeed, we are forever in debt to our Vostok neighbors. Without the plans for functional nuclear fusion that they were able to communicate to us, we would never have endured as we have. And not only endured, but prospered. We now have sustainable and clean energy that allows us to provide all of the products needed for our world economy. Earth is united, as it communicates as a single planet to an alien race.

Even though a human has never, and may never, meet a Vostok in person, each and every one has a huge debt of gratitude to them. All can rest assured, knowing that we have allies in the Cosmos.

A History of Earth’s New Age of Exploration and The Galactic Commerce Treaty of 2063

Featured imageFeatured image

Ever since Mark White perfected the Alcubierre Warp Drive, humans have been blasted into space with barely a nod to Einstein and his theory of relativity. Harnessing space-time to propel humans through the galaxy, without actually moving, has been the stuff of science fiction for years.Featured image

In order to keep faithful to the laws of relativity, space-time itself had to be bent around the ship, creating a warp-bubble of space; compressing space ahead of the ship and expanding space behind it, to create an over-all movement of the ship much faster than the speed of light. This made the stars close enough to be within our reach and led to the beginning of humanity’s true space age.

Featured imageWhen Mark White started collaborating on the Alcubierre Warp Drive project, he was practically laughed into the most distant corner office in NASA headquarters. There, he worked diligently to come up with a model, and in 2015 was simply patiently waiting for enough funding to prove his concept. (White 2006)

While waiting for approval to go ahead with his mission, he and his team had perfected the propulsion system by modifying a nuclear reactor. (It should be noted that the original reactor had apparently been “procured” from the left-over Iraqi government, and credit should also be given to the Iraqi scientists who came up with the starting structure). White’s team had found an energy source large enough to bend space-time and create Alcubierre’s Warp Drive.Featured image

With this hurdle surmounted, a small test was completed within the safe parameters of NASA’s laboratory. White’s presentation on the use of nuclear energy shocked the wider scientific world, but had sufficient evidence to garner support to fully realize his project. Thanks to White’s entrepreneur team of brilliant scientists, we have fully explored the stars, and have found many new resources in alien plants and animal species.

Life we have found plentiful in our own Galaxy, though not the kind that can talk back to us. The creatures we have found on those distant planets have tickled the fancy of our more wealthy patrons, ensuring funding for NASA’s galactic operations for generations to come. These days it is not uncommon for our entertainment to feature an alien creature, majestically perched on the arm of great actors. Not all the exotic alien plants and animals are merely decorative, of course.

One alien species in particular has extended life back on Earth. The oxygen producing slime-plant discovered within the oceans of Europa was found to be useful, with the right genetic manipulations, to break up the excess CO2 in our own atmosphere. Although a slow process, the air back home is getting cleaner every day. This process was hoped to terraform closer worlds for habitation, though, at present, the process is considered too slow for practical wide-spread implementation.

Instead, the focus was placed on building artificial living quarters for the privacy-minded individual. The subdivision currently orbiting the planet Venus was entirely funded by a group of actors, eager to escape the ever-increasing invasive technology that was made accessible to the public. Several religious groups also started clamoring for an extraterrestrial spot deep in the under-ground tunnels on Mars, further expanding NASA’s budget. The constant flow of money into the space program has propelled humanity further than we have ever been able to achieve.

That funding was sorely needed, after the explosion of 2016, when the now defunct civilian space transport company blew a hole through their Chicago penthouse during a test run of their experimental propulsion system. The resulting damage and loss of life prompted new regulations and full licensing for all space-related activities.

Even with the new regulations, the space age has seen no lack of pilots and engineers. Once the US centralized their education system to model Europe, the imagination of youngsters was sparked by the realities of science and they rushed to fill the highly coveted space-related positions. Our knowledge of science has grown exponentially since 2026, a mere ten years after the U.S. President made this change.

These talented scientists, combined with the new life forms found on widely varying planetary environments, expanded our knowledge of DNA and RNA sequencing even further. This, of course, has led to the extreme extension of life spans we have reached in these last few decades.

Through space exploration and the colonization prospects of nearby systems, we have found a new home for those who have the means to travel and access to good healthcare. With all of those with means leaving Earth for greener pastures, Earth has slumped into a slum-like existence.

As all the opportunities for advancement remain in space and on other planets, Earth is now starting to feel the effects of humanities shifting priorities. With the focus solely on space exploration, carbon emissions have skyrocketed, the world’s oil reserve has been depleted, and Earth’s air has become problematic, weather patterns untenable. With no funding left to support existing infrastructure, many people exist on a less enlightened level. We have not left our lessor Earth-bound ancestors completely in the drift, of course.

The flow of alien trade goods has found its way into the less-advantaged Earth economy, easy for them to purchase when they have money. The Europa slime plant has made good progress within the last few years, covering the Earth with a pretty green goo as it works to clear the air. Our future generations will have access to Earth’s new clean biology in a few decades.

Good healthcare has been made available to all, although of course, all healthcare is provided in one of the many space hospitals orbiting Earth. The access to spacecraft has not been denied, though there are many within the government that are openly campaigning against the expensive upkeep of such transport systems.

In 2040 the US government announced that all operations were to be moved to the more defendable and mobile space stations. The hospitals and education centers, of course, were to move with them. Those left on Earth will have to justify any further expenditure as essential in order to get any bill enacted on by the space-bound congress.

The government has instead focused on the more profitable aspects of space travel, though defense has not been neglected. Current scientific work is centered on making larger ships safer, with outer hulls strong enough to withstand meteorites and space debris.

At the present time, it is illegal to use lasers in space, due to the human error of accuracy combined with the fact that lasers continue to move through space for a long enough distance to be problematic. However, promising work was been done in the development of a “Stop code” that uses disruptive wavelengths to negate human error in alignment and would make lasers a more effective tool for breaking up space debris and other obstacles.

Our ship defenses were put to the test a few years ago, when a particularly rowdy flock of alien creatures hurled a projectile at one of our ships. Although there were a few individuals who argued that the creatures were trying to communicate, it is clear that no intelligent life dominates that planetary system.

Our search for intelligent life had been frustratingly futile, until, in 2057, one of our ship-colonies bumped to a halt at the outer rim of a galaxy with a habitable planet orbiting a lone sun. They could go no further into the system, though they tried to push through anyway. The device that must have created the phenomenon did not seem to be manned.

It was determined that this was a welcoming station, meant to announce awareness to the eventual intelligent space traveler of the existence of more intelligent beings, and as such we were obligated to cross the barrier and meet our new friends. Clearance was made for the one-time use of lasers to destroy the machine-like probes in order to gain access to this new advanced civilization.

Our new friends are frustratingly shy, though they have the means to keep our ships at a distance; some type of movable gravity field that our scientists are working to overcome. Upon civilian insistence, the government deployed one of the larger space stations into the alien solar system to make communication easier. Work began on what was called the Galactic Commerce Treaty of 2063.

Alas, each step of the way has been fraught with missteps, as we tried to communicate our peaceful intentions for trade with the alien civilization. It took much prodding and pushing just to glimpse these strangers, only to find that their appearance is disappointingly similar to our own. They seem not to be interested in our way of life at all, preferring their own solitary existence.

They are not explorers, and they do not seem keen on discovery, as if they are content with what they have. Their culture of isolation has been cited as the reason no communication has been attempted between our civilizations before. Indeed, they never even look at the stars. No communication would have been offered at all we hadn’t wanted to trade with them.

Although all offers of trade-goods have been declined, a plan has been implemented to “prime the pump” in order to compel trade. Once the aliens understand how commerce is imperative for civilization, they will, of course, relent.

Written by Christina Summers

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