Quick guide for saving t.., p.1
Quick Guide for Saving the Human Race, p.1Ukvard Mil
Quick Guide for Saving the Human Race
Copyright 2016 Ukvard Mil
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Cover picture source: Lifebelt in Water, Das Robert, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Table of Contents
Quick Guide for Saving the Human Race
About the Author
Excerpt from Malign Field
Quick Guide for Saving the Human Race
Katy Perry and Johnny Depp were sitting on the terrace of a London bar.
“So why are we here today, Johnny? This idea, what is it actually about?”
“I don’t know much more than you do. It's a science project, if I understood correctly.”
“A science project? What does that have to do with us?”
“That’s not a question for me, but for them.”
At that very moment, Stephen Hawking and Novak Djokovic appeared at the terrace. They approached the artists and, after friendly greetings, joined them at the table. A waiter emerged beside the table almost at the same time.
“What are you drinking, Katy?” Novak asked.
“Fruit mix with ginger.”
“Same for me, please.”
The physicist ordered a glass of mineral water; in front of Johnny stood a bourbon cocktail.
“The show last night, Katy,” Novak began, “that was something... I ve got no words. I’ve really got no words.”
“I’ve got no words, either,” Johnny added.
“Neither have I,” said Hawking. It's probably needless to say that the actor and the physicist did not attend the concert.
“Thank you all for the kind words, even though you didn't actually say them,” Katy replied with a smile.
“The concert was superb!” said Novak finally.
The friendly chat at the table might have taken some time if Stephen Hawking hadn’t intervened. “Novak, go ahead!” he said. And so, Novak began talking about the reason for their gathering at Dove Hammersmith bar.
While he was speaking, the physicist seemed to be more focused on studying the facial expressions of the artists than listening to what was being said. It wouldn't take a wild guess to realize he had already heard the story. Katy and Johnny carefully listened the whole time; a half an hour, more or less.
“So, what do you say?” asked Hawking as Novak ended.
“It’s a very bad idea,” Johnny said, with an expression of disappointment on his face. “I'm kidding, of course!” he continued immediately, as if afraid of the confused looks that surrounded him. “The idea is excellent!”
“Of course it is!” Katy agreed. “I must admit I didn’t expect anything like this, I’m amazed!”
“But is it feasible?” said Hawking.
The artists grew thoughtful. “I believe we all fear,” Katy began after a brief pause, that there are, unfortunately, very powerful people, who will not be particularly thrilled by this plan.”
Johnny made a gesture as if he wanted to say something, but gave up, as it turned out that Katy had not finished. “However,” she continued, “the plan is of such nature that no one would dare to openly oppose it.”
“But someone could secretly oppose it,” Johnny remarked.
“I don’t like secret actions,” said Hawking.
“Maybe it’s not pointless to hope,” said Novak, “that, in time, the goals of this venture will fascinate even such individuals.”
“Sounds interesting,” Katy said pensively. “On second thought, I think you're absolutely right.”
“Well?” Stephen asked.
“One mustn’t be pessimistic on this matter,” concluded Johnny.
“I agree,” added Katy. A look of satisfaction crossed Novak's face.
“Well?” Hawking asked.
“In other words – what next?” Katy said, and turned to the scientist, who nodded, which meant that she correctly understood the question. “Well, I have a suggestion,” she continued.
“I like suggestions,” said Hawking.
Such was the discussion on a fine London afternoon at the Dove Hammersmith bar, on May 2022.
* * *
Hollywood Hills, California, a week after the meeting in London. It was not boring in Katy Perry’s courtyard. At one smiling table, Robert de Niro described an event that took place in New York's Central Park. “So the old guy told me,” Robert said, “Make sure you say hello to Nathalie and Pierre!
“Who are Natalie and Pierre? I asked him.
“How do you mean – ‘who’? They studied with us for four years!
“Well, I’m not even sure who you are, sir! I said.
“Of course you are! It’s me, Barney! he said, thrusting his face into mine. Barney Bingham!
“I shrugged my shoulders. The man backed up a little, waved and carried on with his trembling voice:
“Mortimer, old boy, you’re all rusty!
“I'm not Mortimer! I said.
“Oh yes, of course you are!
“I promise you, I’m not!
“Who are you, then?
“The old man peered at me for a while, then shook his head doubtfully. All right then! he said, then turned around and walked off.
“The guy is a legend!” Sting exclaimed, laughing. Oprah Winfrey raised her glass: “Long live the old man!”
“Tell us, so we get to have a laugh too!” broke in Michael Jordan from the next table.
“Wait a minute, we didn’t laugh enough yet!” Sting replied, followed by general laughter.
“It seems to me you’re having a good time here!” piped up Katy Perry, approaching the cheerful table. She then spoke to the trio following her. “That’s it,” she said, “three places.” Orhan Pamuk, Adriana Lima and Brad Pitt greeted the others and sat down between Robert and Sting. Katie went back through the tables and found Novak Djokovic, sitting at the scientists’ table.
“So why didn’t Milos come?” she asked Novak.
“He believes his participation here is superfluous. It’s the idea that matters, not me, he said.”
“I see. Still...”
“Sure, it would be better if he were here,” Novak agreed; then looked around. “This event...” he said, “to gather this many people, Katy, it really is a big deal!”
“The very project is big, too,” Katy replied. “When do we start?”
“Is everyone here?” asked Novak.
“That's it, I think. I doubt anyone else will come.”
“Shall we wait for some twenty more minutes, just in case?”
“All right. Will you not speak, then?”
“Let's leave the matter to the scientists this time. They will explain it properly.”
Half an hour later, Katy turned to the audience:
“Ladies and gentlemen, Neil deGrasse Tyson!”
* * *
Birch Valley, two weeks earlier. Novak Djokovic was jogging across the field, followed by the early morning sun. He got to the edge of the valley, and carried on at the same pace through the thin shade of rare tree crowns. Upon leaving the grove he found himself again in a meadow, significantly smaller than the previous one, on whose opposite side was a spring of cold drinking water. In the grass near the spring sat two shepherds. Close to them, a few sheep were browsing among the bushes. Novak approached the shepherds.
“Good morning, champ! Good morning, legend!” the shepherds exclaimed merrily. “Well, you came here just at the right time!” One of the shepherds crouched down and unfolded a cloth bundle that lay in the grass. It was full of apples. “You haven’t tried apples like these yet! We just picked them. Please, sit down with us and eat up!”
“With pleasure! Before that, I'd just like to...”
“Of course you would! There’s no better water than this one!”
Novak went down to the spring, quenched his thirst and returned to the shepherds, who sat around the apples.
“They’re excellent, indeed!” confirmed the athlete after taking a few bites. “The juiciest I've ever eaten!”
“We had some sort of discussion these days...” began one of the shepherds. It was the beginning of a conversation that would last more than the sportsman would have expected. Somewhere during the conversation Novak remarked:
“Now, I’m not so sure you are shepherds anymore.”
* * *
Something more than a month before Novak's meeting with the shepherds, on March 2022, a great scientific discovery shook the world. On this occasion, the scientist Michio Kaku appeared on CNN.
“Could you describe us the situation in a little more detail, Mr. Kaku?”
“Let's start from the beginning. A few days ago, radio telescopes detected a sort of signal from outer space, in the frequency range of radio waves.”
“A signal that’s not of natural origin?”
“That's right. It is a creation of intelligent beings.”
“Finally, here is the proof that we are not alone.”
“And we're all very excited about it,” added the physicist with a smile. “It was beginning to get boring.”
“The signal came from the direction of a known star, if I'm not mistaken?”
“Well known in the science world, actually. It is the Eta Cas star, in the Cassiopeia constellation. It’s just about nineteen light-years away from us.”
“That's very close.”
“It indeed is. Our fastest spacecraft would only take three hundred thousand years to get there.” Michio was in a good mood, as usual.
“I don’t get why everyone says it’s close?” The host was witty, too.
“Jokes aside, it really is our galactic neighbor, one of the closest stars. Now, there is something very interesting here.”
“And that is?”
“Calculations show that the Milky Way contains more than three hundred billion stars. If we assume that the stars hosting civilizations are not in abundance, then the probability that just a star from the book will send us a signal is equal to zero.”
“Therefore, the assumption isn’t good, is it?”
“That’s how it seems.”
“Interesting. And our story doesn’t end with Eta Cas, does it?”
“Far from it. Shortly after the discovery of radio waves from this star, it turned out that they actually carry an audio signal. Or, to be more precise – voice messages, which were, with shorter or longer pauses, persistently arriving one after the other. There was something very interesting here – the voice in the messages was not always the same.”
“And that called into question the initial idea that the messages were for us?”
“Exactly. For if you want to make a first contact with a civilization, is it the best idea to give a microphone to other folks in the house and let everyone talk as much as they like? Later that day, therefore, when conditions were met, the receivers were turned toward the opposite side of the sky, in the direction of propagation of the signal from Eta Cas. And – bingo! One star in the constellation Centaurus, located about thirty light years away from us, emitted a signal on the same frequency as Eta Cas. This star will get a nice name these days.”
“Isn’t it a bit strange, Mr. Kaku?”
“So many years of unsuccessful searching for life in the cosmos, and now, out of the blue – two civilizations! With us right in the way of their intercommunication. How is it that these signals have not been detected earlier?”
“There was no technology advanced enough, earlier devices were not as sensitive. These signals are very weak, and the system that monitors them is the only one able to do so. It was put into operation just recently.”
“They say this second signal carries voice messages too.”
“Numerous voice messages.”
“But how do they even understand each other?”
“How do you and I understand each other?”
“Well, we’re speaking the same language.”
“Did I ever say they are speaking different languages?” These words were followed by a wide smile on the scholar’s face.
“You don’t mean...”
“That's exactly what I mean.”
“It's very interesting!”
“Terribly interesting, I would say. And believe me, there is something even more interesting.”
“Do you know what half-duplex communication is?”
“It would be better if you explained, I believe,” replied the host with a chuckle.
“All right; half-duplex communication, then. It’s a type of two-way communication system in which information is transmitted and received alternately. One cannot send and receive signals at the same time.”
“Walkie-talkie, excellent! Tell me, is there something specific about this type of conversation? What makes it different to other types?”
“Holding devices in hands and pressing buttons.”
“Fine. But what if you had no visual contact with the participants in the conversation – how would you figure out they’re using walkie-talkies?”
“Wait a minute...” said the host and thought for a little while. “Of course!” she continued after a short break. “There is a word. Each message ends with a specific word, such as ‘over’ or something similar.”
“Precisely. That word means: Speak now, the message is over.” Here the scientist fell silent for a moment, apparently with the intention to point out the words he was about to say. “But what if I tell you something now,” he continued, “what if I tell you that each message ends with the same word?”
“You're talking about the messages we intercepted?”
“Both sides end their messages with the same word?”
“It would mean that... But how, at such a distance...” The host didn’t finish her thought.
“Yes, how? For these two worlds are separated by fifty light years, and since the radio waves travel at the speed of light, the message takes fifty years to reach its destination. If you send a message to someone so far away, the answer will arrive at best in a hundred years. However, as we see, this does not apply to these two civilizations. They wait for the answer no longer than you wait for water to boil on the kitchen stove.”
“How is it possible?”
“Well, you see... all right, let's simplify the situation and not talk about wormholes here. Suppose you want to send a message to a planet fifty light years away. If you are able to somehow tell your ancestor, who lived a hundred years ago, to send a message for you, then you can hope you won’t get tired waiting for a reply.”
“Therefore, it’s necessary to arrange for the message to be sent from the past?”
“That would be one way.”
“Civilizations capable of something like that are far more developed than us, right?”
“At least one of these two civilizations is extremely advanced.”
“If I'm not mistaken, such a civilization must be aware of our existence.”
“They certainly know about us.”
“But why didn’t they make contact with us already?”
“That’s a good question.”
* * *
Why didn’t they make contact with us?
This was one of the key issues discussed at numerous scientific meetings organized at the time of discovery of intelligence in the outer space. There were other interesting questions too, like: Are we in danger? or Should we contact them or not? And of course, there were various opinions on these issues. Scientists were generally in agreement regarding one idea – the idea that a civilization able to visit us is potentially dangerous. There were some opposing opinions too, but such were rare. One of those rare dissenting opinions could be heard at the meeting in Paris, when Natalia Popova, physicist from Moscow, came to the speaking table.
“The probability that a conquering, destructive civilization, reaches a level of development required for interstellar travel is equal to zero. Why? Any tendency toward destruction brings with it the danger of self-destruction. When it comes to an entire civilization, this danger becomes real the moment you develop a technology able to, for a relatively short time, carry out the destruction on a global level. Given that the progress toward supercivilization from that moment on lasts for thousands of years, it is clear that a civilization inclined to warfare cannot achieve it. Take the example of our own civilization, a typical destructive world that just created weapons of mass destruction; a world which, therefore, finally got the opportunity to rapidly destroy itself; a world that, well aware of its turbulent history of destruction and bloodshed, is eagerly awaiting what a new day shall bring. What could such a world expect but to destroy itself long before it gets tired of the long journey to the advanced world? Even more so as the development of science and technology brings with it more modern and more destructive weapons, permanently increasing the prospects for an imminent collapse of a warlike civilization.
“Advanced worlds, therefore, cannot be conquering. Accordingly, they are not a threat for us and there is no reason to be afraid of them. The encounter with such a civilization, with their high moral and spiritual values, could only be of great benefit to us. Unfortunately, the chances for this to happen are very small. The reason for this is simple: advanced worlds don’t want contact with us. This is well illustrated by the example of the two civilizations we discovered – despite undoubtedly aware of our existence, they have never contacted us. And that's not unusual at all, for why would a society filled with goodness and welfare even want to have any contact with a world where evil lurks behind every corner? Someone will say here: Wouldn’t such a kind society want to help us heal our madness? The answer could be, They know very well there’s no cure for us, or, Civilization itself should recognize its illness and find a cure. No one else could help here. For maybe just that advanced world, long time ago, without any outside help, cured itself from the same illness. If so, it would be quite expected of them to fear catching that ominous disease again, this time with no chance of recovery. And this would be another possible reason for them avoiding contacts of this kind. Still, whatever the reason may be, we shouldn’t completely dismiss the possibility of meeting them at some point in the future. For if, by any chance, we do defeat our disease, if we become a decent society, they may one day indeed contact us and help us speed up our progress toward supercivilization. And so on and so forth, as there definitely are conditions for a serious discussion here. Whatever, the fact is that they still haven’t made contact with us and certainly have a good reason not to.”
Quick Guide for Saving the Human Race by Ukvard Mil / Science Fiction have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on19 votes