Sunday, September 8, 2013

Aliens in the Kuiper Belt

The Kuiper Belt encases our solar system. In my mind, it would provide a hyper intelligent alien race the perfect real estate by which to establish observational posts.

I have explored in this blog previously the Fermi Paradox. In short, this is the idea that despite the fact that our galaxy is so old that it should have fostered thousands of intelligent species by now, it appears to us to be entirely devoid of anything resembling life as we know it.

This article will serve as a rebuke to that paradox. To frame this discussion, I will start with this question: what if there were aliens in the Kuiper Belt?

For those who do not know, the Kuiper Belt is the disk of asteroids, comets, and other planetary materials that circle the sun at a distance far beyond Pluto. In simple terms, it is an asteroid belt that circles the solar system.

If I were a hyper intelligent alien race wanting to contain possible upstart civilizations such as humanity, this would be the region where I would establish my first line of defense.

Not only does it prevent us from viewing them through traditional means (such as if they had a base on the Moon or Mars), but assuming their technology is sufficiently advanced, it would allow them to manipulate any outgoing signals sent from Earth to regions beyond our solar system.

If they wanted us to believe the galaxy was a quiet place, they could manipulate various waves of communication to create such an illusion. Their technology may even be advanced enough to falsify images and readings obtained from our most powerful telescopes, further causing us to believe that we are alone in the universe.

Why would they do this? For many reasons. As I stated above, they could be afraid of our potential, enough to the point that they want to remove our curiosity when it comes to space exploration. They might fear our warlike nature, or intelligence, and though they are humane enough to not want to completely exterminate us, they are not willing to take any risks in terms of fostering our expansion beyond our solar system.

Another purpose they may have is to provide our solar system with defenses from other less amicable space faring civilizations. It could very well be that the Kuiper Belt serves as a front line to an interstellar war between a faction that wishes to preserve us as a species, and another that seeks to destroy us and harvest our population for use as slaves. The faction that wishes to protect us may be simultaneously taking measures to prevent us from detecting anything beyond our solar system, so that we do not interfere in some way.

Another possibility stems from the aforementioned idea that the aliens wish to stifle our desire to explore space. Expect in this scenario, they are actively employing vast devices meant to harvest the energy of our Sun, perhaps in the form of a massive solar system wide dyson sphere. They are civilized enough to the point where they come to the conclusion that it is not right to eliminate us, but have no qualms about harvesting the energy of our star.

If these energy smugglers were to reveal their presence to us, there is no doubt that news of their actions would cause us to take certain measures that would require them to destroy us. So, in their interest and in ours, they manipulate our communications, senors, and other methods of detecting intelligent life so as to continue their harvest.

Yet another possibility is that the Kuiper Belt serves as an observation post for a benevolent species, maybe even a form of humans. Perhaps they wished to seed human life on Earth and see how they would evolve in some form of scenario they concocted, and are watching from afar to analyze how we develop. As part of the experiment, they use all of their technological prowess to deafen our sensory abilities, at least for some time. If we happen to pass some sort of benchmark, such as reaching Mars and establishing a colony, they may reveal themselves to us and allow us to join their interstellar community. If we never reach whatever benchmark they set before the experiment commenced however, perhaps they allow us to wither away for scientific purposes, only revealing themselves once we have been eradicated so as to document the ways in which our civilization failed.

This article may seem to be written in a manner akin to a free-write, and there is reason for that. There are an infinite amount of ways to combat the Fermi Paradox, as revealed by how merely thinking about the issue for a couple of hours I was able to come up with several plausible reasons for why we have yet to detect forms of alien life.

The truth is that, if there are aliens observing us, they are almost certainly capable of faster than light travel and therefore of technological feats that would appear to us to be equivalent to magic. Therefore, it is not out of the question to conclude that the Fermi Paradox is in itself severely flawed, because any race that has advanced sufficiently to the point where they have colonized the entire Milky Way would also necessarily have the means to inhibit any upstarts, like us humans on Earth.

The Fermi Paradox states that because so much time has passed, the Milky Way should have been colonized thousands of times over by intelligent species. My contention is that the paradox solves itself. If the Milky Way has indeed been colonized by a hyper intelligent, hyper advanced race, there is little reason for them to interfere with humans. Indeed, they have far more to gain by preventing us from detecting any evidence of their existence. By doing this they gain various scientific insights through the study of our species while eliminating the possibility of conflict between themselves and humanity were they to reveal themselves prematurely.

If you ask why they have not destroyed us a la Independence Day, there is an answer. It is reasonable to assume that any galaxy spanning civilization has progressed beyond the need to pillage worlds solely for resources. Indeed, if we equate progress to civility, it is likely that killing anything sentient is seen as highly unlawful within their society. If they indeed control the entire Milky Way, there is no need for them to be a militarized people. Far more likely, they have developed into a civilization based on science, technology, and some form of political bureaucracy meant to hold it all together.

For such a civilization, observing our development as a species without provoking us in any way was likely deemed the best course of action. If you think about it, they played the odds well. Chances are we never make it out of the solar system, in which case they gain valuable scientific insights in terms of how we arose, thrived, and failed. If we do manage to leave Earth and colonize the solar system, then in all likelihood we have advanced as a people beyond our petty differences and are ready to join the interstellar community.

To close, there are far too many reasons for why intelligent civilizations may have prevented us from making contact, thus, the Fermi Paradox is not so much a paradox as it is a method to spark a discussion for why the likely existing interstellar community has prevented us from perceiving their existence, and how we as a people can convince them that it is finally time to break their radio silence.

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About The Author

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Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to and the Davis Humanities Institute.