2015-10-17

Looking for love...

The Southern Milky Way Above ALMA
The Atacama Large Millimetre Array
(got to love the idea of large millimetres...)
I once read a SciFi story (this is a slight underestimate) where an expedition goes to one of the Magellanic Clouds (small satellite galaxies, orbiting the Milky Way.)  They discover no living civilisations but they do find the debris of a triangular parabolic structure some thousands of miles across...

E.g. a radio telescope, a big, big radio telescope.

...pointing back at the Milky Way.  The explorers conclude that they know nothing about what kind of creatures once lived there, but they must have been lonely.


For me, S.E.T.I. is one of the most important things that human beings do.  Obviously there are more urgent things: eradicating disease, stopping war, feeding the hungry—but once you've sorted out those basics, and maybe found a cure for cancer death, what are you going to do?

I can imagine as time goes by, and if nothing else really urgent and/or fascinating comes along, we might devote more and more of our spare time and energy to the search.


If internet dating sites teach us anything it is that everybody is lonely.  Most folk are also horny, but all of them are lonely.  Go on...  start building a bigger telescope today.




Looking for love by very long baseline interferometry

The galaxy is filled with empty rooms
and we peer in through dusty nets
to see what sort of furnishings are there,
if any.  We nose the neighbourhood --
stalkers muttering beneath our breath
of exoplanets left on tables,
methane lines in spectra, which we pin
butterfly-like, to the cork-board in our room.
The jury's out.  We do not know, even
if we dared, whether we could screw technology
in both our hands and, launching from our front door
through the gate, slingshot around the privet hedge
and down the other path to knock—in prime numbers—
then ask to borrow half a cup of flour.


No comments:

Post a comment