[extropy-chat] "How To Prepare For Alien Invasion"

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Apr 26 06:03:25 UTC 2007


Wed 25 Apr 2007

How To Prepare For Alien Invasion

By Scott Hillis

SAN FRANCISCO, April 25 (Reuters) - When the aliens finally
invade Earth, you may wish you had listened to Travis Taylor and
Bob Boan.

And if the invasion follows the plot of a typical Hollywood
blockbuster, they might also be the guys called in at the last
minute to save the day.

After all, they have written "An Introduction to Planetary
Defense", a primer on how humanity can defend itself if little
green men wielding death rays show up at our cosmic doorstep.

And yes, they're serious.

"The probability really is there that aliens exist and are old
enough to have technology to enable them to come here", Taylor
said in an interview.

Taylor and Boan are hardly basement-dwelling paranoids obsessed
with tinfoil hats and Area 51. Taylor holds advanced degrees in
astronomy and physics, and is an associate at consulting firm
Booz Allen Hamilton. He and Boan have done consulting work for
the Defense Department and the U.S. space agency NASA.

But their views have won few audiences outside of science
fiction conventions, and their book is published by BrownWalker
Press, which specializes in fringe topics and books with titles
like The Science And Lore Of The Plant Cell Wall and ESP And

Taylor acknowledged alien invasion is hardly a mainstream
concern but said it is naive to assume - as scientists like the
late Carl Sagan did - that any beings advanced enough to master
star travel will have evolved beyond war.

"It's a wonderful idea that has no basis in reality", Taylor

Fermi's Blunder?

Taylor and Boan - along with co-authors R.C. Anding and T.
Conley Powell - revisit two issues that frequently pop up in
the debate about whether homo sapiens is alone in the universe:
Drake's Equation and Fermi's Paradox.

The formula drawn up by U.S. astronomer Frank Drake in 1960
tries to estimate how likely contact with an alien civilization
is given factors such as the number of habitable planets.

Taylor and Boan plugged in what they felt were conservative
estimates, such as that aliens cannot travel faster than 10
percent of the speed of light.

After crunching the numbers, they say it is possible that our
Milky Way galaxy harbors thousands of intelligent alien species
and that there is a "high probability" that one or two of them
visit Earth every century.

But if there are so many aliens out there, why haven't we heard
from them already?

That is the question famously posed by the physicist Enrico
Fermi in 1950 to dismiss speculation by his colleagues that
intelligent life should be routine.

Taylor and Boan are convinced Fermi got it wrong. Even if aliens
used Godlike technology to jump across thousands of light years
in a single day, they would still need millions of years to
explore all the star systems in the galaxy.

They simply may not have stumbled across our neck of the woods

Mujahideen-Style Resistance

Taylor and Boan started thinking about how to respond to an
aggressive extraterrestrial attack during a 2001 discussion
about defending against terrorist attacks.

"One thing that popped into my mind was that the only way
Americans would be in an asymmetric war on the other side would
be if we were attacked by aliens. Everyone chuckled, but then
after a minute the comments started setting in", Taylor said.

"Then we really got to talking about it and we thought, well,
you know, we really might need this contingency plan anyway",
Taylor said.

Failure to prepare may mean mankind will have to dig in and
fight with improvised weapons and hit-and-run tactics, much the
same way Islamic extremists have battled the U.S. military in
Iraq, Taylor said.

"You'd have to create an insurgency, a mujahideen-type
resistance", Taylor said. "The insurgents know how to win this
war against us. It also tells us that if we were attacked by
aliens, this is our best defense."

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