The Blog of Brian Ballard Quass

Brian's response to 'Rendezvous with Pluto" by Christopher Crockett, appearing June 12, 2015, in Science News magazine.

Alien Pen Pals

Introducing a fun new way to ensure interstellar harmony




I think all of humankind's interstellar emissaries should carry an instruction manual among their mementos in case the aliens that we reach decide they'd like to visit earth. Both history and sci-fi movies suggest that such a visit could result in war unless both sides had previously reached some basic understandings about the general intentions of the other. Even then, there would be plenty of wiggle room for sabotage and perfidy on both sides unless both aliens and humans were truly "on the same page" before meeting each other "in person," so to speak. The suggested manual might read something like this:

"While we'd love to see you guys in person, we earthlings suggest that our two species first spend a few years corresponding remotely prior to arranging our first bricks-and-mortar confab. For,although we trust that your own species has long since moved beyond the childish emotions of envy, mistrust, cynicism, and greed, we homo sapiens remain, alas, a trifle fettered by these pathological bugaboos, a fact that you have no doubt already gleaned by Googling the history of 20th-century Earth. So, just to be on the safe side, suppose we tentatively pencil in our first tete-a-tete for 3 Earth years from today? Meanwhile, I suggest that we get acquainted in the time-honored manner of curious (but prudent) pen pals -- from a distance, that is --in the hopes that the information that we share in doing so will not only prove interesting to our respective correspondents but will convince them of our good intentions, one toward the other.

So, for starters, I'll begin:

Hello. My name is Brian. I am (naturally enough) a NASA employee. (Hello?They wouldn't just let ANYBODY write this "message to alien species,"now, would they?) I live in the state of Virginia, in the country of the United States, in the continent known as North America, in the western hemisphere. My favorite sport is baseball and my favorite team is the New York Mets. In my spare time, I read articles in a magazine called"Science News", often "chiming in" with admittedly fascinating comments,which are usually ignored, however, perhaps because their profound import is often obscured by a sort of trenchant repartee on my part, a lighthearted style that academia is feign to dismiss as flippancy, thus abnegating their scientific responsibility to pick up the proffered gauntlet of my admittedly sometimes quite devastating implications, be they philosophical, scientific, or even, as in this case, a trifle sociological.

Let's see, what else? Oh, yes, and my favorite color is blue.

Okay. YOUR turn!"



pluto, christopher crockett, science news, rendezvous with pluto, mementos, aliens













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