Where the hell is E.T.?
In the early 20th, century we found out that the universe is much, much bigger than we ever thought. Since then, we imagine how E.T. looks. We wonder where he is, why doesn’t he attack and conquer us, or why doesn’t he come to teach us.
I'm not a scientist, but I like to question everything and, if I don’t get the answer that I like, I try to find it myself. In the next pages I will try to answer this question: Where the hell is E.T.?
Scientists have proven that the universe is very old, about 13.5 billion years. The earth is only 4.5 billion years old. The scientists explain that after the Big Bang, the universe was full only of hydrogen and a small percent of helium. These 2 elements are surely not enough to build an Earth like planet. So, the first giant stars had to form and then burst in supernovas, and then again and again for the next 6-7 billion years. Only then there were enough of all the other elements in the Periodic Table to build worlds like ours. Let’s take 7 billion and add 4.5 billion (the age of Earth) and we find out that about 2 billion years ago the first intelligent civilizations could have emerged.
50 years means a huge development difference for our civilization. Let’s think how life was on earth 50 years ago, or even 50 years before. My grandfathers were born in 1901. No automobiles, no electricity, no tap water, no vaccines, no …, no … and the list goes on and on. Could we imagine the technology of the next 500 years? But 500 years ago, a man, Leonardo da Vinci imagined some of our technologies. But a “hunter - gatherer” could not. There are only about 10,000-15,000 years between us. So, can we imagine how a civilization that has 1 million years ahead of us is? I really doubt, but I will at least try to imagine this future with the present knowledge.
1. How does E.T. look?
Let’s take DNA, the ground stone of all living beings on our planet, from viruses to mushrooms, and from plants to insects and mammals. There are dated fossils that prove that 3.4 billion years ago, the earth was populated by stromatolites. It’s a bacterium that is still living. Their DNA is complex, so it is pretty sure that the first life on earth emerged only about 500 million years after the Earth was born, or about 4 billion years ago.
The DNA holds all the characteristics of the future living being and is similar to a digital code. Its capacity is huge, bigger than all the code ever written by man, but it has a limited volume. At first RNA, then DNA, it had about 4 billion years to be written and rewritten again and again … and again till the present days. DNA was discovered in 1953, only 64 years ago. The next logic step was to map all the gens in the human DNA. Planning started in 1984, works in 1990 and it was declared finished in 2003. We know now exactly where each gene is and from what atoms it is comprised. The data quantity is huge, but we already have it. Exactly the same process was done with Homo neanderthalensis and it will be done with every living being on earth. DNA is a huge puzzle, but with strict combining rules. In 2014 the scientists succeeded in creating the first synthetic cell. It was not exactly entirely synthetic, only the nucleus. They recycled a cell shell by removing the nucleus and implanting a synthetic nucleus made entirely in the laboratory. The cell was a pretty simple one, one which already existed, but it lived and multiplied as all the others. Other researchers took a drop of water, incased it in a synthetic polymer mimicking a cell shell and injected it with similar substances that exist in a cell. They then watched the reactions - and the processes took place as planned. The next step was to create a completely new cell, whith does not exist in nature. They’ve done it. It lived and multiplied like every other natural cell. The scientists are now figuring how to implement a genetic treatment. They want to take a cell from a cancer patient, to reprogram it to recognize the cancer and implant it. In case of genetic diseases, they want to take a virus, reprogram it to cut out the fault gene and replace it with a correct one. What are the scientists’ plans? They want to find out what each piece from the DNA puzzle is responsible for – what does it do? Is it responsible for building a leg or a hand? The genetic differences between humans and other primates are extremely small, only 1-2%. That 1-2% is responsible for us being what we are. I’m sure you remember the Jurassic Park film. It isn’t any more S.F. In 10-20-30 years I am pretty sure we will see the first results. If we understand the DNA puzzle, we will find out where and how the brain is encoded and how to improve it. Why is a man a genius and another an idiot? The way the brain is build is still a mystery. There a thousand of things that regulate us and our brain and we will understand them in time. So even now we are able to create new life, but if it is complex it needs a uterus to develop. We can implant it in other beings, but it is a complex task. So we need a synthetic uterus. The first incubator for children was created in USA in 1888. Now we have incubators and the technique to save even children born at 500g. So it’s only a question of time till we will have the capacity to breed people in a synthetic uterus. By now you sure ask yourself why am I presenting you all this?
It’s simple. Humans are researching DNA for about 70 years. E.T. had millions to billions of years and a lot of other civilizations to study. By civilizations I don’t mean only big beings. Microbes and viruses are also very interesting and each has its own story to tell. So, if E.T. wants to come on Earth, he can choose any form he wants. He can grow it in a lab, implant a connection to him or even a copy of himself and we would never have any possibility to find him. If he wants to be a human, he will be a human, impossible to distinguish from another human. If he wants to be a dolphin, he can be one.
If E.T. is a complete moron, he will be small, with a green big head and big eyes.
2. How much energy is E.T. using?
In 1964, a Russian scientist Nicolai Kardashev proposed a scale to measure the development of a civilization. The scale has three designated categories:
A Type I civilization — also called a planetary civilization — can use and store all the energy which reaches its planet from its parent star. The Earth we now know would not yet be in this category.
A Type II civilization — also called a stellar civilization — can harness the total energy of its planet's parent star (the most popular hypothetical concept being the Dyson sphere—a device which would encompass the entire star and transfer its energy to the planet(s)).
A Type III civilization — also called a galactic civilization — can control energy on the scale of its entire host galaxy.
This was the presumed development of civilizations at that time. In simple terms: to produce more, we need more energy. But now, after countless energy crises, we have learned that the same goal can be obtained in multiple ways and some are much more energy consuming than others. We now use much less energy for countless processes, from room lighting, cars, TV, computers, smartphones and so on. With computers, each generation is consuming less than the previous and is faster. The same counts to vacuum cleaners, TV-s, radios, LEDs, … About 30 year ago I was repairing TV sets, radios and any electronic device. There were countless such repairing companies because the friability of these devices wasn’t great. Now there are a lot more of such devices but a lot less repairing shops. Our actual energy need for each person has decreased, but because we are a lot more, we need more energy.
Form 1964, the way we understand the universe has evolved continuously. We now can detect planets around stars situated thousands of light years away. We can measure each star’s fluctuations individually if it’s not extremely far, so a civilization of type 2 would be like a light house in our galaxy and a type 3 like a light house for a radius of 13.5 light years – we couldn’t miss it – so something is wrong. Maybe E.T. is not such a big energy consumer. Maybe he learned to consume so little that we simple can’t distinguished him from the background radiation.
So we made another small step in understanding E.T. Why should he waste impressive amounts of energy when there are other ways?
3. How is E.T. thinking?
There is one thing that I am pretty sure. Where ever E.T. goes he will want to have all his knowledge and he will have at least a duplicate (if not millions) so he will survive to any disaster.
Let’s take the human brain. There are about 100 billion neurons packed in something more than 1.3kg of gray matter. Each neuron connects with thousands or tens of thousands other neurons. We are this strange weave of neurons – it represents everything we are - our thoughts and our memories. It is in fact a biological computer more advanced than any yet made human computer. The genetic differences between two humans are 0.5%. 0.5% makes the difference between a moron and Einstein. There are people that excel in everything and others in nothing. There are people like Einstein or Stephen Hawking that are smarter than almost any other people in some fields – they are geniuses. Mozart was a genius of musicality. In each field there are a lot of geniuses, but to every genius there are millions of not so smart people. Why? How could we duplicate it? It’s now one of the biggest questions. What type of a person would E.T. be: a Rambo type, a moron type or a genius type? The universe has very tough laws. Any mistake and you are dead. So, the only way E.T. could survive is being a genius. E.T. had enough time to study his brain and to make himself exactly as he wishes. Another step in brain study is to find out why some of us are simply workaholics and others are so lazy that nothing helps. A lazy genius has the same value as a moron if he does nothing at all. So implementing a workaholic system and a wish to understand everything in E.T.’s brain is a sure thing. Why would he reach for the stars if he wants nothing? So E.T. has to have a something similar to a geniuses’ brain to survive any cosmic catastrophe and lot of other copies of him.
The first computers were built in antiquity - the Antikythera mechanism which is 2150-2200 years old. Evolution in this field was very slow. The next step was taken by Pierre Jaquet-Droz. He is considered one of the best clockmakers of all times and his gem piece is the first programmable robot - a boy who writes a letter. Everything is just mechanic – about 6000 pieces. In 1880 the first accounting mechanic computers were built. In World War 2 mankind took the next step in computing. Because the Germans invented Enigma, a machine for encrypting-decrypting massages, the Allies were forced to find ways to decrypt these messages, and so, under the supervision of a genius, Alan Mathison Turing the first electrical computer was built. The next computer was Eniac, in 1946. It had 17,486 vacuum tubes and it weighed more than 30 tons. Another step was the invention of the transistor in 1947. In 1970 the first integrates circuits were born. The first microprocessors were developer in 1971 - Intel 4004. It had 2300 transistors and 256-byte ROM. The present-day microprocessors have billions of transistors and gigabits of memory. In 1965 one of the Intel cofounders made a prediction:
“Moore's law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit, and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. In 1975, looking forward to the next decade, he revised the forecast to doubling every two years. Moore's prediction proved accurate for several decades, and has been used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development.”
Today computers are many thousand times faster than the first ones and tens of thousands more efficient by a cost of 60,000 times smaller. The scientists try to find a way of using atoms or even smaller particles in the next computers. Another step will be the quantum computers – thousands of time faster than the ones now in some computing fields. We can make prediction for just a few years ahead of us because we simply don’t know what the future will bring.
I just presented the evolution of hardware till now. Let’s have a look at the software.
We are already creating artificial intelligence programs. We succeeded in creating computers better in chess than humans. We created robots that walk, sprint, climb stairs, artificial hands that connect direct to the brain and have feedback. We are still far away from a real artificial intelligence. All the processing power of our present day computers is simply far away from that of a human brain. Let us imagine a piece of our future: why should we invent a new artificial intelligence when we ourselves could use a lot of upgrades. A new video chip or a new audio chip or some memory wouldn’t be an interesting choice for brain upgrades if possible? We will eventually connect the optic nerve with a digital camera, the audio nerve with a microphone or even our whole sensory nervous system with digital sensors. Telepresence will be a reality someday. Do you think E.T. has not also tried these options long, long ago? How many millions of years ago?
I have read about another idea – storing a brain in a computer. Now it’s pure S.F., but in the future, won’t it be possible? The problem is very complicated. Now we don’t even understand how memories are stored in this complicated network of neurons. It seems that not only the numbers of neurons are important, but very important are also the connections between them. We can now see the thoughts as they travel through the brain; we can even restore a photo from the brain of a subject that looks at a photo. Given enough time, we will eventually understand how the brain works and we will perfect a technique to copy it. The brain is an extraordinary piece of equipment, but it has a small problem. It is extremely sensible and it consumes a lot of energy. Our brain is the most protected organ that we have, and yet a simple blow to the head can be fatal. If we take a processor or one of the new SSDs, we could drop them from a building and it would still function. With not much more protection it would resist a drop from the orbit. The brain has another big problem. The neurons have a limited life expectancy and when they die, the memory associated with them dies too. So even if we learn how to repair these damages and grow another neuron in place of the dead one, the data stored is lost forever. In some hundreds of years we would have lost every memory from the distant past. Is it acceptable? I think not.
So where do you think would E.T. chose to store his brain? In a fragile full of neurons brain, or in a silicon (or similar) made computer and memory? E.T. had many million years to perfect the technique and if he succeeded, his brain is a computer marvel, small enough to fit in a small ship, but millions of times more powerful than our computers, having a lot of other copies of himself with whom he is continuously exchanging data to synchronize them.
4. How is E.T. traveling?
We imagine a lot of space traveling methods. From worm holes to warp engines. The fact is that we don’t know if they are even possible, but we sure know a classic type – the rocket. We also developed atomic engines and ionic engines. The ionic engine was tested twice and the atomic engine is possible to be tested on a trip to Mars if everything goes OK.
A colonization or a research space ship that is flying with living beings must be big and needs a lot of power and resources because living beings have lots of needs even if they are frozen. The speed of the ship would also be slow. The space is full of harmful radiation and of leftovers of small size. Flying for hundreds or thousands of years makes it almost impossible for such a big ship not to be struck by a bigger meteorite. We can use huge magnetic shields to prevent some of the radiation, we can use advanced scanning and avoiding systems, but the cost would be extremely high. So is it feasible?
What if instead of a big ship we launch a million of small ships? With an ionic (or something similar) engine they could reach at least 1% of the light speed. With a computer that has one or more minds of living E.T.’s stored onboard it can travel without problems almost any distances. If only a handful of these ships reach the destinations it is OK. They succeeded. There is no problem with time for a computer. We simply put them to sleep and revive them when we want, so the trip for the inhabitants can last almost nothing – if they survive.
So what do you think would be E.T.’s option?
5. Has E.T. ever visited us in the past?
We earlier calculated that the first civilizations could have appeared almost 2 billion years ago. So, the common sense tells us that they have, are and will visit us if they are at least a bit interested in what’s happening on Earth. Let’s say that E.T. evolved just 50.000.000 years before us on a planet in our galaxy, but located on the opposite side of the galaxy. We have measured the size of the Milky Way and found it has about 100,000 light years in diameter. Let’s say that these aliens use the same speed of 1% of the light speed. Using a direct flight would take 10,000,000 years, but it’s impractical because the way would take them in the middle of our galaxy and there the conditions are extreme. So they would take a detour and make frequent stops for study and refueling. Let us double or even triple the time. They would have visited earth 20,000,000 years ago. What if they emerged 2 billion years ago? Well, then they have seen the birth of multicellular life, … and the whole history of our planet.
If an ancient greek would meet a modern man, he would think he meet a God. We are gods for him, but are we really gods? So would a being that’s 1,000,000 or 2,000,000,000 years old be interested in talking to us? I doubt. We wouldn’t even see or recognize them because of their technology. Communicating with them would be like us communicating with a worm - but the worm is similar and closer to us then E.T.
6. Can we see E.T.?
As soon as World War II started, we began using airplane tracking systems – or radars. When WWII ended, everyone was eager to find a way to hide their airplanes. Stealth techniques were developed first for the military airplanes. Then it was used in military to hide ships and machines and military personnel. Each army succeeded more or less, and each generation is stealthier then the one before. We also create other ways to find the enemy and new ways to hide us. This hide and seek war is only 50 to 70 years old. Scientists are in parallel working in hiding things in plain sight by bending the light around an object – something like we’ve seen in S.F. movies, like Predator. They succeeded only with tiny things and not in the visible spectrum, but they are still working. What is the limit of hiding? Is there a limit? We simply don’t know. We haven’t had enough time. But E.T. had.
So, either E.T. has a very faulty technology, or we see a lot of other things instead of UFOs. A being that reached for the stars can’t be so negligent. Every E.T. that we filmed or took pictures of is extremely similar to us. They are far too similar to be real. We overestimate us; we overestimate our importance on a cosmic scale. We like to think that we are the belly of the cosmos, but we sure aren’t.
7. Can we destroy E.T.
S.F. literature is full of energy beings, full of indestructible materials and beings, full of energy shields that can protect against any form of weapon or full of exotic materials that we can’t even analyze. Reality is more prosaic. The only protective shield that we know of is that magnetic field that protects our planet. Till now we haven’t found any other energy protective shield type. The periodic table doesn’t have gaps. There can be stable atoms in the Trans uranium elements that we haven’t found yet, but it’s improbable. Physics has, is and will bring extraordinary surprises. As we analyzed every element and we figured out what it is and where it belongs in the periodic table of elements, we will do it with any exotic or unknown material. Nothing can be so exotic that we can’t understand it. In physics, the laws are clear and can’t be broken, but sometimes they can be bent or bypassed. Every material that we know is destructible, a laser will cut it, a chemical explosion will pulverize it and an atomic explosion will atomize it. So for the question if E.T. is destructible the answer is YES. He is made from the same elements as us. But why would we want to destroy E.T.? Are we mad?
8. What does E.T. want and is he aggressive?
We established in another chapter that E.T. could have visited us anytime in the last 2,000,000,000 years. But we are here and we haven’t heard of E.T. yet. That leads to some conclusions. The first is that E.T. doesn’t exist. But we exist and if we exist, there must be others out there. Statistically it’s impossible that we are alone. If E.T. would be here what would he want? With his technology he could have wiped us out of existence any time in the past or even now. Nothing that we have could resist to E.T. and his technologies. What could he look for? Raw materials? At the periphery of our solar system, about 1 light year from our sun, there is a cloud named The Oort cloud, named after the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort. This cloud is thought to contain the leftovers from the creation of our solar system. It is believed to contain billions of asteroids bigger than 1km and many many more that are smaller. The quantities of raw materials that just float through space are thousands of times more than that from Earth and they are in the path of every E.T. that wants to reach Earth. Comets that periodically fly though the solar system are components of this cloud that were thrown from their path by some random event. Between Marth and Jupiter there is an asteroid belt. These asteroids are the remnants of a planet that was never formed because of Jupiter gravitational pull. This asteroid belt is also full of raw materials and every E.T. will have to cross it too. So E.T. finds abundant raw materials on his way to us.
What else could he want?
If he wants to multiply, it is better, cheaper and faster to do it where the raw materials are. Maybe he wants to stop … and rest? It’s not very likely. We presumed E.T. is something similar to a computer, so he doesn’t need rest. Maybe he wants to live on the surface of a planet and remember what he was millions of years ago. For such a thing you simply don’t destroy anything, you just adapt to the local beings. We established that with his knowledge he can just grow into any form he wants. If he wants to live on the surface he will take a human form with 100% human DNA. If he wants to live in the oceans he will take the form of a wale or dolphin or whatever he wants. We would have no chance of finding him. If by mistake his body is destroyed he will grow another and continue his mission. We haven’t found out what E.T. wants. Our raw materials aren’t attractive; our knowledge is far behind his. The only remaining thing is study.
Let’s take an example. Human researchers studied ants and bees. They studied everything, from eating, multiplying, making war. They filmed, analyzed, dissected … They never ever intervened in their battles. The researchers’ purpose is to study their natural behavior, not to impose another behavior. If E.T. would intervene or even reveal himself, he would disturb our civilization. Any contact, cultural exchange or even scientific exchange would change our culture and push it on another way. A permanent exchange would push our civilization on the same path as that taken by E.T. Interesting for the E.T. as a scientist is to watch humans take their own path, make their own mistakes and have a free will. Maybe all our steps are known to E.T. and we, like others, will take a common path, or maybe we will take a path that’s new even to E.T. and he will have the chance of learning something new. We shouldn’t forget that E.T. is not a single organism, but maybe millions, so each of them would study something else at the same time and then exchange the knowledge. Earth is rich in life. In the last billion years countless species were born and then disappeared into oblivion. A researcher would study and catalog everything, from microorganisms to the biggest one, but never ever interfere. Each new life form would be a surprise even for E.T. because it’s statistically close to impossible that something similar would evolve anywhere else in the whole universe.
Knowledge is power and absolute knowledge means absolute power. Somebody also mentioned that absolute power corrupts. But E.T. doesn’t live in a society, he is self-sufficient.
9. How is E.T. multiplying himself?
We established that E.T. is probably an extremely evolved computer initially containing the knowledge of one or many living beings from his planet of origin. Over millions of years and a vast quantity of new data and knowledge they would have merged, forming something new. Every bit of data must be stored in vast libraries that have to be very resistant to the harsh environment of space traveling. But nothing resists forever, so probably he has nanites – extremely small robots for self-repairing and for multiplying.
There is also another multiplying possibility: atomic 3D printing. We developed the first 3D printers only a few years ago. The homemade 3D printers can create sculptures out of plastic for fun, but the industrial can do extremely sophisticated pieces, used even in the rockets and airplanes. So there is a good chance that E.T. uses such a printer combined with nanites to multiply himself.
10. Is E.T. a God?
As I earlier said, our civilization constantly evolves. A man from the first century would take a man from the 20th century as a God, and a man from the 20th century would take a man from the 30th century as a God or even an E.T. E.T. had millions or even billions of years ahead of us. Arthur Clarke's Third Law says: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So, for us, with the technological development of today, E.T. is like a God, but I doubt that he feels himself as a God.
Nothing guarantees my deductions, nothing guarantees that E.T. exists and that he has visited, is visiting or will ever visit us. We only have statistics and possibilities, and they are in favor of what I said. The universe is really big, bigger even than our imagination. Our planet is one of the 8 planets that orbit a common sun. There are 100 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. The Milky Way is part of the Local Group together with 54 other galaxies. The Local Group itself is a part of the larger Virgo Supercluster, which is a part of the Laniakea Supercluster with is a part of the known universe that has a radius of 13.5 billion light years. There are about 200 to 2000 billion galaxies in this visible to us part of the whole universe. Even this small part of the universe that we can see is pretty big. What lies beyond our visual field is unknown. As time passes, we will see a bigger part of the universe, but the dark energy inflates the universe, so that the distances constantly increase. We don’t know the outcome of the war between these colossal forces. In this vastness it would be absurd to think that intelligent life exists only on Earth. It would be a shame of so much wasted empty space!
P.S. If I would be E.T. and I would study a planet for millions or billions of years, I would store all the data also on the periphery of the solar system in a safe place, but also visible to others. If someone like me passes, he will find the data, study and copy it. If a new galactic civilization emerges in that system, they will find it too, and learn of their past. It is good to know where you come from and who you really are. Maybe such a place already waits for us.
My final opinion is that we will never be contacted by E.T. The only E.T.s that we will ever find will be the one that we fly to, but then we will be the E.T.s and we will never contact them because of the reasons that I already spoke of. But we will study them. And if one day, by chance, we will really meet one of the ancient ones, then we should be careful, because… maybe they don’t like company and they are used to being lonely only with themselves.