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Monday, May 22, 2017

ALIENS AND EXTERRESTRIALS


Do you have an alien in your neighborhood?  Of course you do, for any foreigner is considered to be one.  However, do you know of any extraterrestrials?  The odds are very low, if not zero, including the potential for microbial life from beyond Planet Earth.

It's been 70 years since the Roswell Incident, and 35 years ago the movie ET (for Extra Terrestrial) was released.  I spent some time at NASA's Ames Research Center 41 years ago on a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project.  Thus, much of the following represents a crystallization of everything I know about outer space I have learned over most of my life.

I once believed in Santa Claus and flying saucers, but I have matured and gained some wisdom and experience.  But ETs?  Sure, for there are something like 1, followed by 24 or 25 zeros, planets in our Universe, and the odds got to be reasonable that not only should there be other life out there somewhere, but, there should be civilizations many billions of years older than ours.

However, our little ole Milky Way Galaxy--one of perhaps 3 trillion--is so large, that light takes 100,000 years to travel from one end to the other.  Mind you, not from one end of the Universe to the other, but just our own galaxy.  How fast does light travel?  670,600,000 miles per hour.  So, unless aliens find a way to cross wormholes and stuff to travel much faster than the speed of light, don't expect a flying saucer to visit us anytime soon.

The fastest any human has traveled is 24,791 MPH on Earth re-entry, while Juno (unmanned) arrived at Jupiter last year going 165,000 MPH.  However, Solar Probe Plus (unmanned, rendering to the left) next year will reach an orbital velocity of 450,000 MPH, a speed that would take a craft from Earth to Moon in half an hour.  However, this is still 1490 times slower than light.  The Andromeda Galaxy, our Milky Way's closest neighbor, is more than 2.5 light years away.  Thus, if we are ever to travel at 450,000 MPH, it would take 3278 years just to get there.  Plus, consider the energy needed to travel that distance.

Going back that far in our history, the world had a population of maybe 70 million (versus more than 7 billion today) and the Israelites began their Exodus from Egypt.  Still 1261 year before the birth of Jesus.

Thus, all those Star Wars and Star Trek films are fantasies beyond reality.  Yet, it doesn't hurt to speculate what ETs would look like, and a new anthology, appropriately titled Aliensedited by Jim Al-Khalili, provides a current best guess:
  • Myth #1:  Aliens would eat us--nope, the odds are minuscule that the biochemistry of ETs would allow them to process our molecules.
  • Myth #2:  Aliens would breed with us--we can't even reproduce with a chimpanzee, so, this too would be far-fetched.
  • Myth #3:  Aliens would look like us--nope.
  • Myth #4:  Aliens would be living creatures--if anything comes with intelligence, they will be robots sent by their masters.
  • Myth #5:  Aliens would steal our resources--there are better targets, like icy moons and planets with no competition.
Armed with all this knowledge, I yesterday went to see two alien films anyway:

                                    Rotten Tomatoes
                              Reviewers  Audiences   Box Office Mojo   My Score

Alien:  Covenant        73             63                   1                         B-

Galaxy Guardians II   81             90                   2                         B+

For those counting, there have been six (or maybe 7Alien films, the first in 1979, and the latest, Covenant, is actually an immediate prequel to the original, both directed by Ridley Scott.  He also did Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Hannibal and The Martian, and is now 79 years old.  I found the movie disappointing, kind of same old same old.  Gripping?  Yes.  Dark.  Yes.  Michael Fassbender?  Did well, and you'll see him in the next Alien.


I don't recall going to the first Guardians of the Galaxy because I avoid Marvel Comics films.  At $732 million in box office revenues so far, Volume 2 is #1 for 2017.  

Okay, I'm somewhat giving the story away, but the hero is Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, except that Groot does not really talk, so why bother paying him so much money), who is a small, adorable tree here.  Watch Baby (not sure if male or female) dance.  I identified with Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), a genetically modified raccoon, because he was a smart aleck.  

There is a lot of family and tantalizingly empty relationships.  Villains turn out to be okay and good guys not.  You'll see Kurt Russel as god and Sylvester Stallone wistfully.  Stan Lee, former president/chairman of Marvel Comics, now 94, makes an appearance.  David Hasselhoff is shown a time or two.  I haven't even mentioned the main characters, but they're in the photo above.  

What I liked best?  The soundtrack, here to the left.    You can listen to the entire 1 hr 37 min Awesome Mixes 1 and 2.  The first song in #2,  Brandy You're a Fine Girllinks Chris Pratt to his never before seen father, Kurt Russell.

GG 3?  A certainty.

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