More Blue Ball FAQs

In the interest of answering the mounting questions about the sanity of Gary’s actions, there is an important passage in the Frequently Asked Questions portion of the Blue Ball website that you ought to be familiar with:

Q: How do we know that these contacts are not dangerous?

A: We can never be sure about the intentions of another species, especially one living in unidentified circumstances and unavailable for study. However, there are several logical inferences that are difficult to contravene:

*First, given their technological superiority, it is difficult to argue that they need us to betray ourselves. It is certainly not hard to imagine this devious purpose — as many have — but once we step back and take a deep breath we inevitably come to the conclusion that if they have not destroyed us yet it is simply because they have chosen not to.

*Second, we ought to consider how it would be perceived were we to be utterly closed to a superior species because of our own fears, or, more precisely, because of projections based on our own behaviors. This has been called the first Star Trek thesis, but its fundamental value is undeniable. If intelligence has brought us into contact with off-worlders, then the more intelligence we display the better off we are in developing a relationship with this other species.

*Third, we reject the anti-Star Trek thesis, which is that if we display our innate intelligence and resourcefulness, especially in combination with our unpredictability, then we might seem a risk to the future safety of this alien species and that we therefore are more likely to be destroyed. This argument demonstrates our usual hubris; if we imagine a large number of intelligent species, as surely we must at this time, then we have to conceive of ourselves as decidedly average. What’s more, it is inconceivable that we are more resourceful, more intelligent, more dangerous than any intelligent alien species able and willing to contact us, no matter how long-lived and sated that species is. If they really felt they had something to fear from us, they would have ceased contact long ago.

*Fourth, this is an opportunity that humankind can scarcely afford to deny itself. Here is a chance to leapfrog our current internecine stage of development and move into a period of exploration, learning and wisdom that could save billions of lives from suffering and despondency. It could totally redefine our relationship with our planet, our technology, our psychology, our very souls. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity.

Q: Will we ever be visited by this species?

A: The predominant answer seems to be no. We should be skeptical about any information provided to us from the contacting species, since it seems that their general practice is to make information exchange one way. Perhaps we are imperfect conversationalists and don’t know how to engage them properly. But what they do share seems to be with a purpose and hence not one hundred percent reliable.

Nevertheless, in two recorded cases, the responding intelligence on the other end has indicated that physical contact among organic species — organic meaning non-technological rather than, say, carbon-based, since we have so little information about that — is next to impossible. Speaking generally: despite the ability of advanced species to control the entire genome of any one biosphere, it is not possible to control the outcome of an interaction of two biospheres. The interactions of viral and small quickly replicating life forms are simply too unpredictable over time and occur without the checks that evolution would normally provide.

In one case, a tale was told of two species that developed in parallel and that were finally able to meet via ambassadorial contacts. The human respondent recorded the following about this encounter:

“I got the feeling that this story was as much intergalactic legend as history, but it seems to have made for an iron-clad law, like the taboo against incest. One of the worlds was, in fact, consumed in a viral conflagration. Despite the finest medical controls and care, a rogue information chain — the equivalent of our DNA — slipped from the visiting dignitaries into on-world viruses and, after a indeterminate number of mutations, initiated an uncontrollable decimation of all forms of life on the planet. By the time the invading agent was even identified, the world had become uninhabitable. The species might have opted for conversion to a technological basis, but simply did not have time to effect it. The planet’s intelligent remnants, along with the quarantined and very rueful dignitaries, retreated to carefully controlled environments inside spaceships, and became almost over night a nomadic species living off the energy they harvested from the system’s sun. The other planet, living in dread of a similar implosion, exiled its counterpart’s ambassadorial party, and began a rush program to evolve into technological beings, in case the fuse of their own biological destruction was already lit. Their rushed transition into technology left the species completely unsatisfied with what was saved of their organic selves. There never was any conflagration on that planet, but this same legend has it that their subsequent indifference to the organic realm they had left behind led to a general decline and ruin of their home world.”

It has been surmised that this biological incompatibility serves as something akin to the “mutually assured destruction” of nuclear weapons in a cold war situation. This is very possible, and one model under which we might assent to the fear that a more intelligent species could have reason to destroy us. However, the same meager intelligence would seem to indicate that the best solution for a fearful but superior species is not stamping out all the bugs in the corners of their universe, but rather to evolve into a technology-based species that is immune to such bugs. At the same time, even a technological species, insofar as it is attached to the decorative biosphere of its home world or empire of worlds, is unlikely to desire personal contact with other planets that might return the favor with a plague upon their house plants.

Q: Doesn’t space travel make this kind of interaction inevitable? Are we all due to suffer that same fate as the consumptive world?

A: Actually, by all indications, there is very little space travel. There are two reasons for this, at least from the information gathered to date.

First, while quantum phenomena have opened instantaneous communication and control channels across time and space, there has been no equivalent opening for transportation. This is known among some of us as the Star Trek paradox, or sometimes the second Star Trek thesis. While we do live in an interconnected universe — very similar to the one imprinted in the public imagination as the Star Trek universe — one would be mistaken to assume that such connectedness includes atoms. Apparently there is no reliable, macro-scale means of overcoming Einstein’s limitations on time, space and one’s speed relative to light. The subatomic wormholes that are created through quantum tunneling are a completely different thing than a macro wormhole door from one end of the universe to another, and the latter turn out to have absolute limits in terms of energy and unconquerable disruptive forces.

Second, even the most advanced species find it more expedient to rely upon the remote control of atoms rather than on transfer of atoms or even atomic structures. The transporters of Star Trek fame are equivalent to what we see in our contact, but at a scale and detail that is apparently quite impossible in the physical universe. A projection or a simple replica at an unfathomable distance is much easier to produce — well within the scale of difficulty that manageable energy collections permit — than is, even across small distances, a particle-scale replica of the simplest life form. Perhaps this is also by design?