Would We Recognize Extraterrestrial Technology If We Saw It?

There’s a common critique in science fiction series like Star Trek about the extraterrestrial species not looking ‘alien’ enough, as well as about their technology being strangely similar to our own, not to mention compatible to the point where their widgets can be integrated into terrestrial systems by any plucky engineer. Is this critique justified, or perhaps more succinctly put: if we came across real extraterrestrial life with real extraterrestrial technology, would we even notice? Would an alien widget borrowed of an alien spacecraft even work with our own terrestrial spacecraft’s system?

Within the domain of exobiology there are still plenty of discussions on the possible formation and evolutionary paths conceivable within the Universe, but the overarching consensus seems to be that it’s hard to escape the herding effect of fundamental physics. For lifeforms, carbon-based chemistry is the only reasonable option, and when it comes to technology, it’s hard to not end up at technology using the same physical principles which we presume to exist across the Universe, which would practically guarantee some level of interoperability.

What’s notable here is that over the past years, a number of people have claimed to have observed potential alien technology in our Solar System, in particular the ╩╗Oumuamua asteroid in 2017 and a more recent claim by astrophysicist Abraham Loeb regarding an interstellar meteor that impacted Earth in 2019, which he says could be proof of ‘alien technology’. This raises the question of whether we are literally being pummeled by extraterrestrial spacecraft these days.

Continue reading “Would We Recognize Extraterrestrial Technology If We Saw It?”

Hackaday Links Column Banner

Hackaday Links: July 9, 2023

Good news this week from Mars, where Ingenuity finally managed to check in with its controllers after a long silence. The plucky helicopter went silent just after nailing the landing on its 52nd flight back on April 26, and hasn’t been heard from since. Mission planners speculated that Ingenuity, which needs to link to the Perseverance rover to transmit its data, landed in a place where terrain features were blocking line-of-sight between the two. So they weren’t overly concerned about the blackout, but still, one likes to keep in touch with such an irreplaceable asset. The silence was broken last week when Perseverance finally made it to higher ground, allowing the helicopter to link up and dump the data from the last flight. The goal going forward is to keep Ingenuity moving ahead of the rover, acting as a scout for interesting places to explore, which makes it possible that we’ll see more comms blackouts. Ingenuity may be more than ten-fold over the number of flights that were planned, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready for retirement quite yet.

Continue reading “Hackaday Links: July 9, 2023”