Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bored in the Lab

"What if I were the first person to make extraterrestrial contact?"

She was asking no one in particular. This was good, considering she was the only one in the room.

It was her favorite part of the day, the time directly after she'd started code compiling, programs processing, or simulations simulating. The blessed interval when, if anyone accused her of not working, she'd simply point to the screen's progress bar, or direct an ear to the low hum of the machine's cooling fan. It was a time when she could finally think over the usual, required din of physics and mathematics.

She stood and answered, again to no one in particular, "The First Contact...I think I'd be a very good choice. I mean, how many individuals among the human race can prove, at will, the Pythagorean theorem using simple pictographs? Ah, and how many more have practiced doing so for just such an occasion?" This made her content.

"Hmm," she mused, dramatically raising a hand to her chin, stroking the imaginary goatee of deep thought, "but how to convince our new visitors that we are a friendly race?"

She spun to deliver her retort, "How indeed, given that I, myself, have not been properly convinced that the human race is, at its heart, truly friendly! Hmph."

This new line of thought was quite intriguing. There is nothing in her conventional knowledge of the sciences which had dealt with concepts like intergalactic friendship--intergalactic? The chances that the aliens would have originated from outside of our own galaxy are far slimmer than the odds of much simpler intragalactic visitors--but regardless, maybe a philosopher would be more suited to the task. Perhaps even a xenobiologist, who could study the evolutionary psychology of a hypothetical alien ecosystem to determine which gestures or situations an alien might find agreeable.

Wait, if the visitors were hostile, we would likely be incinerated instantly by their advanced technology, and therefore, a visit itself would be evidence in favor of a peaceful civilization.

She spun in her chair. Logic wins again!

As she sat wondering about what kind of propulsion system, if any at all, would be the most practical for interstellar travel, her computer beeped angrily, beckoning her back to her original task--whatever that was.

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