Tag Archives: aliens

Galactic Density of Alien Life in Science Fiction

In science fiction, especially involving interstellar space travel, we often see aliens. Often, but not always. And this is something we wonder today. How many civilisations are there in space? How far are they from us? Will we ever encounter any alien civilisations on other planets?

In Star Trek, the population density of the galaxy is very high. Pretty much any star system with a planet in the Goldilocks zone has life and possibly a civilisation. Alpha Centauri has life, but not a native civilisation. Vulcan, Andor, and Tellar are all fairly close to Earth. Life is everywhere.

In the book that I’m reading now, Redemption Ark (Revelation Space), the galaxy is fairly empty. There have been civilisations, but they’re few and far between and happen at different times. But there’s a reason for it, and that’s explained in the book.

In my own Ariadne universe, I hint at other civilisations, but I don’t go into it so much, because all the action takes place on one planet. At least for now.

In these three, the mode of transportation is also different. In Star Trek, they have warp engines that take their ships out of normal space in a warp bubble, and propel that bubble through space many times the speed of light. No relativistic effects are experienced. In Revelation Space, the spacecraft are able to travel at nearly the speed of light, and there are major relativistic effects. But in Ariadne, I use a modified warp system that is unable to pass the speed of light. However, they use sleeper ships, so the effects of relativity are not felt, but the people also don’t age. In Star Trek, thanks to the form of propulsion, they are able to meet many different civilisations and visit many planets without any difficulties. In Revelation Space and Ariadne, the speeds are not enough to make regular interstellar travel practical.

I find that both kinds have their place in science fiction. I enjoy reading and watching science fiction that use either one. Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.

NASA’s Big Kepler Announcement: It’s Not Aliens

NASA announced recently that they would be making a big announcement today about a discovery by the Kepler Telescope. Well, the announcement is that 1,284 planets have been discovered. And what’s really big is that there’s a 99% chance that they are planets. Here’s a graph of the planets that have been discovered so far.

The known planets discovered so far with Kepler. Credit: NASA Ames/W. Stenzel

Of course, before the announcement was made, many people were speculating on what the announcement would be. This includes science groups on Facebook. Groups that I would think would know better. You see, this is what people were saying: NASA is going to announce aliens!!!!

First of all, science groups were saying this. Really? Too many science groups are promoting both junk science and hype.

Secondly, NASA is not going to announce aliens when they said they were talking about a Kepler discovery. Kepler is not designed to detect life. It cannot detect life. Kepler deals with detecting planets that cross in front of their stars. That does not include detecting alien civilisations or even life. Further observation is required to study the atmosphere, and even then, we can’t be certain if there’s life.

However, several of the new planets are fairly close to Earth-sized and in the habitable zone of their stars. That is exciting. Those planets will be studied to pinpoint their sizes and atmospheres.

So, relax. No aliens will be discovered by Kepler. I don’t know why people even thought that.

Palaeontology and World Building

Creating a new world is a big undertaking.  Last summer, I talked about how I developed Ariadne using my knowledge and education in astronomy, as well as my interest in geography and geology.  But what about the biological aspect?  This is where my interest in palaeontology comes in.

As a child, I was always interested in dinosaurs.  I think that’s pretty common amongst children, but I went even further than that.  I found a book in the library with detailed diagrams of the skeletons and skulls of most known species of dinosaur.  I did my own reconstructions of the dinosaurs in pencil.  I wish I’d kept up with the drawing, but I can always start again.  And I will, actually.  As I grew up, I had to make a decision about what to study in university.  I chose astronomy.  My second choice was palaeontology.  To be honest, I think palaeontology would’ve been more useful, as it involves geology, biology, zoology, and more.  If I could go back to university, it’s what I’d study.

Using palaeontology to build a myriad of animals for Ariadne is something that fascinates me.  How will I do it?  I will start off by developing the basic Classes and Orders of animals, then splitting those up into Families and Genera.  I don’t want to make the Classes identical to what we have on Earth, so I need to be creative.  I can also attempt to trace back the evolution of the animals, which will give me a more realistic variety of animals.  I will examine environments, adaptations, and even colours.

Watching some videos of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals has helped me develop some ideas for animals.  Seeing the family resemblance between dinosaurs and birds is also quite helpful.  The past and present give me a great insight into how to create new animals, ones that I hope will be truly alien.

On my official website, I will be uploading drawings of the animals as part of the Ariadne Encyclopedia.  You may even see some artwork of real animals on this blog in the future.  I’m excited to get back into drawing.

Who’s interested in seeing some of my artwork?

Do aliens exist?

As a science fiction fan, I want to see aliens. I want them to exist. As someone with a degree in physics and astronomy, I have no doubt that life is extremely likely to exist on another planet somewhere in the universe.

With the large number of planets being discovered these days, it’s becoming apparent that small rocky planets are very common in our relatively local stellar neighbourhood. I believe most scientists agree that life in some form is most likely out there somewhere.

The question is, will we ever meet them? The vast distances and high speeds required to travel between the stars makes it extremely unlikely that we will meet them. The only way is if one of us develops a propulsion system that can take us to relativistic speeds without killing us with the immense g-force experienced with the high acceleration required. Or we can use sleeper ships or generation ships. In any case, we need some pretty good technology and the resources to construct such an enormous ship.

Could we communicate with them? Could we breathe the same air? Could we tolerate the same temperatures? What do they look like? So many questions!

Could aliens already be here? Maybe, but how likely is it that an advanced species would exist nearby? We can’t be sure about this without more information and observation.

For now, we can always meet the aliens in science fiction.