After a weekend’s break, my chum John sprang back into action with today’s portion of his 30-day build of the LEGO Ultimate A-Wing Starfighter model from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. As you may recall, John is implementing only 19 instructions a day so as to wring the last drop of satisfaction out of this build (see also Savor the Day).
Accompanying today’s photo, John spake the following words of wisdom: “I already knew what was to come today. First you do one wing, and then — of course — you do the other. As you will observe, there are three grey panels on the bottom wing and none on the top. Apparently, these slight differences serve to make the model more realistic. If you want to find out more about the A-Wing Starfighter, there is a tremendous resource on the net called ‘Wookipedia’ where you will find the full story behind the fighter and anything else to do with Star Wars. As for tomorrow and the model, it will be a surprise because I have no idea what comes next.”
Personally, I can’t wait to see what is to come. Meanwhile, in our Day 9 blog, we pondered the possibility of one day discovering rudimentary life on other planets and moons in our solar system (Mars, Venus, Europa, Enceladus…). Later, on Day 10, we mused on whether we will ever get to make contact other intelligent lifeforms and, if so, whether the results would be good or bad, happy or sad.
To be honest, I actually spend quite a lot of time contemplating what sort of form intelligent alien life might take. Would we even recognize it as being intelligent until it bit us on the bum (metaphorically speaking) or patted us on our heads? Speaking of heads, do you recall this Far Side cartoon with the caption, “Inadvertently, Roy dooms the entire earth to annihilation when, in an attempt to be friendly, he seizes the leader by the head and shakes vigorously”?
Many of us tend to anthropomorphize things; that is, we attribute human characteristics to both animate and inanimate objects. When I was a kid on the beach, for example, if I saw a rock or a shell on its own, I would move it next to one of its companions so it wouldn’t get lonely (I sometimes have to fight the urge to do this to this day).
Similarly, based on films like Star Wars, it’s tempting to think of aliens as being a bit like Jar Jar Binks with whom we could converse and befriend, but what are the odds of this really happening? Might alien life be more like The Blob (not intelligent, but scary nonetheless) or The Thing (possibly intelligent, but not driven to open a dialog). How about the creature in Life (which scared the bejabbers out of me)? Or what about something that’s totally incomprehensible to us like Stephen King’s IT (which was an alien of sorts)?
If you haven’t already seen it, there’s a rather good series on Netflix called Alien Worlds that provides an interesting perspective on things. Also, as I wrote in Musings on Alien Life, the book Imagined Life: A Speculative Scientific Journey among the Exoplanets in Search of Intelligent Aliens, Ice Creatures, and Supergravity Animals by James Trefil and Michael Summers does a good job of envisaging various paths life might take in diverse settings like ice worlds, ocean worlds with no dry land, worlds where the oceans are surrounded by shells of ice, halo worlds that are tidally locked with their sun, super massive planets, and even rogue worlds (planets hurling through space without a sun to call their own).
Also, way back in the mists of time we used to call our Day 2 build blog, we discussed the concept of alien intelligences sending out fleets of artificially intelligent self-replicating machines that are designed to hunt down and destroy other races, including our own. I tell you, there are some days when I think how wonderful it would be to make first contact with other intelligences, and other days when I thank our lucky stars (no pun intended) that we haven’t. What say you? What are your thoughts on all of this?