As new technology comes into play, amazing images of far away galaxies appear more often and we gaze in wonder at their beauty.
This poses two problems.
One is that there is no-one out there. Astronomers have just scanned 10 million stars and ‘came back with nothing’. No radio signals, no people, no weird non-people. Nothing.
That said, the team from Australia is not giving up. The experiment was conducted using tried and tested sampling techniques but was still ‘like looking for an object in the ocean using a sample the size of a swimming pool’.
And, of course, it may be that our technology is way beyond anything out there, so there is life but no technology to find.
This, of course, we tend not to believe because of all those alien sightings that amuse and alarm us. So, it is more likely that alien technology is far more advanced than ours – and able to make itself invisible to our feeble probings.
The other problem is that where we want to go and play is a long way away. To get to those far away galaxies we need to come up with a completely new way of travelling. Even Betelguese, our stellar neighbour is anywhere between 180 light-years and 1,300 light-years depending on when you take your measurements.
So, even if we could move at light speed, that is two lifetimes.
But light speed is not as absurd as it used to seem. All you need, according to one Jim Woodward, is a small nuclear reactor and some tiny particles that vibrate at the right speed. Apparently you accelerate very slowly over a very long time and Albert Einstein (or at least his law) does the rest. And if that sounds far fetched, as most people believe, Woodward has plans to send a prototype into space to see if the concept works.
There is, of course, another problem.
Just imagine that Woodward is right, that his ship can indeed travel at close to light speed. Also, imagine we figure out how to keep someone alive and fit and well for two centuries. Now imagine us setting off, while somehow keeping in touch, getting to Betelguese, say, and meeting some aliens.
“Where are you from?” they say.
“Earth. Look, that tiny speck there”.
“Interesting. Let’s go and have a look. Take me to your leader”.
At this point, the presumably small team of chronologically ancient humans have to figure out how to get home, who their leader actually is and how to work the technology from four centuries in their future.
It is more likely that they will be overtaken by their grandchildren, who will have had a hundred years or so to figure out newer ways of getting to faraway galaxies. In fact, they will probably be overtaken by their grandchildren, and they…
Getting to other galaxies is a complicated undertaking, before you even begin to get to grips with the technology.
Maybe we are better off gazing at the those far away galaxies and dreaming. Or waiting for them to come to us.
But, hang on a minute…..