Is There Anyone Home?

The argument, by chance alone, and reinforced by the unblinking faith of Carl Sagan, holds that among billions and billions of stars, there has to be more quasi-intelligent star-stuff in the cosmos than what resides inside the human cranium. To which I offer a resounding: maybe. Maybe not.

But IF, after decades, then centuries and millennia of letters in a bottle sent off into space to propagate our fervent hope that we are not alone, someone answers. What would our first communication say to them?

This is being given heavy consideration in high places, just in case. Witness, the “Dear Aliens” project guided by Lucy Hawking, daughter of physicist Stephen Hawking. As writer in residence at Arizona State, she’s soliciting “first words” from residents of Maricopa County, a greeting of first contact with ET.

Andy Revkin of nytimes offers:

Dear Aliens,

“We’re going through puberty on the scale of a planet, so we hope you aren’t too startled by the messy nature of things here. How long did it take you, as a species, to grow up?

What would you say? Here’s mine:

“If you’ve been watching how we treat each other and our planet, you’ll understand why we think it wise to keep your distance. If there’s any way to do it, we’ll come take what you have and put you to work in our machinery of commerce and war. Nice to have had this chat.”

Of course, if an intelligent civilization was out there, it may have sent it’s message millions or billions of years ago and we’d just be getting it now if it traveled our direction at the speed of light. Then our reply would take an equal amount of time to get back to them.

So. This whole “what would we say” idea as a conversation only makes sense if their ship is hovering at the time, casting a giant shadow over the Mall in DC. And we know how that conversation turned out.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. how about, “we’d welcome some tips if you have a peaceful civilization, but please leave the cookbooks at home.”

    (There’s a Dave Matthews song that says, “If Martians fell from the sky, what would that do to God? Would we put the weapon down, or aim it up at the sky?” Sad to say, but these days I think the answer wouldn’t be a happy one.)

  2. How about, “Come visit, but just so you know, we’re non-edible and non-potable.”


    “We’d like to meet you, but fyi, there’s no sauce in the universe that improves our flavor.”

  3. Would you like some coffee? Tea, perhaps??

    This of course would be after I gather my wits, and calm down. 🙂

    Take care, and keep watching the skies !!