Apr 7, 2012

Passionately Curious

"Was Einstein a Space Alien?" This idea was the basis of a throw-away-line in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when an Earthling says about the aliens, "Einstein was probably one of them."

For stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe it is fun to imagine that some folks who pass as Earthlings might actually be visitors to this world. If Einstein had been a tool for space aliens, a conduit for providing humanity with a few scientific ideas, how would we know? What if a few ideas were given to Einstein without him even knowing the source of those ideas? In the story Cellular Civilization, a "junior Einstein" is recruited into a secret technology development project by visitors from another world.

Isaac Asimov used a similar plot device in his novel The End of Eternity. A central plot element in Asimov's time travel novel is a hidden message in old copies of a printed journal (possibly Time magazine). In the story, we see "ancient" print media from the perspective of a future time when most people have never seen words printed on paper. Asimov imagined that the course of human civilization could be completely altered by having a time traveler from the future "give" the idea of nuclear power to a primitive Earthling at a time far before nuclear power would otherwise have become possible.

There are countless science fiction stories that involve taking advanced technology back in time, resulting in a new "Reality", a new timeline for Earthly history. In The End of Eternity Asimov also plays around with ways to prevent specific technologies from being developed. Near the start of the novel a time traveler prevents the development of a new spaceship propulsion method.

One of the first science fiction novels I ever read was The Last Starship from Earth by John Boyd. I've long imagined a prequel to this novel that tells the story of the first time travel mission. I assume that in the original timeline of Earth, the Roman Empire dominated the world. A time traveler is sent back to Roman times with the knowledge of how to make small, cheap, light-weight and powerful crossbows. This time traveler goes to Crete and trains an army of crossbowmen who fight against the Roman army in early imperial times. This creates the world depicted by Boyd in The Last Starship from Earth. Of course, I'd give the plot of the prequel an "exodemic twist"

Google Books: Ngram Viewer

In the graph, above, the green line at the bottom is the frequency of the term "space alien" in books as a function of time. In the graph shown below, "space alien" (red) is compared to "endosymbiont".

For stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe I like to imagine that there might be nanoscopic artificial lifeforms that can reside in human bodies as endosymbionts. Maybe we all have an alien visitor inside our body, but we do not have the required tools to detect this alien influence.

In the graph above, it can be seen that "extraterrestrial" is a more popular term than "space alien". For stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe, "extraterrestrial" and "space alien" are NOT synonymous. I had to create a new term, "Genesaunt", to refer to lifeforms that originated on Earth, but now reside off of Earth. A "real space alien" can trace its origin back to life that arose on some planet other than Earth. The classification system can get messy if there are alien lifeforms living as endosymbionts inside human brains.

So maybe Einstein was not a space alien, but how do we know that space aliens did not have nanoscopic devices inside his brain, guiding his thought patterns in odd directions, towards new ideas that humanity might otherwise only have stumbled upon ten, twenty or a hundred years later? If Einstein was unusually curious about the nature of physical reality, we can ask what motivated him to ask questions and think in new directions that most people could not even imagine. In the Contact television series, I imagine that an alien visitor to Earth (Dr. Wye) makes use of Earthlings such as Kate Robinson as convenient targets for the transfer of knowledge about advanced technologies. Dr. Wye works closely with Kate Robinson and helps guide her thinking in the right direction, allowing Kate to make new discoveries about "Machine" technology, the advanced technology from the "message from Vega".

In the Contact movie, Ellie Arroway is made to imagine that she traveled to the center of the galaxy. In the Contact television series, Earthlings are given scientific and technological assistance by Dr. Wye, allowing Ellie to actually start traveling through space. The alien civilization that gave rise to Dr. Wye is located near the center of the galaxy. Dr. Wye eventually arranges for Ellie to visit the planet where Dr. Wye came into existence. Dr. Wye is an artificial lifeform composed of nanoscopic components rather than cells. Dr. Wye makes use of "nanites" to alter human brain function and lead people like Kate and Ellie towards understanding of advanced alien technology.

Contact television video teaser

Contact television series.....
Contact Episode 1: Pull the Plug
Contact Episode 2: Good to Go
Contact Episode 3: Voice from the Sky
Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega
Contact Episode 5: Look Closer

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