Conspiracy Theories: Invasions, Abductions and Aliens
Conspiracy 1: We are not Alone... Or are we?
Conspiracy 2: Invasions, Abductions, Crop Circles etc'...
Conspiracy 3: Roswell
Conspiracy 4: The Lunar Landing
Conspiracy 5: Dead Presidents
Conspiracy 6: Nostradamus and 9/11
Annex 1: Lost in translation, or: So how do all those Aliens speak the King's English?
A. Math and Science
C. The Universal Translator
E. Inventing a language
F. The theory of common origin
G. The Learning Process
Annex 2: So what do they really look like?
The definition of conspiracy according to the Webster Dictionary is:"1. to join in a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or an act which becomes unlawful as a result of the secret agreement; 2. to act in harmony toward a common end." Sounds simple, doesn't it?
David Aaronovitch, (2010). Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History.The Conspiracy Theory Detector: How to tell the difference between true and false conspiracy theories By Michael Shermer
2. Which frequency should we monitor?
It us impossible, of course, to monitor all existing radio frequencies, in a reasonable level of separation, for a reasonable time. The question which arises is that if some civilization "out there" is broadcasting, which frequency would it choose, so that other intelligent beings can pick up the transmission? Is there a "preferred" or "obvious" frequency within the spectrum? The answer is the "water hole" frequency. Each atomic compound vibrates in its own characteristic frequency, and as it happens, the vibration frequencies of atomic Hydrogen and hydroxyl ions (OH_), both found interstellar space, are very close. Since hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe (75% of its known substance), its natural vibration frequency he will by the most "probable" So most SETI receivers are tuned to1419.95 Megahertz - the "water hole" frequency. The name suggests a compound of hydrogen and hydroxyl, i. e. water, but also the image of the "water hole" as a meeting place for different species of animals.
3. How do you filter the desired signal from the multitude of signals picked up on the chosen frequency?
You need an enormous amount of computer time to analyze the signals intercepted and filter out the "real" broadcasts, as opposed to meaningful signals of terrestrial or astrophysical-natural origin (for example, when pulsars were discovered, the researchers initially thought they were receiving transmissions from intelligent beings, and it took a while until they realized they were mistaken).
SETI found a partial solution to the problem. In its center at the University of California at Berkeley, signals from many SETI projects are collected and divided into segments, sent to volunteers all over the world, who have special "screensaver" software installed in their computers. The software processes the data while the computer is not busy with other tasks. The processing results are sent to the center, which sends back a new segment to be for processed, and so on. Anyone with a computer connected to the Internet and who wants to join the effort can click here (and is welcome to do so).
Except for a few false alarms, SETI has not been able to pick signals which could be unequivocally identified as coming from intelligent extra terrestrial beings. In the early 1950', Renowned physicist Enrico Fermi posed the question in its simplest form: "Where are they?" If such an abundance of intelligent life forms exists in the universe, why haven't any of them made contact with us?
One answer to Fermi's question can be very simple, as stated above, N=1; I. e, the appearance of life is such an unlikely event, that its mere occurrence once is such a miracle, that we should not expect another one.
There are also more sophisticated answers, some of which are based on other components of Drake's formula:
1. Suppose there are plenty of life forms on other planets. What are the chances they will develop intelligence, in the familiar sense of this term?
This question (see fi in the equation) relates directly to our perception of human evolution: was the development of our big and sophisticated brains s an evolutionary necessity, or a mere coincidence? This is a highly controversial question.
2. If intelligence did evolve, what is the likelihood that its owners will be interested in making contact with other civilizations (see fc in the equation)?
A reasonable method of calculation is yet to be suggested.
3. How long will an intelligent civilization, able and willing to make contact, exist (see fL in the equation)?
From our limited experience, this period may be relatively short here for several possible reasons::
a. The civilization destroyed itself (nuclear war, pollution, over population, etc');
b. the broadcast "window" was limited, and we did not have time to pick up the broadcasts of this civilization, because it destroys itself before we gained the ability to pick up its broadcasts (even given the time lapse between transmission and reception over interstellar distances);
"First Contact" is, as we know, the term that describes the first encounter of mankind with those intelligent beings, if and when we find them.So how will the first encounter of mankind with an Alien civilization really look like? In literature and in the cinema there are some common First Contact scenarios. Note that in the all them, you will find the following: Dumb politicians; Scientists nobody listens to; Trigger happy generals; A single dimensional/fighter pilot president; A "misfit" who deciphers the true intentions of the Aliens.
First Contact Scenario: your place or ours?This scenario, just like all Sci Fi scenarios, has several clearly defined stages: 1. The message arrives; 2. The first receiver is a misdiagnosed eccentric/misfit/genius; 3. The message is deciphered; 4. The military intervenes and tries to take over the project; The scientists advocate a dialogue 5. The first recipient insists on taking a part in the Encounter and joining the Visitors; 6. The Finale (mutual annihilation or eternal peace - it should be noted that encounters that end on a positive note are actually the rarest)
1. The message arrives
The balls/The candy
Radio signals are interpreted as specifications for an inter-stellar spacecraft
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Roy Neary starts to draw a mountain, make mashed potato mounds, etc’, leading him to the rendezvous with the spacecraft
Star Ttek – The First Contact Version
In the Movie "First Contact", as we all know, the crew went back in time in order to encourage Zefram Cochran, the inventor of the Warp Drive, to complete his invention (and save Earth from being overrun by the Borg).
Star Ttek – The Enterprise Version
The Vulcans were the ones who initiated the First Contact with mankind, in direct violation of their own Prime Directive (See Babylon 5 Minbari).
This was apparently a very illogical decision on their part, in light of our (and their) knowledge of the history of First Contacts, but go figure a Vulcan mind…
Incidentally, in the episode In A Mirror, Darkly (1), taking place in an Alternate Universe, the unfortunate Vulcan emissary who comes to Earth bearing his greeting of Live long and prosper us murdered by Zefram Cochran…
In the episode Carbon Creek, T'pol tells a surprised Archer the story of an earlier encounter between Vulcans and mankind, which occurred in the 1960' (that is, before the historical encounter with Zefram Cochran and after "Little Green Men"). According to T'pol, a Vulcan vessel crash-landed on Earth near a little remote town (where else) and the three survivors assimilated themselves among the inhabitants of the town, hiding their real identities. One of them even became the Town Hero when he rescued miners trapped in a mine (in spite of the warnings against intervention and "cultural contamination"), and when a Vulcan rescue vessel finally came to pick them up, he decided to stay behind, and if he hasn't died (after all, Vulcans are known for their longevity), then he lives happily ever after on Earth to this very day…
The Centauri are the first Alien race to make contact with Humans in the middle of the 23rd century.
2. The first receiver is a misdiagnosed eccentric/misfit/genius
Ellie Arroway, a misdiagnosed gifted child, her father was the only one who let her be her true self (until his timely death).
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Roy Neary and the scientist who supported him
Star Ttek – The First Contact Version
Zephrem Cochrane is called to complete his Warp Drive
Star Ttek – The Enterprise Version
Zephrem Cochrane is called to complete his Warp Drive
3. The message is deciphered
E T just wants to phone home
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Star Ttek – The First Contact Version
The Universal Translator
Star Ttek – The Enterprise Version
Cochran's historic maiden voyage attracted the attention of the pointed-eared and sharp-minded Vulcans, and they decided to make contact.
4. The military intervenes and tries to take over the project; The scientists advocate a dialogue
E T is taken to the test lab
The NSA takes over the project
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Isolating the site under the guise of a "dangerous chemical leak"
Star Ttek – The First Contact Version
The Enterprise started out a military ship belonging to Starfleet (incidentally, it never docked in DS9, except maybe in the first episode)
Star Ttek – The Enterprise Version
The Minbari made First Contact with Humanity 1000 years after the first Shadows War. The result was as usual catastrophic, and as usual due to mutual misunderstanding.
5. The first recipient insists on taking a part in the Encounter and joining the Visitors
Elliot leads the rescue operation
Ellie fights her boss for the right to go on the trip, but only when he gets killed in a terrorist attack does her wish come true
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Bermuda Triangle survivors and the abducted buy are returned/Roy Neary boards the spacecraft
Star Ttek – The First Contact Version
Zephrem Cochrane joins the first Warp flight
Star Ttek – The Enterprise Version
6. The Finale (mutual annihilation or eternal peace – it should be noted that encounters that end on a positive note are actually the rarest)
The spacecraft comes to take E T home
Why did the camera record 18 hours of Static?
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The spacecraft with Neary takes off and vanishes
Star Ttek – The First Contact Version
Every new civilization discovered is invited to join the Federation and sign a pact of peace and understanding with Earth (or else…)
Star Ttek – The Enterprise Version
There is no need to go far to find reports of encounters with beings from outer space, invasions and abductions. They already exist in our Bible, and according to some analysts, you don't have to work hard to find them.
Stories about earth women who bore giants to 'Sons of God (Genesis, etc'); the question of the identity of those "Sons of God" is highly controversial, and I will not try to tackle it here. Suffice it to mention that according to some, they are simply Angels, which is evident in the many cases where "Angels" took human form and revealed themselves to humans. This is what they are called, for example, in the Septuagint and in the writings of Philo of Alexandria. This is actually a well known element in all mythologies - one of the hobbies of Zeus, the Greek king of Gods, was to disguise himself as a mortal and have children by mortal women, much to the annoyance of his wife Hera. One of those children was, as you may recall, Heracles. The Roman God Mars (Greek Ares), was also busy - Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome, were his children by a mortal woman. Goliath too was a result of such a match (at least according to one interpretation).
Stories about Nephilim (fallen angels, not giants, as in the popular interpretation), who survived the Deluge meant to destroy them; Remember when the spies came back to Moses and reported seeing "giants" in the promised land, which greatly alarmed the people, except Caleb and Joshua? Evidence of their existence was allegedly found in North America.
Stories about people "Taken by God"(The book of Genesis and the Book of Enoch);
Stories about people who went up to heaven in a chariot of fire driven by horses of fire (Elijah);
Stories about people who met with UFOs (Ezekiel and chariot);
A description of a nuclear explosion (the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah);
|The Biblical Explanation||The Alien Explanation||The Natural-Scientific Explanation|
|"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fa; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown" (Genesis 6:1-4). 1. Angelic beings ("sons of God") came to Earth, lustfully desiring the attractive daughters of men (Genesis 6:2). 2. They took whomever they chose as wives (Genesis 6:2). 3. This angelic intervention occurred not only before but also after the time of Noah's Flood (Genesis 6:4). 4. The offspring from these unlawful unions were physical giants (Nephalim - "fallen ones" - in the Hebrew) (Genesis 6:4). 5. The fallen angels who committed this sin were incarcerated in Tartarus where they now await judgment (II Peter 2:4 Greek)||There are many unexplained phenomena, or phenomena with mystical or parapsychological explanation, but without proof; Objects and beings behaving not according to the known laws of nature, making their detection and identification very difficult||Many nations around the world have officially or secretly engaged in serious UFO investigations at the governmental or military level, yet the United States government has consistently denied the existence or danger of UFO's and extraterrestrials. Secret government projects involving bizarre and exotic experimental technologies have often been suggested as an explanation for UFO reports.|
Erich von Daniken took this theory one step further. He posed the following hypothetical question: Suppose a helicopter will land in the heart of a jungle, or a desert, dropping off a pilot wearing a helmet and flight overalls. The pilot will meet a group of natives living in complete isolation from the outside world, who have never seen a helicopter in their lives. After the helicopter take off again and disappears, how will the natives, with their limited vocabulary and imagery, describe their encounter with the helicopter? And what if the pilot decides to take one of those natives for a short helicopter ride? Von Daniken's conclusion was simple - the description would sounds like an average description of an encounter with a UFO.
And if you want to know exactly how such an encounter would look like, you should watch Timerider: the venture of Lyle Swan, a Movie in which tough cowboys of the late 19th century Wild West suddenly encounter a late 20th century helicopter.
Von Daniken researched many myths, and based on points of similarity found between them, and on additional findings (some of which turned out to be fabricated), he concluded that all the Gods referred to in ancient mythologies were nothing but travelers from other worlds, or astronauts from outer space, if you will, who left traces in different places on Earth at the same time, disappeared, but promised to return. He published his findings in many books, the first of which, "Chariots of the Gods", was released in 1968.
Meanwhile, this theory is still considered Science Fiction, but in a few tens of generations, when Humanity does venture out into space and spread throughout the galaxy, perhaps that may be the case.
In 1894 Mars was especially close to Earth, and many took the opportunity to conduct observations. Among them was Italian Gioavanni Schiaparelli. He observed patterned straight lines on the surface of Mars, and called them "canali", Italian for channels. Unfortunately, "canali" was mistranslated into "canals", which implied that artificial structures existed on the red planet. This caused a flood of study on Mars, with many scientists expecting to find life there.
1. Flying Saucer or UFO?
The phrase Flying Saucer was coined on April 7th 1950, when renowned journalist Edward Murrow interviewed Kenneth Arnold, an aviator who claimed to have seen nine unusual objects flying in the skies on June 24, 1947, while flying near Mt. Rainer. Arnold claimed in the interview that he was misquoted in the press while trying to describe what he saw. The following is an excerpt from the interview:
Arnold: These objects more or less fluttered like they were, oh, I'd say, boats on very rough water or very rough air of some type, and when I described how they flew, I said that they flew like they take a saucer and throw it across the water. Most of the newspapers misunderstood and misquoted that too. They said that I said that they were saucer-like; I said that they flew in a saucer-like fashion.
Murrow: That was an historic misquote. While Mr. Arnold's original explanation has been forgotten, the term "flying saucer" has become a household word.
For the full interview click here.
Incidentally, Asimov, for instance, created the following distinction between a UFO and a Flying Saucer. A UFO remains unidentifiable because nobody insists on identifying it; When it is identified as an alien spacecraft, it becomes identified, and therefore you can call it a Flying Saucer or any other name identifying it.
2. Close Encounters of the… Kind
A sighting of one or more unidentified flying objects: Flying saucers Odd lights Aerial objects that are not attributable to known human technology
An observation of a UFO, and associated physical effects from the UFO, including:
Heat or radiation
Damage to terrain
Human paralysis (Catalepsy)
Interference with engines or TV or radio reception.
Lost Time: a gap in one's memory associated with a UFO encounter.
An observation of what J. Allen Hynek termed "animate beings" observed in association with a UFO sighting. Hynek deliberately chose the somewhat vague term "animate beings" to describe beings associated with UFOs without making any unfounded assumptions regarding the beings' origins or nature. Hynek did not necessarily regard these beings as "extraterrestrials" or "aliens." Additionally, Hynek further expressed discomfort with such reports, but felt a scientific obligation to include them, at the very least because they represented a sizable minority of claimed UFO encounters.
The UFO researcher Ted Bloecher proposed six subtypes for the close encounters of the third kind in the Hynek's scale.
A: An entity is observed only inside the UFO
B: An entity is observed inside and outside the UFO
C: An entity is observed near to a UFO, but not going in or out.
D: An entity is observed. No UFOs are seen by the observer, but UFO activity has been reported in the area at about the same time
E: An entity is observed. But no UFOs are seen and no UFO activity has been reported in the area at that time
F: No entity or UFOs are observed, but the subject experiences some kind of "intelligent communication"
A human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants (not included in Hynek's original close encounters scale).
Jacques Vallee, Hynek's erstwhile associate, argued that a CE4 should be described as "cases when witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality," so as to also include non-abduction cases where absurd, hallucinatory or dreamlike events are associated with UFO encounters.
And so on and so forth…
As in Not Human
As in Not from Earth
1. The Aliens are Coming scenario
2. My Friend the Alien scenario
3. Little Green Men scenario
4. The Alien scenario
5. The Man Who Fell to Earth
6. The Man as an Alien scenario
A person (usually a social misfit – deaf, dumb or minor, which is why at first he is regarded as a lunatic and no one believes him) claims to have seen Aliens/been abducted by Aliens /that Aliens are kidnapping people and taking over their minds/ bodies. He warns against the impending invasion, the establishment tries to shut him up, people start dying, he finds someone who believes him, usually a misfit like him, and together they fight the invaders, defeating them and gaining eternal glory (or not).
See the excellent Invasion of the Body Snatchers (multiple versions)
A person (usually a social misfit – deaf, dumb or minor, or in our specific case, senior) gets up one bright morning to find out that his next door neighbors are Aliens. He decides he must publicly expose their true nature. The establishment or the Aliens, or both, try to shut him up.When he concludes that the establishment is nastier and meaner than the Aliens, he decides to side with them.
See, for instance Cocoon, which ends on a positive note (so much so that someone felt the need to make Cocoon 2), even though it is not a Sci Fi Movie as much than a Movie about the position and the rights of the elderly in modern society.
An Alien (green or gray/small and cute/big and mean/just misunderstood) lands on Earth and tries to make contact with the inhabitants. After several abbortibe attempts, he manages to make contact someone - a social misfit, a child or a lonely woman, who help him find his place on Earth and/or get back home, or thwart his diabolical schemes (if he has any).
The best example of this scenario is also, of course,
In this context I have to mention again "Little Green Men" (episode 8 in season 4 of Star Trek - DS9), where Quark and Rom, the Ferengi brothers, land in Roswell (of all places...) and are considered… well, little green men. It couldn’t be halped, though, since the Ferengi are both little and green ...
Since then, incidentally, it is well establishes that the little men are gray and not green. Even E T was not green.
See "The X-Files" and "Stargate ", two TV shows that highlight the difference between gray and green, and the Movie Starman
A man goes out to space and encounters an Alien/a UFO returning with him to Earth. By the time the true nature of the Alien/UFO is revealed, it's too late.
See the Astronaut’s Wife, and of course the Alien Saga, and 2001.
For more about the Alien and Ripley click here.
Aliens land on Earth to ask for help in saving the dying world, and…
See The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicholas Roeg’s
wonderful version, starring David Bowie, not the '80s remake).
One of the best Science Fiction series of the 80ies, V by Kenneth Johnson, one of the greatest Science Fiction creators in television (Steve Austin, the Bionic Woman and the original Incredible Hulk, starring the late Bill Bixby), featured such an encounter beginning with Aliens landing on Earth, and ending with a heroic war of the few against the colonization attempt of the Aliens. The show failed in Israel and I have it on good authority, as they say, that it was taken off the schedule partly because its time slot was a children’s time, and parents complained bitterly about the eating habits of the Visitors...
The same Kenneth Johnson, incidentally, made in the
'1990s another TV show, Alien Nation, based on a Movie by the same title (22
episodes in the TV show and 5 full-length TV Movies). This show also deals with
Aliens landing on Earth, but describes a society in which the Aliens were
assimilated on Earth (in Los Angeles, where else?) And co-existence, though
tense and fragile prevails between the Alien society and human society.
For more about Kenneth Johnson click here,
There are many such examples in literature and Cinema. Usually, such encounters do not always end well
In the Voyage Home, the fourth in the cinematic Star
Trek Franchise, Chekhov is considered an Alien.
Insurrection, the ninth in the cinematic Star Trek franchise, begins with the crew of the Enterprise camouflaging themselves in order to observe an unsuspecting civilization undisturbed, until Data freaks out and exposes them.
In the episode Who Watches the Watchers, Troi and Riker go down to the surface of a planet with a primitive civilization. In order not to contaminate the civilization, they disguise themselves and use a sub-dermal transmitter instead of carrying a communication device, which could be detected by the natives. Riker is exposed and identified as an Alien.
The members of Stargate SG-1 are often regarded as Aliens (at least in the seventh season of the show...) and do not understand why...
For the final report click here.In December of 1984, Jamie Shandera, (pronounced JAY-mee SHAN-dehr-ay) a Los Angeles television producer, received a manila package on his doorstep. Terms
People's Online Conferences: "I think there are things going on out there that we'll never know and might not believe. I wake up every morning and read the paper. I'm never disappointed..."So is that a yes or a no? David Duchovney, in contrast, stated once that he doesn't believe so many people can keep such a big secret for so long. Notes For a detailed article about the events of the Summer of 1947 click here.
A conspiracy theory also evolved around the lunar landing, which to this very day there are those who claim that it never happened, and that the whole thing was staged. Fox TV Network even presented recently some alleged evidence for this - the relatively good quality image in spite of the radiation and the heat, the lack of stars in the background, the shadow of the flag facing opposite side, and the flag which apperas to be flapping in spite of the absence of wind on the moon.
And it came to the point that in 2001, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, was accused of assaulting a man who demanded that he denies the whole lunar landing episode, and in 2002 NASA was forced to cancel the publication of a book refuting this conspiracy theory, fearing that the very publication of the book will give it credibility...
The Movie Capricorn 1, made in 1978, described one possible way of staging the hoax (maybe) and the way it was exposed. Although the Movie described a manned mission to Mars, which is still in the realm of science fiction today, the principle is similar. There were those who even accused renowned director Stanley Kubrick of staging the hoax (in collaboration with the CIA, of course) and claimed that he used the same technology in his movie "2001". Kubrick, by the way, passed away 666 days before a year 2001 (if that means anything to anybody...)
The assassination of a senior politician, especially a president, is a fertile ground for the growth of a conspiracy theory.See the assassinations of president John Kennedy, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, in Israel, the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Note the following information I received by Email. If you can identify the source, you are more that welcome (please, please!) to update. As for names, facts and dates, which are quoted here, I believe they are all true and authentic. As for the contexts and the interpretations - you be the judge,
Elected to Congress
No. of letters in Last name
There are some high profiles Movies, not necessarily of the Sci Fi Genre. that deal with such conspiracy theories,:
Oliver Stone's JFK
Movies made about the assassination of RFK
Enemy of the State
And note the following pearl of wisdom, which is probably a hoax:"In the 11 day of the 9 month that... two metal birds would crash into two tall statues... in the new city... and the world will end soon after" Notes For a Popular Mechanics article which takes this conspiracy theory apart and debunks it claim by claim click here.
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
(From the Book of Genesis, Ch. 11)
In the beginning, all the people on Earth spoke one language, and obviously they didn't need translators. They understood each other perfectly. This mutual understanding led to the first major public works project in the Bible - the construction of the Tower of Babylon (The origin of the name is the Hebrew word BALAL, which means confuse, confound...), but for some reason, God felt so threatened by this project that he decided to punish them not by simply destroying the Tower, but by confounding their language, which brought forth confusion and misunderstanding into the world...
And the need for translators was created.
In every Sci Fi book or movie (or series, for that matter), there comes a time when the writer is forced to deal somehow with the dilemma of understanding the language of an alien species. What will a Human and an Alien say to each other - that is, after "I Come in Peace" or "Take me to your Leader"? How will they communicate? In other words, what do you do when you need to resolve problems of communication between two different species? Here the imagination can run rampant…
In the Q&A section of the official Stargate website, the following original answer appears to the question of how all the Aliens speak the King's English:
The time constraints of an hour-long episode mean that it would become a major hindrance to the story each week if SG-1 had to spend the first 10 minutes of each episode learning to communicate with a new species.
When a frustrated creative consultant is desperately trying to make a popular Sci Fi show a little more realistic and believable, this is the result:
MARTIN: Whoa, whoa, whoa. What is that?
PROPS GUY: It's fruit. Scene 23.
MARTIN: Okay, scene 23 takes place on another planet. You think aliens eat apples?
PROPS GUY: Why not? They speak English.
(Stargate SG-1, Wormhole Xtreme!)
No wonder the show was cancelled after the first episode...
Of course, that also goes for full-length feature films, and you have to admit that it makes perfect sense...
The common scientific theory is that the solution to the communications problrm will somehow be based on mathematics. In many popular Sci Fi movies, from the "Jurassic Park" series to "Independence Day", it is the mathematician, and not the linguist, the anthropologist or even the historian, who deciphers the language of aliens, whether they are dinosaurs or aliens from outer space. In this context, watch out for actor Jeff Goldbloom, holder of the world record for portraying scientists in general and mathematicians in particular in Sci Fi movies.
Two noteworthy attempts based on scientific principles are:
The disk carried by Voyager 1 and 2
In the 70' and the 80' (of the 19th Century...), the outer planets of our solar system, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (the last one, Pluto, was discovered only in 1930), aligned in a rare formation which repeats itself only once in about 175 years. This formation shortens the flight time between the planets and saves a lot of time and energy, because it enables spacecrafts to take advantage of the gravity of the planets. The flight time to Neptune, for example, is cut short, from 30 years to 12.
Voyager 2 was launched on 20.8.1977, and Voyager 1, her twin sister, was launched on 5.9.1977, to a shorter and faster orbit. Their primary mission was to investigate the four outer planets and their moons. But besides, each carried a disk containing different kinds of music, a variety of natural sounds (animals, etc.) and man-made sounds (from a train to a kiss), and recordings of greetings in 154 human languages, all designed to be understood by other intelligent life forms.
Ostensibly a message in a single language would have been preferable and easier to understand, but it was decided to select multiple languages in order to emphasize the variety and the commonality between the participants in this huge human enterprise.
The material, by the way, was selected by a committee headed by renowned astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan, which was given six months to complete the compilation of the disc.
(Image 23, Source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=555)
The plaque carried by Pioneer10 and 11
Pioneer 10 was launched on 2.3.1972, and made first contact with Jupiter was on 3.12.1973. It is the first spacecraft ever to send images from the huge planet, the first Spacecraft ever to cross the asteroid belt, and the only spacecraft to fly counter-clockwise from the sun, or "upstream", if you will. It boasts being the farthest-reaching man-made object in the solar system (8 billion miles). It continued to broadcast data until 27.4.2002, and a last faint signal from it was received on 10.1.2003
Pioneer 11 was launched on 5.4.1973 following its twin sister. Its last signal was received on 30.9.1995, and all contact with it was lost forever. It is currently believed to be on its way to the Eagle Nebula, to the north-west of Sagittarius, and is expected to pass by one of the Nebula's stars in 4 million years.
But of all the scientific instruments that the twin Pioneer sisters were heavily laden with, the most interesting one is actually a small golden plaque attached to both of them. This plaque is supposed to be the key to the contact with intelligent life forms in space, if and when they should encounter such life forms. The plaque is designed so that every creature with basic scientific knowledge of the behavior of hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, will be able to understand the message. It was designed by Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr. Frank Drake, and was drawn by it Linda Salzman Sagan (Sagan's second wife, and an artist, writer and screenwriter in her own right).
(Image 22, source)
How interesting, by the way, that Sagan, the eternal skeptic, the man who did not believe in extraterrestrials, aliens, time travel and so on, devoted all his life to blazing a trail to the stars, and is one of the people who contributed the most to our knowledge of the universe and to turning astronomy into a popular science. And maybe, just maybe, thanks to the disc and the plaque that he helped design, the dream of contacting intelligent life forms in outer space will one day become a reality. And come to think of it, the disc and the plaque might serve as a space-age version of the Rosetta Stone, and for the exact same purpose...
But is the answer really to be found in the realm of science and mathematics? Since language and mathematics follow two entirely different systems of logic, the answer might not be that simple
It is generally agreed that just like mathematics, music has built-in universally understood elements.
In one of the most successful Sci Fi Movies ever, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", music, or more specifically, a five note combination, was used as the key to making contact with the alien spacecraft. How exactly that five note combination was achieved remains unclear.
A combination of music and mathematics as a way of making contact with an alien species was also seen in the ST-Enterprise episode "Vox Sola" ("Lonely Voice").
And speaking of music, how can we forget the hilarious "Mars Attacks!", in which music was actually the weapon that destroyed the alien invaders - or rather, a particular piece of music (If I'm not mistaken, it was a duet by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy...) which brings to mind the bitter cry of Mama Morticia in "the Adams Family Values", "Pastel?!" meaning as corny and cliché as can be...
When everything else fails, the most common solution to the communication problem is the trusty Universal Translator, or UT, available in many varieties. The Universal Translator may be considered as an advanced form of machine translation, but how does it work, and more importantly, when? It is unclear. I'm afraid I haven't been able to find out who deserve the credit for this obviously unpatented invention, and I couldn't get the specifications for the wonderful device itself, mentioned in countless TV shows and movies, including "Men in Black". If you know, you are welcome to share.
"The universal translator has its limits."
(Worf, about the UT, Evolution)
Cochrane: What's the theory behind this device?
Kirk: There are certain universal ideas and concepts common to all intelligent life. This device instantaneously compares the frequency of brainwave patterns, selects those ideas and concepts it recognizes, and then provides the necessary grammar.
Spock: Then it simply translates its findings into English.
Cochrane: You mean it speaks?
Kirk: With a voice, or the approximation, of whatever the creature is that's sending it. Not 100% efficient, of course, but nothing ever is.
Douglas Adams's Babel Fish, of course, can also be considered a variation of the UT. It enables anyone who slips it into their ears to understand all but the most complicated languages:
"...It feeds on brainwave energy not from its carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them.
The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish…"
(From: The Hitch Hiker's Guide to Galaxy)
For more information click here.**link**
But the question is, will machine translation itself ever do the trick? Will the machine ever replace the human translator or interpreter, just like it has made many other professions obsolete in the past? I think not, because we are still a long way from duplicating the mechanism behind the process that goes on in the brain when we switch languages. It's not just about "replacing the disk", it involves installing a whole new operating system, and everybody knows what happens when you try to upgrade an operating system. So far, all the attempts to develop reliable translation software have met with very limited success - even the best of them will not give you more than 50 percent accuracy, and that's a generous estimate. So as a translator (as opposed to a chess player...), I wouldn't be too concerned about being replaced by a machine. Or to quote from the Babylon website, "The Text Translation service returns translations that have been automatically translated by state-of-the-art technology. However, today's most sophisticated text translation software does not approach the fluency of a native speaker or possess the skill of a professional translator. Machine translation is not accurate as the meaning of words depends upon the context in which they are . Because of this, accurate translation requires an understanding of the context, as well as an understanding of the structure and rules of the language. While many engineers and linguistics are working on the problem, it will be some time before anyone can offer a quick and seamless machine translation experience. In the interim, we hope the service we provide is useful for most purposes."
And will the UT help a Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese understand each other? Or will the Internet become the new UT? And after a few generations of relative isolation, will the Australian, the British and the American find themselves in need of this wonderful device? If King David came back to life in our time, would he have been able to compose another Psalm? All that remains to be seen.
Another common solution is to use Gibberish (and add subtitles in English, or any other language...)
Of course, that might not always work when it comes to dealing with written texts...
The creators of the TV series "the Rockford Files" hired two Israeli actors, Reuven Bar-Yotam and Aaron Ipale, to play Eastern European gangsters in one of the episodes. The "Eastern European" language they spoke was... Hebrew, appearently considered foreign and unfamiliar enough to be considered an Eastern European language, which does not indicate a high regard to the issue by the creators of the series.
There have been many serious attempts to develop a universal language, based on principles shared by all intelligent creatures, wherever and whoever they are. An interesting case in point is the Esperanto language, which was conceived and developed as a language of international communication, and more precisely as a universal second language. The creator was Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Jewish ophthalmologist born in the former Russsian Empire. Zamenhof claimed he created this language in order to foster harmony between people from different countries.
In the world of Science fiction and fantasy there are many cases where the creators took the time and the trouble to develop a completely new language. Most of those attempts met with limited success, and sometimes the result was actually quite ridiculous, but there were cases in which the made-up language developed and gained an independent life of its own.
Star Trek and the Klingon language
The Klingon language is an example of a language which has developed to the point that we can even ask the four Passover Questions (Arba Ha'kushiot) in Klingon. The Inventor of the Klingon language and the editor of the Klingon-English Dictionary is, by the way, Mark Okrand.
In the Star Trek universe, little bits of Bajoran are also mumbled here and there; In the TNG episode "Little Green Men" we hear for the first time some Ferengi. We also learn a little Vulcan, and some other more obscure alien languages.
In the DC Comics fictional universe, Interlac is the designated communication language of the 30th century United Planets. In its basic form it is a simple one-to-one substitution cipher. The Interlac alphabet (codified by writer Paul Levitz and artist Keith Giffen in Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 2) #312 (June 1984)) corresponds perfectly to the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet and the numbering system corresponds to Earth Base-Ten form. Although nominally protected by differences in font spacing, the numbering system itself suffers from a minor stylistic flaw due to the potential for confusion of 6 and 7 with 41 and 42, respectively. Anyone writing it by hand could certainly introduce an error when read by another, and this could create problems with handwriting recognition, as well. As the official U.P. language, Interlac is taught in schools throughout the system and is the common form of communication between most sentient United Planet races (After "Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #1" - DC Comics 1988).
The first reference to Interlac as the "intergalactic universal language of the 30th century" was in Adventure Comics #379 published March, 1969. It was also frequently referred to in the Super Friends comic book series (in which all of the Super Friends, including Wendy and Marvin, speak it) as a token explanation of how the Super Friends could understand the language of visiting and/or invading extraterrestrials.
In Babylon 5, a futuristic international language, Interlac, is also used, normally only in first contact situations, because it is easily translateable (due to the fact that it is a based on pure mathematics), until such a time as a more common understanding between two new species becomes available. In one case, during an encounter with an unknown alien species, the ships' computers downloaded the language files from each other and translated them. So we have a combination of the UT, the machine translation and the invented language methods. However, the common commerce language on the station is still English. However, Alien inhabitants of the space station carry translation devices. Vorlon ambassador Kosh has a translation device in his suit, and the lights in the suit blink when he speaks (English, of course).
Tolkien and Sindarin
An Elf, a Hobbit, a Human and a Dwarf walk into a bar…
No, this is not the beginning of a bad joke. In JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth, Humans, Hobbits, Dwarves and Elves presumably each have their own language. Tolkien, an expert in ancient Icelandic and other northern European languages, created Sindarin, an Elvish language, or Elven-tongue, based on the Welsh language - and yet, when Aragorn, Frodo, Gimly and Legolas get together, they all seem to understand each other without the help of translators, which means they also speak a common language -"Middle Earthian", perhaps?
For more details about Sindarin, including vocabulary and grammar, click here.
George Orwell and Newspeak
A different kind of a fictional language, called Newspeak, plays a major role in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is not totally made up, since it is closely based on English, It was created by the totalitarian regime of Oceania and its ruling Party, with the aim of turning speech in to an automatic, mechanic process, instead of a mental process originating in the brain, thus making all opposition to the Party impossible to rationalize, and making alternative thinking—"thoughtcrime", or "crimethink" in the newest edition of Newspeak - impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on.
Incidentally, Orwell's experience with the Esperanto language (see below) in 1927 may have contributed to the development of Newspeak.
The Stargate universe
In the Stargate universe, on the other hand, we hear some Jaffa, and also some Unas and Ancient, both still undeveloped and with a very limited vocabulary (not for lack of trying by Daniel Jackson).
King and the Dark Tower - High Speech
King created a language for his characters, known as the High Speech. Examples of this language include the phrases Thankee, Sai ("Thank you, Sir/Ma'am.") and Dan-Tete ("Little Savior"). In addition King uses the term Ka which is the approximate equivalent of destiny, or fate.
Ka is a theme derived from the Egyptian model of the soul. The official Dark Tower site (see below) describes it as follows: "Ka... signifies life-force, consciousness, duty and destiny. In the vulgate, or low speech, it also means a place to which an individual must go."
In High Speech, Ka can be considered to be a guide, a destination, but is certainly not a plan - at least, not one that is known to mortals. Ka is not necessarily a force of good or evil; it manipulates both sides, and seems to have no definite morality of its own. To this end, Ka resonates with the concept of Karma.
Similarly, a Ka-tet is a group of people bound together by fate/destiny). This term originated in Egyptian mythology and storytelling and has figured in several other novels and screenplays since 1976. It also appears in King's short story, Low Men in Yellow Coats, in which Ted describes the meaning to Bobby.
In the seventh novel, Susannah Dean, who ends up understanding ka maybe more than Roland himself, concluding that in simple terms, "ka-tet" means family. This a concept frequently used by King, even in books that do not use the terms ka or ka-tet, such as It, The Stand, Desperation, Insomnia, Dreamcatcher, and Duma Key. (See Kurt Vonnegut's "karass").
Because of the importance of ka to the world of King's Dark Tower, many phrases in the High Speech use the word ka, such as:
• ka-babbies: young ka-tet members.
• ka-tet: a group of people bound together by ka.
• ka-mai: ka's fool.
• ka-me: ka's wiseman; the opposite of ka-mai.
• kas-ka: a prophet
• ka-shume: a unique feeling that a ka-tet is destined to break soon.
• te-ka: ka's friend.
• Can'-Ka No Rey: the red fields of none, where the Dark Tower lies.
• tet-ka can Gan: the navel (specifically, the navel of Gan).
• kas-ka Gan: singer of Gan's song/ prophet of Gan.
• ves-ka Gan: Song of the Turtle
Apart from these terms, High Speech doesn't have a very developed vocabulary,
The Stargate universe offers an explanation that has at least a partial scientific basis, according to which all human languages come from a single common origin; An alien parasitic race, known as the Goa'uld, kidnapped people from Earth, performed all kinds of genetic experiments on them and scattered them all over the galaxy, while taking over whole worlds by impersonating Gods of different ancient mythologies. Another race of aliens, friendly ones, known as the Asgard, helps our heroes fight the parasites, disguised as Gods of the Norse mythology (and looking very much like the classical "Grey Aliens", which as one of them admits, are responsible for many abduction and alien autopsy scenarios). So how do you solve the communication problem? You invent Daniel Jackson, archeologist extraordinaire and master linguist, who speaks fluent ancient Egyptian, Goa'uld and Ancient, along with every other ancient language that ever existed, and his replacement and successor Jonas Quinn; Then all you have to do is find the appropriate current human language, and the connection is established.
In the ST-TNG episode "the Chase", it was also suggested that all humanoid races in the galaxy were created as a result of genetic experiments on a single humanoid race it the distant past:
PICARD: So four billion years ago, someone scattered this genetic material into the primordial soup of at least nineteen different planets across the galaxy.
DATA: The genetic information must have been incorporated into the earliest lifeforms on those planets, and then passed down through each generation...
HUMANOID Life evolved on my planet before all others in this part of the galaxy. We left our world, explored the stars, and found none like ourselves. We were alone. Our civilization thrived for ages. But what is the life of one race, compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time? We knew that someday we would be gone. And that nothing of us would survive. So we left you. Our scientists seeded the primordial oceans of many worlds, where life was in its infancy. These seed codes directed your evolution toward a physical form resembling ours -- this body you see before you. Which is, of course, shaped as yours is shaped. For you are the end result. The seed codes also contained this message, which we scattered in fragments on many different worlds. It was our hope that you would have to come together in cooperation and fellowship in order to activate this message. And if you can see and hear me, our hope has been fulfilled. You are... a monument. Not to our greatness, but to our existence. That was our wish. That you too would know life, and would keep alive our memory. There is something of us in each of you, and so, something of you in each other. Remember us...
Actually, this is not so different from Darwin's theory of the origin of the species, or the equally controversial theory suggested by Erich von Daniken (according to which, all the so-called "ancient gods" were actually alien astronauts) as an explanation to the amazing similarities between different and seemingly unrelated mythologies.
And if all Human Races came from a single origin, it would logically follow that there was one common human language, one that we have yet to discover...
Fore more click Mythology **link** or here.
Learning a foreign language has always been a slow and painstaking process even under the best of conditions, but it is still the most logical and likely method of communication. After all, all you need are two essential tools - a grammar book and a dictionary. However, some major complications may occur, especially when either the grammar book or the dictionary is missing.
In the "V" series (the 80ies version), the Visitors, a race of aliens, reptiles disguised as humans, came to earth, supposedly to seek help for their dying planet, in exchange for scientific and technological cooperation. Each of the Visitors was given a predetermined destination on earth and was required to learn the appropriate local language, including Hebrew. One of the Visitors accidentally learned the wrong language, which got him into trouble (including an affair with a cute human waitress...). He was played by actor Robert Englund, better known for his portrayal of Freddy Kruger.
In the novel "the Dispossessed" by Ursula Le Guin, a scientist is sent on a mission to a foreign land, equipped with a grammar book and a dictionary, and is expected to learn the language by himself (which is just one of his problems and not the smallest one).
Note in this context another interesting example - in the movie "the 13th Warrior", it is an "Arab" diplomat (played by actor Antonio Banderas), not an alien, who is required to learn the language of "Nordic Barbarians", and does so with remarkable success.
But even when the alien finally masters the language, in most cases, he is immediately identifiable by his speech, his accent and his vocabulary.
For example, returning to Stargate, when you say to Teal'c "Daniel Jackson", he does not understand the difference between a first name and a last name and continues to call him "Daniel Jackson" (Why? he is not a moron). O'Neill, by the way, is always O'Neill; Carter, on the other hand, is always Major Carter (at least until she was promoted...).
In the movie "Starman", the alien (played by actor of Jeff Bridges) insists on calling the widow whose home he invades "Jennyhayden", and she can't make him understand the difference between a first name and a last name. By the way, the alien had another distinctive alien trait - a delay of half a second between opening the mouth and making a sound. But at least he learned English.
And in the wonderful and unappreciated movie "the Hidden", the Alien, Played by actor Kyle MacLachlan ("I know who killed Laura Palmer"), speaks perfect English, but he just doesn't know how to lie, another essential form of human communication.
Still, fluency in English does not always help, as we have seen in the ST-TNG episode "Darmok", which in my opinion handles the problem of communication between the species just beautifully. Here are some selected excerpts (all rights reserved to the screenwriter).
Dathon – the Alien ( played by the late wonderful Paul Winfield)
D Darmok and Jalad... ..at Tanagra.
P Our situation is similar to theirs. I understand that. But I need to know more. You must tell me more about Darmok and Jalad. Tell me...You used the words, "Temba, his arms wide" when you gave me the knife and the fire. Could that mean "give"? Temba, his arms wide. Darmok. Give me more about Darmok.
D Darmok on the ocean.
P Darmok. Darmok. The ocean. Darmok on the ocean. A metaphor? For being alone? Isolated? Darmok on the ocean. Are you alright?
D Kiazi's children, their faces wet.
P Temba, his arms open. Give me more about Darmok on the ocean.
D Tanagra on the ocean. Darmok at Tanagra.
P At Tanagra. A country? Tanagra on the ocean. An island!
D Temba, his arms wide. Jalad on the ocean. Jalad at Tanagra.
D Jalad at Tanagra. He went to the same island as Darmok. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
P The beast at Tanagra.
Data: The Tamarian ego structure does not seem to allow what we normally think of as self-identity. Their ability to abstract is highly unusual. They seem to communicate through narrative imagery, a reference to the individuals and places which occur in their mytho-historical accounts. It's as if I were to say to you, "Juliet on her balcony".
Crusher: image of romance.
Troi: Exactly. Imagery is everything to the Tamarians. It embodies their emotional states, their very thought processes. It's how they communicate and it's how they think.
Riker: If we know how they think, shouldn't we be able to get something across to them?
Data: No, sir. The situation is analogous to understanding the grammar of a language but none of the vocabulary.
Crusher: If I didn't know who Juliet was or why she was on that balcony, the image alone wouldn't have any meaning.
Troi: Correct. For instance, we know that Darmok was a great hero, a hunter, and that Tanagra was an island, but that's it.
Without the details, there's no understanding.
Data: #9; We have to learn the narrative from which Tamarians draw their imagery. Given our current relations, that does not appear likely.
D Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Ubaya. Ubaya of crossed roads. At Lungha. Lungha, her sky Grey
FO Kadir beneath Mo Moteh.
D The river Temarc in winter.
FO Shaka. When the walls fell.
FO Darmok? Rai and Jiri at Lungha!
D Shaka. When the walls fell.
FO Zima at Anzo! Zima and Bakor!
D Darmok at Tanagra!
FO Shaka! Mirab, his sails unfurled!
D Temarc! The river Temarc. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
PICARD There is a story... A very ancient one. From Earth. I'll try to remember...Gilgamesh. Was a king. At Uruk. He tormented his subjects. He drove them to anger. They cried out -- "Give our king a companion. Spare us his madness." Enkidu. A wildman. Of the forest. Entered the city. They fought in the temple. They fought in the street. Gilgamesh defeated Enkidu. They became friends. Gilgamesh and Enkidu. At Uruk.
DATHON At Uru...
PICARD The new friends went into the desert, where the Great Bull of Heaven was killing men by the hundreds. Enkidu caught it by the tail, Gilgamesh struck it with his sword.
PICARD They were victorious. But Enkidu fell to the ground. Struck down by the gods...And Gilgamesh wept bitter tears, saying, "He who was my companion through adventure and hardships, is gone forever... "
Amazing, isn't? And they even managed to sneak in another well-known myth, Gilgamesh, with a new twist. So what do we need a universal translator for?
By the way, to those who are strangers to the Star Trek universe, Picard, the captain of the starship Enterprise, was also quite an accomplished linguist, historian, archeologist and philosopher. And that very same Picard, a native of France, while visiting his home village in France, speaks English with his French relatives (TNG, Family) - Obviously for the viewers' sake, because no self-respecting Frenchman would have tolerated that...
For more information about the Tamarian language click here.
As I've mentioned above, the self-respecting Alien usually sits in his spacecraft in Earth's orbit for a long time, observing and collecting as much information as possible, including even learning the language (preferably English), before attempting to make contact.
In this context, it is interesting to note that according to Carl Sagan's Contact, the first broadcast from Earth picked up by the aliens was Hitler's opening speech at the Berlin Olympics, on August 1st 1936. Not a really a good start for a dialogue between the species, considering the fact that they did decide to make contact. Imagine what those aliens would think of us, if that was our Rosseta Stone…
Incidentally, those aliens allegedly sent blueprints for building a spacecraft, and here, again, the people who deciphered the blueprints were not linguists, historians or archeologists, but scientists.