Fraser Cain from Astronomy Cast helps us discuss the Drake Equation and Fermi Paradox, close encounters, alien abduction insurance, the feasibility of several kinds of alien invasions and aliens in the news.

Music: “It Conquered the World” by Sheldon Allman




17 Responses

  1. I once found a david icke book on a park bench. I opened it and looked at a random page, and there was a naked picture of the author. lol

  2. Funnily enough, the “human mutilation” picture depicts the usual cause for cattle mutilation scenes: scavenging animals.

    That particular photo became associated with UFOs and aliens due to what’s known as “Caso Guarapiranga”, or Guarapiranga Case, in which the corpse of 53-year-old Joaquim Sebastião Gonçalves (the “ç” has an “ss” sound) was found in the forest surrounding the Guarapiranga water reservoir in São Paulo, Brazil, in September, 1988. The body’s general condition can be seen in the picture: Joaquim was found missing his eyes, ears, lips, scrotum and internal organs. There were also perforations in the right and left shoulders, left thigh, abdomen and feet.

    Given the shocking nature of the photos in the police file, Revista UFO (a Brazilian monthly magazine) latched on to the pictures and published an article in September, 1993 with the title “Could This Be The Feared Evolution of Cattle Mutilation?”. A follow-up article, titled “Guarapiranga Case – The Debate Continues” was published a year later, and by then the case had already gathered the usual retinue of exaggerated or just plain fake “facts” that usually surround UFO reports.

    The truth eventually came out: scavengers like rats and vultures had caused the mutilations, and many of them had been seen around, over and inside the corpse when it was found. In time, the case itself was discredited, with Revista UFO publishing an errata, but some blogs still republish the headline every now and then.

  3. I have only experienced sleep paralysis once, accompanied by hallucinations.

    I awoke sleeping on my back, unable to move. in my peripheral vision, I thought I saw a white blobbish figure pacing back and forth beyond the foot of my bed.

    What made this experience interesting is that I am very skeptical person, and I don’t believe in ghosts or aliens visiting earth. So my interpretation of this experience was that the white figure I was seeing was my mother visiting my apartment, and the explanation for me not being able to move was because my mother was stacking up a pile of gifts on my bed (on top of my legs), which also explained why she was pacing in and out of the room.

    The excitement of receiving spontaneous gifts seemed to give me an adrenaline rush, which promptly ended the hallucinations and paralysis =(

  4. No mention of the X-Files?! 😉 Surely it’s a great example of an extended conspiracy plot involving Greys, two types of alien, and encounters of the 7th kind! :o) It’s worth watching all the way through to the end, IMHO, because the series without Duchovny were actually pretty good (good storylines), but I felt the final episode lacked something.

    Great episode, guys. Really enjoyable and quite tough in many respects, I think, simply because there is sooooo much material. You guys did a really good job.

  5. Overall, pretty good, but Mr. Cain really needs to spend some time learning about the past 2 billion years or so. I also re-listened to the Near Earth Objects episode, in which he is also a guest, and it seems Mr. Cain does not have a clear idea of what the major events were between the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment (approx. 3.8 billion years ago) and the evolution of modern [i]Homo sapiens[/i] (approx. 100 000 years ago). A couple of anchor points to get him started:
    The rise of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere happened around 1.8 bya, not 200 mya.
    The non-avian dinosaurs went extinct around 65 mya due to the impact of a large Iridum-rich body. This marks the end of the Cretaceous period and the beginning of the Tertiary period, known as the K-T boundary (“C” was already assigned to the Cambrian, starting around 540 mya).

    And the decreasing-radio thing from Slate sounds like utter hogwash. C’mon guys, put on some critical thinking! Do you really think we, as a global society, have been drastically reducing our radio-frequency output? What of GPS signals or other signals between the large numbers of satellites and the ground / each other? What of the proliferation of digital broadcasts in all forms? Just because your old-timey receiver, named, confusingly, a “radio”, cannot translate a coherent signal from that noise doesn’t mean that noise isn’t being produced and broadcast in ever greater abundance. The fact your local FM station has lost 80% of its listenership in the last decade says NOTHING about the cumulative output of MILLIONS of radio-spectrum broadcasters, from Wi-Fi and cellphones to satellite and trans-oceanic communications. We’re pumping out a huge amount of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation, CONSTANTLY.

    And the amount of energy actually transmitted by radio waves that our radio astronomers detect is astonishingly small; modern arrays can detect a signal carrying the energy equivalent of a hydrogen atom farting at 100 paces. We’re not quiet.

  6. the Bugs were capable of intersolar travel at least, because they had at least colonized more planets beyond Klendathu *unless* the Earth Gov deliberately captured and seeded other planets with the Bugs (to kill Mormon colonies, perhaps). However, I also agreed that the notion of blasting plasma at an asteroid so it would fly into Earth is highly unlikely. if it were more like the Bugs were seeding asteroids with their genetic material and then launching it toward planets they somehow sensed as life-supporting, that would have been a bit more understandable, but that wasn’t what was said.

    In the TV series Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles which was sort of a hybrid of the movie and the book, the bugs had engineered massive Carrier Bugs that could fly into space while carrying a swarm of bugs, and also ‘Ice Bugs’ which appeared as comets but were really just a large organism filled with it’s own ecosystem, basically a giant ecocidal generation ship as the organisms within them could mutate any lifeform into a Bug-hybrid creature BORN TO BUUUURN!

    1. I never got the whole hand to hand combat with aliens bit. Don’t you think that if a species can manage interstellar travel, they’d figure out a way to defeat a planet from a distance? Already, most new weapons used by armies are operated remotely, with little danger to the operator – i.e. drones, cruise missiles, laser or GPS guided bombs, artillery that can hit targets 10’s of kms away, etc. Seems like an even more advanced species than ourselves would be able to launch attacks from a distance without risk of harm to themselves. Just sayin’.

  7. I think the great filter idea bight be bunk. There are two assumptions it makes that I find to be a little sketchy. The first is that it seems to rely on the idea that the Universe is infinite, which is all fine and good. But it seems that the idea with a galaxy being colonized in 10,000,000 years is reliant on the _galaxy_ being infinite- the explanation being given that it only takes 1% of an alien being gung ho to get it done. To me, though, the galaxy is a small enough unit that that !% just might not happen. But what really puts the nail in the coffin for me is that this assumes that intelligence is a guaranteed thing. And that kind of unilinear evolutionary thinking makes me very uncomfortable. If life evolves as soon as the conditions are right, but only 1% of 1% becomes intelligent- well, we are that very small sample size.

    It just seems like the whole thing makes so many extreme logical jumps, all of which are based on such a small small small sample size of one planet in the entire Universe. I just think there’s too much guesswork to take any conclusions seriously.

    1. >is reliant on the _galaxy_ being infinite-

      Not really; it assumes that, for a large enough sample size, you are very likely to get any given result. Especially with what we know about planets these days, that’s not a wholly unreasonable assumption- there are a LOT of planets out there, which potentially means a lot of life forms germinating.

      Even taking your 1% of 1% example, we should STILL see intelligent life taking everything over. Keep in mind: many billions of years (including multiple stellar lifetimes) prior to our solar system even existing and hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone. If we even take your example a step further- if 1% of 1% of 1% of all species even bother to get off their asses and go into space, that’s STILL going to fill the whole galaxy in short order by virtue of the enormous sample size. (This is assuming life is not horribly unreasonably common, of course, which we can’t say for certain, but from what little we know so far it admittedly seems like that should be the case- where the conditions come together, life forms relatively quickly.)

      None of the conclusions from any of this guesswork are anything like absolute, of course, but even giving things a very broad leeway the point of the Drake Equation and Great Filter is that, even making some very weak assumptions, it seems like something is wrong out there. I’m enough of an optimist that I’m not sure I buy the “unavoidable interminable catastrophe that will utterly destroy us all” idea, but it certainly implies that there is SOMETHING that we are missing in the whole picture.

  8. You didn’t really put a fence around the topic in this episode as you often do. A number of topics were discussed that could easily be separate shows (and I hope they will be!). Talking about Aliens didn’t require wandering into Unidentified Flying Objects, Abductions, Animal and/or Human Mutilation, Crop Circles or other related topics. Please consider doing shows on some of these other topics. That is all.

  9. Excellent and entertaining show, guys. Just one quick note, in case anyone is interested in those books featuring scouring alien robots called Berserkers mentioned by Fraser: he got the wrong Fred, Frederik Pohl is well worth reading (especially his Heechee novels), but the Berserker series was written by Fred Saberhagen. Again, well worth the read.