Blood and Mud
Thud. Crack. Thud. The whistles and drones of the artillery whooshing overhead were nauseating. Whilst they had long ago become familiar sounds, they had never become comforting ones. Relatively new sounds to a battlefield, it was the power and quantity of these weapons that was unprecedented. Impacts that were detonating hundreds of metres beyond the wire were strong enough to shake the Earth into liquid sludge underneath the feet of the hundreds of men crammed into thin cutaways scaring the ground. The enemy returned the barrage with their own. These impacts buckled the knees of any lucky enough not to be caught in the concussive blasts. What little fauna remained in the churned up landscape fled. I wished I could flee with them.
When it comes to thinking about first contact scenarios we tend to default to imagining humanity versus a more advanced alien race. Typically this comes in the form of massive spaceships orbiting the earth, hovering above our cities and counting down the hours until they attack. It’s the Independence Day scenario, or more recently Arrival, a film that gives this trope a new, more conscientious spin. In Arrival the Septopods arrive on Earth, and it is us who are on the brink of hostility towards them, rather than them being a clear threat to us. In the film Avatar, it is us who are the more advanced race, and while we don’t see our first contact scenario with the Navi, it is this angle that I want to explore; human supremacy over the other; a scenario that we have actual evidence to draw from.
Fog of War
The ground shuddered with each and every impact of the morning's bombardment. The number of shells hitting the enemy line was so immense that each thud merged with the next, each crack of the detonations became one endless sound. The wet mud of the trenches vibrated, the ripples hitting one another, loosening the caked walls of the trench.
Alien invasions of Earth have been a staple of science fiction storytelling since H.G. Wells. From then to today we have had stories of humanity versus an alien threat retold to us in many different ways. Many of us have almost always enjoyed these forays into human nature, but sometimes there is just something missing. There are occasions when the writers display a lack of thought into the science behind alien motivations in favour of a romp through science-fiction tropes, but to some of us—myself included—the science behind the whys and wherefores are just as important as the narrative on the whole.One of the most common reasons we see in fiction for aliens invading the Earth is territory; the act of taking our home world for themselves, wiping out us pesky natives in the process. On the surface, this seems to be a logical reason for the launching of an invasion and a believable one. Let's put aside the idea of using science-fiction as an analogue to explore real issues for a moment, and we can see this concept start to unravel. How? It comes down simply to the level of technology these aliens can employ. They're putting together an invasion force, and constructing the machines and/or equipment needed to do so. They also must have ships that are capable of transporting an entire population insanely long distances. Clearly, if they can put the resources into something like this and have the tech available to sustain themselves on such a journey, why would they not look at the prospect of space habitats? Is there a particular reason that they're unable to colonise a slightly less suitable world such as we are planning to do onMars.It would be far less effort for them to construct their own colonies in space or on worlds where the natives won't be a problem.
Is Our Universe Ours?
Almost everything we have ever discovered has turned out to be not the only example. Be it dinosaurs or suns we have found multiple examples of it. There was a time, however, where the Sun was not only considered to be the centre of things (quite the advancement of previous beliefs) but the only example of such a thing; just like Earth was considered to be the only world. Later we knew stars were other suns and some of the obvious moving bodies in the solar system were other worlds. Now we know that other suns have worlds of their own. Some may very well be like ours; in fact, given the astronomical numbers involved this is a given.
One of the first sci-fi books I ever read was Rendevzous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. I was only about twelve years old, and it left a lasting impression. My imagination has been running overtime for the better part of twenty years because of it; after all, what would it be like to have an extraterrestrial object ploughing through our solar system? What would that mean for mankind?
Relativistic Kill Vehicle
Warfare is constantly progressing, constantly changing. During World War II we pitted troops against each other on great fields of war in ways in which we haven’t seen since. Modern battles are fought with drones, smaller skirmishes and strike teams, surgical and careful. The concept of a Relativistic Kill Vehicle (or RKV), in some ways, it’s just the natural progression of warfare. Leaving the stone age, we developed weapons that took advantage of our newfound ability to manipulate metals. Later, we had a revolution as our understanding of chemistry grew and we realised we could use chemical reactions to propel projectiles. It’s foolish to think that the space age won’t do the same, despite our best efforts to keep space weapons free: The Outer Space Treaty bars placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the moon, or on or around any other celestial body, or stationing them in outer space in any capacity.
- Top Story - October 2017
The Kardashev ScaleTop Story - October 2017
Nikolai Kardashev is a little known Russian astrophysicist—certainly in regards to the current phenomena of science-related pop-culture icons, but despite this, some of his ideas have seeped in through the cracks. If the layman recognises his name at all, it won't be for the work that he put into examining the quasar CTA-102, but for the more theoretical exercise of developing what we now know as the Kardashev Scale. Even if you're not familiar with its name, there's a chance that you'll know a bit about its substance: Nikolai proposed the idea that some galactic civilisations would be possibly millions—even billions—of years ahead of us in regards to technology, and developed a scale in order to help with the categorisation of any civilisations that we may come across, or possibly fit into ourselves.