Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Messages from space?

For more than fifty years, SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project has listened and watched for signals sent to earth from deep space.

Maybe Deep Space is responding to us! In the last few weeks, meteors and asteroids have come to visit.

Our recent visitors have no connection with SETI, of course. Meteors have bombarded the earth since the beginning, but it does seem the more we learn about the cosmos, the more peril we find.

Asteroids are one of the biggest threats. A lot of people are wrestling with ways to deflect these pieces of rock that are large enough to cause severe damage. It’s probable the dinosaurs went extinct because a large piece of space debris hit North American and formed a crater that we vacation at—the Yucatan Peninsula—65 million years ago.

The worst extinction event discovered so far was the Permian-Triassic about 250 million years ago. It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of all species vanished, so who knows what strange and different species used to live here. In cosmic terms, we’re only renters, Johnnies-come-lately.

Do we have what it takes to handle these visitors, which are really our neighbors? These aren’t even from deep space. Several ideas have surfaced, including shooting them out of their orbits with everything from nuclear bombs to lasers, but these solutions may only result in bunches of smaller meteors hitting us, rather than one large one.

SETI recently ran a contest to name a newly discovered moon of Pluto, and the winner? William Shatner who submitted Vulcan. That’s right, Captain James Kirk of the USS Enterprise won naming rights.

Maybe we can talk to him about a tractor beam to move those looming asteroids away.

In fact, NASA is working to develop these as a way of sample collection for their rovers. And now scientists at the University of St. Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments have developed a miniature tractor beam themselves.

Is the future now?

Michele Drier is the author of the paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles. The five books are available at Amazon and a boxed set of the first four novels is also available at B&N and Kobo. She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mystries and is working on the second in the series, Labeled for Death.