Saturday, June 14, 2008

We come for your women...and Cool Ranch Doritos

This is my favourite story of the month so far. Let's say you're a very expensive scientific array and you're perpetually in need of funding. Your usual sources of government funding are beginning to dry up. What do you do?

Well, if you're EISCAT, you apparently go looking for advertisers. And since sticking logos on giant dishes really isn't going to do the trick, especially if you're located in the arctic, you do the next best offer to beam signals into space for a fee. And not just randomly into space, but at a relatively nearby solar system that scientists have said might have the right conditions to host alien life.

My only question is, why did they have to pick Doritos?

Yes, for an undisclosed some of money, Doritos beamed a signal to a solar system that might have alien critters. I got this originally from Warren Ellis and I really do agree with his assessment....on the off chance there is alien life out there in the universe (and I think there is), is a Doritos ad really the way we want to introduce ourselves? Yes, I know there's enough signal noise coming off the planet in the past 75 years or so that most of it is embarrassing. If aliens ever show up and want to meet Paris Hilton, I may kill myself, assuming they're not here to kill us all because of Paris Hilton.

But there's just something extra...tacky...about directing advertising at a specific solar system that might have an outside chance of hosting alien life.

There's also the matter that I hadn't dwelled on much before....which is do we really want anything that might be out there to notice us. Yes, I've seen Independence Day and a dozen other alien invasion flicks, but you never take the actual possibility all that seriously. However, when we've reached the point of beaming Doritos ads into space, maybe it's time to take it a bit more seriously. I enjoy that there is a San Marino scale assessing the risk of actively sending signals out to attract the attention an alien species. Right now SETI is just listening, but we're not doing much in the way of actively trying to attract attention. You know, other than launching Doritos ads into space.

Because you never know what might out there listening....and be hungry. And if it's in the mood for cheap snacks, well here's hoping they just come for the Doritos. But I kind of doubt they will.

Last Five
1. Roosterspur bridge - Tori Amos
2. Broken boy soldier - The Raconteurs
3. Harbour LeCou - Great Big Sea
4. Three little indians - Mark Bragg*
5. Pistol of fire - Kings of Leon

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