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All Quotes by author - Seth Shostak
" About the only things that are unique to Earth are our biota and our culture. If aliens ever come here, they'd most likely be either biologists or music fans. Neither one has much reason to antagonize our armed forces. "
" According to 'Star Trek' mythos, Starfleet Command - operational headquarters for a flotilla of craft that keep the cosmic peace - is located in San Francisco's Presidio, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge (still carrying traffic, even in the 23rd century). "
" A century ago, scientists believed there was only one obvious stomping ground for alien biology in our solar system: Mars. Because it was reminiscent of Earth, Mars was assumed to be chock-a-block with animate beings, and its putative inhabitants got a lot of column inches and screen time. "
" Admittedly, it would take industrial-grade chutzpah and a massive dose of malevolence for anyone to bulldoze the spot where Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle lander. But even innocent visits could be damaging. "
" A factory that can turn carbon nanotubes into a sheet a yard wide and long enough to stretch one-fourth of the way to the moon is not something you'll find at your local industrial park. That's the show-stopper for the space elevator. The ribbon. "
" America's popular heroes have seldom been its great thinkers, and even less its scientists. The success of TV's 'Big Bang Theory,' which seems to give the lie to this claim, is more the exception that proves the rule. "
" Any beings advanced enough to traverse interstellar distances are at least a thousand years beyond our technical level. Spending gobs of time examining our missiles is equivalent to sending the Air Force back to the Middle Ages and insisting they examine the chain mail factories. "
" Any society that could come here could pick up the lights from New York. What should we do about that? Should we darken New York from now until the last human expires? Would we want to turn off all the radars at JFK airport? "
" A practical way to travel between the stars is a must-have for space opera, and a sine qua non for our frequently vaunted future as a galactic society. "
" Are two eyes, four appendages and an upright posture really essential for any creature that can ace the galactic SAT's? Maybe not. In fact, I'd venture that any aliens we ever detect or (less likely) encounter will look quite different than this self-referential stereotype. "
" Are we the only members of the Galaxy that can actually understand what a galaxy is? Could Homo sapiens really be the pinnacle of Creation - the cleverest critters in the cosmos? If we learn the answer is 'no,' that would affect our philosophies forever. "
" As far as I can tell, the only unambiguous consequence of the claimed invasion of Earth by beings from another star system has been a nonstop torrent of TV specials. So if you're one of the many who believe the aliens are here, you really do have to admit this: They're the best houseguests ever. "
" Astronomers still can't decide what the shape of our universe is. Is it closed and finite, which is to say, is there a countable tally of all the galaxies that exist, even beyond the ones we can see? Or is it infinite? The latter possibility is still on the table. "
" 'Battleship' is not a film that Francois Truffaut would have made. Nor would any of those other namby-pamby European directors. Nope, this picture eschews that Continental obsession with small stories, set in quaint towns filled with pockmarked folk doing their banal things. "
" Buying insurance is no one's idea of fun. And it's especially easy to berate something as funky-sounding as writing checks to defend our neighborhoods against apartment-size rocks from space. But this is one insurance pitch that makes perfect sense. Ask the dinos. "
" By 2020, most home computers will have the computing power of a human brain. That doesn't mean that they are brains, but it means that in terms of raw processing, they can process bits as fast as a brain can. So the question is, how far behind that is the development of a machine that's as smart as we are? "
" Certainly the history of astronomy shows that every time we thought we were special, we were wrong. "
" Charles Darwin sailed around the world for two years on the 'Beagle,' and he had quite a bit of interest in things like the iguanas of the Galapagos, even though they were primitive compared to your average Englishman. "
" Clearly, enriching the cosmos with heavy elements takes a while. So there's inevitably an interval between the sterile aftermath of the Big Bang and a time when the cosmic chemistry set had enough ingredients to make rocky planets (and squishy biology). "
" Clearly, unless thinking beings inevitably wipe themselves out soon after developing technology, extraterrestrial intelligence could often be millions or billions of years in advance of us. We're the galaxy's noodling newbies. "
" Consider: Life arose on Earth close to four billion years ago. Four billion years of slithering, swimming, and soaring life forms. But only in the last 200 thousand years has a species arisen that can fathom the laws of nature and build hardware able to signal its presence. "
" Consider that the overwhelming majority of those 40,000 near-Earth asteroids are small enough to fit on the parking lot at the mall. And while these rocky runts won't cause Armageddon, they could still flatten such popular hominid hangouts as Manhattan or downtown Des Moines. "
" Consider: The human genome consists of about 3.3 billion base pairs. Since there are only four types of pair, that amounts to 0.8 gigabytes of information, or about what you can fit on a CD. With a microwave radio transmitter, you could beam that amount of information into space in a few minutes, and have it travel to anyone at light speed. "
" Data from orbiting telescopes like NASA's Kepler Mission hint that the tally of habitable planets in our galaxy is many billion. If E.T.'s not out there, then Earth is more than merely special - it's some sort of miracle. "
" 'Dating Game' wasn't social commentary, political analysis, Shakespearean-level drama or even blunt-force comedy. It was just the televised equivalent of meeting someone at a bar. But it appealed to our most basic Darwinian instinct: selecting a good mate. You can't go wrong when a show's premise is hard-wired into human DNA. "
" Despite tantalizing suggestions of fossilized microbes in meteorites, puzzling and possibly biogenic methane gas in the martian atmosphere, and a long-standing controversy over the Viking lander experiments of nearly 40 years ago, there's still no Exhibit A that points unequivocally to biology in our own back yard. "
" Despite the impression you may have from watching too much TV, movies are not about reproducing reality. They're about telling stories. "
" Diminutive worlds are more likely to be rocky, and lapped by oceans and atmospheres. In the vernacular of 'Star Trek,' these would be M-class planets: life-friendly oases where biology could begin and bumpy-faced Klingons might exist. "
" Disasters happen. We still have no way to eliminate earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods or droughts. We cope as best we can by fortifying ourselves against danger with building codes and levees, and by setting aside money to clean up afterwards. "
" Each year, thousands of UFOs are sighted and reported, which is an impressive tally of unidentified aerial phenomena. Surveys show that roughly one-third of the populace believes that at least some of this sky show is due to extraterrestrial spacecraft, here to probe our airspace and, when that proves boring, our bodies. "
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