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back to article Engineers write defence against aliens manual

A group of American aerospace engineers have written a book on how to defend the earth against alien invasion. Travis Shane Taylor, Bob Boan, Charles Anding and T Conley Powell hold a variety of PhDs and other degrees in hard sciences and technology. All have worked on weapons and aerospace programmes for defence contractors, …

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Anonymous Coward

Why ?

Well I have no intention of fighting...

I welcome our new lizard overlords!

Considering how humans have operated over the last 2000 years how could it be worse ?

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Do they....

take into consideration the fact that any race advanced enough to have travelled light years to invade our little patch of green & blue would presumably also have some pretty nifty weapons which would wipe us all out in the blink of an eye?

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No chance

eyh, I am sure the Cylons will have far less trouble with our alreadly vulnerable defence systems running second rate OSs with default passwords left in place, than they did with Caprica's.

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Why would they bother with fancy weapons?

Nice simply kenetic energy is all any invader would need.

Given they would have to have travelled several light years to reach us, a short trip to the asteroid belt on the way in isn't going to be an issue.

And if anyone has a good idea on how to stop an orbital bombardment of several thousand rocks raining down on us I'd really like to hear it.

It comes down to the same old choice - either we have to hope we are alone in the galaxy at this time, or that anyone else out there is a lot nicer than we are!

(or perhaps as just as bad as us and consider the planet earth the very latest in reality TV - but thats just far too sick to contemplate)

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End of story

mmmm interesting.......

but how much of this book assumes that the invaders will be carbon based, oxygen breathers intent on conquest, colonisation and, possibly, enslavement of these puny humans?

NOT the nasty alien types from Independence Day intent on stripping the planet of resources.

Simon is correct, but they don't have to stop at the asteriods. We got a big rock swinging around us once a day. A few miners on that baby and they can throw all the rocks they want.

Goodbye humans, goodbye Earth and goodbye stupid book.

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And if we give up...?

http://www.angryflower.com/cookie.html

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Who bother with thousands?

A few really big ones into the oceans and tsunamis would circle the earth many times. Couple that with a few big ones onto each continent and that'll pretty much wipe out everything, job done, home in time for Single Female Lawyer re-runs.

"I vote the defendant vulnerable yet spunky!"

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Silver badge

"I welcome our new lizard overlords!"

Mark_T really should keep up.

The delightfully turquoise and almost entirely sane David Icke tells us they've been here for centuries playing the part of Boxcar Willie and the Queen (David doesn't say if these are performed by the same lizard doing a transgalactic Dame Edna Everege / Sir Les Patterson double-bill, but it has to be significant I've never seen photos of the Queen attending a Boxcar Willie concert).

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Hmpf

It's 'sf', not 'sci-fi'. 'Sci-fi' is for TV announcers, literature-snobs and journalists. Oh.

The cheapest way to kill us off would be to simply detonate a series of EM pulses in high atmo. Most of us would starve to death in very short order, and our infrastructure would be left intact. Okay some hardened military stuff would survive, but not enough to worry somebody sat in orbit. If they're at the top of the gravity well and we're at the bottom, we're screwed, simple as that.

Heinlein didn't write the best military sf. That honour goes to Joe Haldeman.

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One civilisation per galaxy... wonderful

Thinking like this that states "that suggests statistics of at least one civilisation per galaxy" always makes me laugh. Taking a single sample and attempting to extrapolate from it is utterly meaningless.

I think it was Douglas Adams that used exactly the same logic and stated that as space is infinite, and as there's a finite number of planets (one) known to have life, one over infinity equals nothing, so there isn't any life in the universe and any that you see is the result of a deranged imagination.

There's also a joke that I can't quite remember but I'll try my best.

Three statisticians were travelling to Scotland. As their train passed over the border, one exclaimed - "Oh look! A black sheep. All the sheep in Scotland are black!"

The second corrected him - "No, all it means is SOME of the sheep in Scotland are black."

The third thought for a while then announced - "You're both wrong. All it means is that at a minimum, there is one sheep in Scotland that is black on one side."

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Asteroids.....hardly nifty

Larry Niven et al had it covered with "Footfall". Nifty alien weapons not really required; just keep slamming asteroids into the Earth from the Kuiper Belt. That should keep those puny humans quiet.

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But then

The problem with Aliens just droping huge asteriods on us is this: it will make the planet pretty unusable to them until all the dust settles (which would take decades IIRC).

Obviously if they don't CARE about having a usuable planet, then they can wipe us out pretty easily, but if the planet isn't much use why bother with us at all?

OTOH While dinosaur-killer (or larger) sized projectiles might not be applicable, I doubt it'd be much fun trying to defend a planet against a enemy who can lob smaller projectiles from high orbit onto any concetration of forces you could muster.... Which in general makes me think that if Interstellar war DOES happen fighting on actual planets would be largely a desparation measure.

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Anonymous Coward

Limited resources

It seems to me that the amount of resources required to reach Earth would be greater than the total of Earth's natural resources. An advanced civilisation would probably have more use for Jupiter, which is enormous, or the Sun itself. Which leads to the possibility that we might have to fight a war to prevent the Sun from being stolen, which is beyond our current means.

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any chance of this happening?

Are there actually any UFO's? aliens? etc.. a guy at work has spent 25mins of his time trying to make me believe its true... is it? or isn't it?

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sounds familiar

To Andy McCruden

"I doubt it'd be much fun trying to defend a planet against a enemy who can lob smaller projectiles from high orbit onto any concetration of forces you could muster.... would be largely a desparation measure."

Guess thats how the locals must feel in various parts of the middle east right now...

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Why would aliens bother?

Sadly, it is difficult to see what reason an alien race would have for attacking Earth, other than exterminating us. Mineral resources are abundant in space, and are far more accessible than the ones at the bottom of Earth's gravity well, and Earth's ecosystem is of no value to a species, which as a result of having evolved elsewhere, is incompatible with it.

Life may be rare, but chances are that potentially habitable planets are much more abundant. Terraforming and bioforming lifeless worlds is a

far more practical method of colonisation than trying to capture existing Earth-type worlds from hostile natives without damaging them.

One cannot escape the conclusion that they really haven't thought about these invasion scenarios very hard.

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They'd bother because the human race is (currently) vermin.

If there were a spacefaring species, it'd be safer and easier to wipe humans out now; rather than to let them get sufficiently advanced enough to trundle about the galaxies stuffing up other planets, in the way they've stuffed up their own.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Dan

Who says they'll use weapons that go bang or zap?

http://www.lronhubbard.org/

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Anonymous Coward

You puny humans!

One word: K-TULHU!

And you have the arrogance to even attempt to think about repelling THEM?

All the details are here:

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.htm

Or, as they sing in the local pub:

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"

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DEMOCRATS Already Surrendered

Senator Harry Reid has already waived the White Flag and they're not even here yet. CongressMAN Nancy Crypt-Keeper Peloci is already wearing Alien garb in an act of capitulation and Sentor Hillary Clinton and Barrak Osama Obama are making speakes in Alien getto accents. "Yo yo what dis, take me to ya'll leader, get down"

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Anonymous Coward

Tongue in cheek?

The possibilities are endless, I just wonder how seriously these guys take themselves. To assume aliens want to "fight" mano a mano on our terms is a bit much. How do we get rid of pests? Most efficiently, of course, especially because there will be limitations due to traveling contraints. Why mess around? Abort the whole lot before they are born to the stars. Destroy the solar system, the planet or make it uninhabitable. A subtle yet simple attack would be a reproductive disease or poison, sooo easy.

Aliens vs the underdogs is a classic theme in SF, especially appealing to science based intellects, the ultimate gaming scenario, a puzzle. I doubt it can ever be exhausted and it plays to masculine archetypes perfectly.

Wouldn't it be better to focus on the reality of human vs human? In all truth, we would be a pushover because of our very real failings within and between ourselves. How about corporate interests versus humanity, ie. pharmaceuticals creating diseases to sell cures? Energy companies vs the environment? How do we defend against that? Is the manual helpful in this case?

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Bronze badge

Re: Why would aliens bother?

...For the ginger, obviously - ask Harry Turtledove!

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Anonymous Coward

Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh my!

Jazz,

"Are there actually any UFO's?"

Yes, a UFO is any object you can't identify that appears to be flying.

"aliens?"

Yes, it is a synonym for 'foreigners.' You know, them, from across the border.

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Pat

the thing about asteroids...

It would require a ridiculous amount of energy to pluck asteroids out of the kuiper belt traveling at cosmic velocities and somehow accelerate them into a direct collision course for Earth.

It seems any society with the capability to harness and precisely use this much energy could come up with more creative ways for (1) attacking Earth or (2) solving their homeworld problems in ways that don't involve traveling billions of miles to our remote rock. Also, why hurl asteroids at Earth, why not just drag Earth back to their galaxy?

Also, mining the moon and tossing chunks towards us would still be a very work intensive activity. To do any real damage the chunks would have to be very large and you'd need to figure a way to project them such that they not only fall to Earth, but could do so at a speed similar to the Dinosaur-era asteroid. Doing any of this again requires immense amounts of energy.

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One civilisation per galaxy... wonderful

Ian Ferguson is right:

> "[we are here] that suggests statistics of at least one

> civilisation per galaxy" : taking a single sample and

> attempting to extrapolate from it is utterly meaningless.

Indeed, but especially so in this case: the sample is not chosen randomly, it's the galaxy where we are already.

I think the label for this is the Anthropic Principle, it's the same idea as when religionists say "it's a miracle that Earth has all this tasty stuff we can eat and nice water and pretty coasts and clement weather and all that, therefore there IS a god" ignoring the fact that if we grew up on a different planet we'd view its slimy spiky plants and beasts as tasty, its acid rainstorms as clement, its views as aesthetically pleasing, &c.

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Jim

Got vinegar?

Do the boffins at NASA have plenty of vinegar on hand? We'll need it if we're going to throw buckets of it on the fat aliens. Why am I reminded of Rosie O Donnell?

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Silver badge

The lizards are not our friends.

Mark_T, if you'd ever watched an 80s TV series called V you'd know by now that lads who welcome the lizard overlords end up being invited to dinner. As the main course.

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Pellegrino's Postulate

In 'Flying to Valhalla' (Valhalla, if you recall, is an afterlife of eternal joyful warfare, to which only warriors are admitted), Dr. Charles Pellegrino reveals all. The predator hypothesis says that any dominant race must have evolved as a predator, and therefore will prefer to pre-emptively attack any threat. It will therefore assume any other technological civilization will have the same impulse. It will therefore strike first; what this means is that it will launch a near-C (~.92 C seems likely) missile or two down the throat of any EM source it detects.

These are planet-busters or at the least eco-busters, and can be detected coming in only by their gamma shock wave. But they follow the shock wave closely; when you see a signal from 1 ly away, the missile is actually (1-.92) = 1/12 of that distance, or 1 light-month. When you see its signal at 5 light weeks, it's about 3 light-days away. When you see it 1 light day away (about 4x as far as the far edge of the Kuiper Belt), it's actually about 2 light-hours out. When you see it 2 light-hours out, it's actually about 5 light minutes away. When you see it 5 light-minutes away, it's actually about 13 seconds away, just enough time to bend over and kiss your ass good-bye!

Our broadcasts are 50-100 ly out by now (depending on what detection threshold you prefer), so any techno-race within 25-50 ly may have launched long enough ago to have their missiles arriving any day, now. Unless, of course, space has been almost completely successfully sterilized for some distance out by one surviving (?) planet. [There won't necessarily be one; since there's no "dodging", two last planets could launch at each other any time within the period between older-society launches and the arrival of those missiles. If younger-society gets its launch away before dying, older is doomed, too.]

So, we are either the last because everyone else has wiped each other out, or our package(s) are in transit, or, we must hope, no one is close enough to have detected us. [This is a faint hope, however. Even a very distant society, if they develop technology before we kill them will likely have plenty of time to launch.] Of course, our only rational course is to tool up our own near-C missiles and get ready to launch as soon as we detect a planet with even the potential to spawn someone like us. If we wait, they might [and in any case will likely] catch up enough to launch before we can get them.

In a universe of paranoid predators, non-paranoia is insanity, you see. If there even MIGHT be such a predator race out there (even just one), we must destroy any civilized or potentially civilized species we detect. So must they. I.e., since detecting EM is far too late for any except nearby planets, we must aggressively search out planets with life and techno-society potential and either sterilize them or knock out any potentially sentient animals that have evolved. So, PASSIVE SETI is very important. Sending signals out is suicide. Only instant pre-emption is safe and sane.

:D

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The paranoia

OMG, since postulate (1) states that we are the only sentient life in this galaxy; and (2) that we are our own greatest threat, then (3) suggests we should spare no effort in wiping ourselves out. Thank you and Good Night.

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A small flaw in the logic

our solar system has intelligent life? could have fooled me

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Kill or be killed

Food for thought in this excellent website about accurate spacerocketeering: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3aa.html#killingstar

Considering the issue of what to do about the neighbours…:

"...We ask that you try just one more thought experiment. Imagine yourself taking a stroll through Manhattan, somewhere north of 68th street, deep inside Central Park, late at night. It would be nice to meet someone friendly, but you know that the park is dangerous at night. That's when the monsters come out. There's always a strong undercurrent of drug dealings, muggings, and occasional homicides.

It is not easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. They dress alike, and the weapons are concealed. The only difference is intent, and you can't read minds.

Stay in the dark long enough and you may hear an occasional distance shriek or blunder across a body.

How do you survive the night? The last thing you want to do is shout, "I'm here!" The next to last thing you want to do is reply to someone who shouts, "I'm a friend!"

What you would like to do is find a policeman, or get out of the park. But you don't want to make noise or move towards a light where you might be spotted, and it is difficult to find either a policeman or your way out without making yourself known. Your safest option is to hunker down and wait for daylight, then safely walk out.

There are, of course, a few obvious differences between Central Park and the universe.

There is no policeman.

There is no way out.

And the night never ends..."

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Simple is always best

If an advanced alien race really were worried about the neighbors getting uppity, they would probably use the tactics of Larry Niven's Pak Protectors: 1. Use a gravity generator (remember... they're advanced!) to create a sufficiently sized cosmological black hole. 2. Deliver said black hole via a small space probe to the opposite side of their annoying neighbor's sun so they'd never detect it and be able to do anything about it. 3. Drop it in and wait a few decades for their sun to begin to collapse and suddenly go nova.

Voila! No more problems with the neighbors.

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Umm, why are we fighting?

Agree with most of the other commenters here but why not throw out some other ideas?

1) Ludicrously remote chances of any alien coming all this way for anything on the surface of the planet that requires leaving us alive.

2) As we haven't heard from any aliens we should assume that either they aren't out there or they're trying to keep very quiet (possibly just to let us enjoy our infancy?)

3) Why fight? If they do want to come here and run the place they've obviously got a vastly superior civilisation, where do I sign up? Say goodbye to gravity and say goodbye to death!

Brian Hall's predator theory is problematic, mostly because it misunderstands predation for aggression.

Also any society which can lob a dinosaur killer at the speed of light across the cosmos can probably put a wobble on it's planetary orbit (or stop living on planets) to make sure it's not where it was expected to be when the killer rock was sent on its way. Global warming also solved!

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Who cares?

Typical humanoid self centered thinking - as if someone or something out there would even give a flying f*ck about some little blue object tucked away in one of how many galaxies?

Get real!

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The length of my dentition...

I believe that Heinlein's book about chucking rocks at Earth was "The moon is a harsh mistress" where ore carriers loaded with rocks were chucked at Earth using electro-magnetic catapults.

And the only (humanly possible) reasons for conquering Earth is to enslave the population or that Earthlings are very tasty or both !! Therefore, wiping out the population will not serve.

But as Arthur C. Clarke had said,"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"; perhaps we should look to Harry Potter for ideas to defend Earth !!

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DRM Is Our Best Defense

I astral travel alot, well, mostly on weekends, but I know most of the worm holes and the in and outs of faster than light travel. What is little known among earthlings is that life here has been syndicated intergalactically since shortly after our species came on the scene. Before that planet earth was just another water world stop on the cheaper junkets.

When we were picked up for syndication we were copyrighted by the Qxactiqor Galactic Comedy network. Since the Qxactiqor Corp. owns us we can't be invaded or copied. Life as we live it is the biggest joke in the Cosmos. The thematic punchline is our claim to intelligence underscored by our wildly ludicrous claim to wisdom. Religion, business, wars, bigotry and pollution get big laughs. There's been rumours the Qxactiqor corporation has interfered to keep us from self extermination and ending their longest running show but the corporation claims none of their agents can visit the planet without being incapacitated by the giggles. I guess we're safely on our own.

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Pathetic Reasoning

If the logic shown in the argument about the probable number of intelligent civilisations out there is anything to go by there guys are not exactly the smartest kids on the block. It is one of the most pathetic bits of poor logic I have seen in ages.

We know of one civilisation within radius r. Us. Therefore in the universe there are n times as many civilisations as the number of times a volume of radius r fits into the universe.

So how many intelligent civilisations would you like sir?

Volume of the Universe = 3.4×10^80 cubic meters.

Volume of sphere = 4/3*pi*r^3

Number of civilisations = 0.811*10^80 / r^3 with r in metres.

Radius needed = cube root( 0.811*10^80 / number of civilisations desired )

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Ouch

I have to learn not to be drinking coffee when I read these stories, painfully funny. It does lend some credence to the rumour those pinky rings restrict the blood flow to engineer's brains.

Assuming the old e=1/2mv^2 approximation holds, and anyone would spend the time needed to come here, especially if the distances are intergalactic, they would control far more energy then our total planetary output just for propulsion.

Just to survive given that destructive potential you'd think they'd have to have cured thier own military in historical times.

But if you want to assume hostile intent then it would be far easier to just wait for our own military engineering crowd to clear the planet off anyhow.

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Better killing through biology

If aliens did want to wipe us out, wouldn't biological warfare be much more efficient?

Any civilisation with advanced enough physics for interstellar travel would have advanced enough biochemistry/genetics to make the human genome project look like child's play. (And given that their biology would most likely be totally unlike ours, they wouldn't have to worry about catching it themselves.)

Or they could go for a more indirect approach, and target our food crops. Or both at once. Mass starvation plus pneumonic plague wouldn't leave much left to mop up.

Given a little patience, they'd have an undamaged, unoccupied planet. And, depending on how they went about it, we might not even realise we were under attack until it was too late.

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Anonymous Coward

Lucifer's Hammer is DAMN CHEAP!

Francis says:

> Volume of the Universe = 3.4×10^80 cubic meters.

But Francis, that whole volume is not uniformly filled by stuff able to harbor complex self-aware organisms. Actually, it is mostly empty, just filled with fine threads of galaxies (http://cosmicweb.uchicago.edu/sims.html).

So there is a fudge factor that's missing.

Also, one would want to restrict oneself to something arbitrarily small like around 1000 ly.

Pat says:

> It would require a ridiculous amount of energy to pluck asteroids out of the kuiper belt traveling at cosmic velocities and somehow accelerate them into a direct collision course for Earth.

Not so. If you are in no hurry just give those iceballs hanging around at 50 AU a gentle push over a long time (several decades) to nudge it into an elliptical orbit. You can accelerate the process with el-cheapo slingshot manoeuvers around the outer planets (only a calculator and time is required). With some skill, these newly formed comets will intersect Earth at their perihel. Going at >100 km/s they will overtake Earth going at ~30 km/s. Bang! You can then amuse yourself mopping up the survivors on Moonbase Alpha and in orbit around Mars. We're soooo frakked!!

To round the day off, a citation from the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip by Bill Watterson:

The aliens came from a far distant world

In a large yellow ship that blinked as it twirled

It rounded the moon and it entered our sky

We knew they had come, but we didn't know why.

Bright the next morning with noisy commotion

The ship slowly moved out over the ocean

It lowered a tube and it drained the whole sea

For transport back home to their galaxy.

The tube sucked up the clouds and the air

Causing no small amount of Earthling despair

With nothing to breathe, we started to die

"Help us! Please stop!" was the public outcry.

A hatch opened up and the aliens said,

"We're sorry to learn that you soon will be dead.

But though you may find this slightly macabre,

We prefer your extinction to the loss of our jobs."

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The The?

John Griffiths said:

"Say goodbye to gravity and say goodbye to death!"

Matt Johnson's The The???

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Anonymous Coward

You will never know

A grain of sand with a few self replicating nono machines and a month later no humans. You will never know who was killing you!

Just one of a thousand ways to get rid of the pesky humans on this rock.

Quite simply there is no way we could defend against an alien attack. This book is a total waste of effort in writing and a waste of good trees in printing. The best defense for this plant is NOT to buy this book!

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A Cunning plan

Keen readers of the Reg will already have noticed the aliens plan - killing off the bees.

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It's been said already...

..but I say it again. The staggering amount energy of energy required to travel from, say, one planet elsewhere in our galaxy to within our solar system is such that it rules out coming to Earth with either aggression or resoruce theft as a motive. The only realistic reason would be communication of some sort and that seems unlikely right now, since we cannot even get into space on any reasonable scale.

This sidesteps the even more staggering odds against any life with that kind of ability oc-existing with us in the universe. The odds favour there being no other intelligent life extant, right now although they suggest that long after we ought to be extinct there ought be intelligent life coming into existence elsewhere in the cosmos. This is all pretty well documented maths but I guess the 'boffins' concerned like stats even less than I do ;¬)

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Anonymous Coward

@ David Trew

Darn, I was hoping I was the only one to see the link.

Obviously, there must be a link with the sudden dissappearance of all those bees and the sudden appearance of all those UFO's. As we supposedly can't possibly stay alive without honey bees, now all the aliens need to do is wait a decade or so and the planet is theirs for the taking.

Granted the scientists were right for a change, and the aliens doesn't die from wifi radiation :P

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, yes...

Reminds me of the Power Macintosh 7100 which had a code name of 'Carl Sagan'. He didn't like that so he sued Apple to force a code name change. He lost, but they accommodated his wishes by renaming the project's code name to 'BHA' -- B*tt Head Astronomer. He wasn't as fond of that one, either, and sued but also lost. Apple then renamed it for the third and final time, a little over 10 years ago.

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Hate to be even MORE cynical, but...

If we grant the hypothesis that aliens are going to be humanlike enough to notice, or bother with, us at all, we have to consider the possibility that, like humans, they (their leaders or most of their population) may simply take pleasure in the suffering of other sentient beings, and consider indulging this a legitimate and rewarding use of whatever resources they own.

Unfortunately, the Cthulhu hypothesis actually makes more sense economically and behaviorally than interplanetary miners or traders.

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Gav

One

"We know that at least one star system (our own) within the Milky Way Galaxy has developed intelligent life . . . that suggests statistics of at least one civilisation per galaxy . . . So, there should be billions of star systems with intelligent civilisations."

The same logic states that we know at least one star system in the UNIVERSE has developed intelligent life . . . that suggests statistics of at least one civilisation per universe. . . So, there should be one star systems with an intelligent civilisation.

If this is the level of analysis in the book, it's working at the level of the dumbest of dumb science fiction. I expect to see a Hollywood adaptation within 5 years.

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Hope the Culture gets here first.

The usual good sf authors get mentioned - Niven for Footfall etc., but let's hope those nice Culture people get here as described by Iain M Banks.

They are an exception to the standard advanced = predator model, but don't get them upset! Even these crypto-Anarchists have terror weapons...

At least they'll not bother to drop rocks on us as a standard Ship can destroy something much bigger than a planet from _very_ far away, probably without us even noticing until the planet flies apart.

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