Skip

Zeta Reticuli is watching the Brady Bunch
July 7, 2009 9:19 AM   Subscribe


 
Zeta Reticuli has only just now finished Star Trek and is now producing its own hordes of Trekkies.

When will we have the first interstellar Star Trek convention?
posted by kldickson at 9:20 AM on July 7, 2009


Cute. But, a nitpick: The Soprano's wasn't "broadcast." I doubt cable TV or even terrestial statellite would radiate much from the planet.

Also, what movie was it that opened with this theme?
posted by exogenous at 9:24 AM on July 7, 2009


Whereas Procyon (fun fact: it's the home of the Andorians in the Star Trek universe) has recently finished TNG and is possibly full of blue-skinned science fiction convention goers.
posted by kldickson at 9:25 AM on July 7, 2009


This looks like my current cable package.
posted by mazola at 9:25 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love the idea of aliens watching Star Trek (TOS) and trying to figure out just what the hell we're trying to say.

"What do Kirk's people want? Do they want to be our friends? Are they threatening us? Are they hitting on us? I just don't know."
posted by Naberius at 9:26 AM on July 7, 2009 [17 favorites]


This reminds me of that episode of Amazing Stories, where the aliens visited earth thinking it was still the 50's, so they were full of I Love Lucy and Honeymooners sayings. Can't remember the name of that episode, offhand.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2009


exogenous - Contact. It's a fantastic, spooky opening as we pull away from earth and the radio signals go back in time, fading out, fading out to just beeps, and then nothing.
posted by Naberius at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks Naberius!
posted by exogenous at 9:36 AM on July 7, 2009


Those poor ETs...if they only knew what was really coming...
posted by rand at 9:37 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The mind reels at what they think of us in the Formalhaut system. I'm sure it's a hot topic of discussion. . .

If these creatures are so fond of shooting at each other from speedboats while wearing pastel coats and trading one-liners about hookers, how come they never trade one-liners about hookers on the speedboats?

Excellent query, Zneegorf. I believe the answer may lie in the abstract pattern of the cheerful dark-skinned man's sweater.
posted by gompa at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Shame that they only included only American broadcasting.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


In other news, several large mailbags materialized in the office of NBC/Universal president Jeff Zucker this morning. The mailbags contained pleas from viewers demanding the network not cancel the series Star Trek. The return address on the mailbags simply said "Capella."
posted by Thorzdad at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2009


Cute. But, a nitpick: The Soprano's wasn't "broadcast." I doubt cable TV or even terrestial statellite would radiate much from the planet.

they're watching it on BBC 2!

I wonder how they'll cope with the switch to digital...
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do ET's have 30 years to prepare for the digital conversion?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2009


If ETs are noticing anything, then I'm told what they're picking up is military radar. So they probably have a much better idea of mankind's preoccupations.
posted by edd at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2009


Shame that they only included only American broadcasting.

Tsk, we all know aliens only watch US tv... that's why they all speak English.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:08 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's the contact intro it's worth a watch.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2009


"Surely you don't think Gilligan's Island..."

"Those poor people."
posted by not that girl at 10:13 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


We should have sent some poets.
posted by sugarfish at 10:19 AM on July 7, 2009


Here's the contact intro it's worth a watch.

Imagine an alien watching that intro -- "Kang, come over here, you've got to see this -- it's totally meta!"
posted by brain_drain at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Did we remember to air the last episode of Single Female Lawyer?
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


There was a Futurama episode that incorporated this idea.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2009


Lemurrhea: Did we remember to air the last episode of Single Female Lawyer?

That one, in fact.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Point to point microwave broadcasting has eliminated a lot of the noise that used to spill off planet. I forget how long that's been going on, but we have slowly been going silent over the last few decades, from the point of view of someone just outside the solar system.

Broadcast TV as our grandparents knew it has been available only locally for a long time now.

And yes, it makes me sad. As well as the digital stuff. Aliens might have a tough time decoding the digital signals.
posted by Xoebe at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2009


Would it even be theoretically possible to reconstruct a tv signal from that far away?
posted by empath at 10:37 AM on July 7, 2009


I suspect any aliens capable of picking up terrestrial signals from another system also have computers far beyond our reckoning; computers with pattern extraction, recognition and collation systems that make the human ability to hear one's own name spoken softly in a sea of white noise about as unimpressive as noticing a porchlight has been turned on during a new moon. No, I think the greater issue is that any intelligence who can detect us is almost certainly on another plane of contemplation and just ... won't ... care.

Seriously, dolphins. Dolphins, guys. Big ol' brains, and all they do is swim around, blow bubbles, sing songs and fuck. It's really rather anthropocentric to think anyone else could even care.

Still. That Ralph Kramden, eh?

Maybe they'll look for Alice on the Moon.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:40 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Aliens might have a tough time decoding the digital signals.

Especially given the encryption we're adding to all our data transmissions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 AM on July 7, 2009


Also, what movie was it that opened with this theme?

Galaxy Quest
. Funny movie.
posted by Rumple at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yet another good reason not to live on Formalhaut B.
posted by Mister_A at 10:56 AM on July 7, 2009


I wonder how they'll cope with the switch to digital...

Vouchers, like everyone else.
posted by brundlefly at 10:56 AM on July 7, 2009


wasn't it in "contact" that the first thing aliens saw from earth was a broadcast of Hitler giving a speech at the '36 olypmic games?
posted by kolophon at 11:02 AM on July 7, 2009


Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to end the series ALF with its protagonist getting captured by the Alien Task Force. It could scare xeno-couch-potatoes away from contacting us back.

On the other hand, that would just keep our delicious, delicious cats safe from harm.
posted by nicepersonality at 11:20 AM on July 7, 2009


Contact. It's a fantastic, spooky opening as we pull away from earth and the radio signals go back in time, fading out, fading out to just beeps, and then nothing.

I found it much less cool than it could have been because they got the scale all wrong. When they get to the representations of the first signals from Earth, the camera has zoomed way outside the galaxy.
posted by straight at 11:24 AM on July 7, 2009


Broadcast TV as our grandparents knew it has been available only locally for a long time now.

You are forgetting that most of the television you watch on cable gets to your local cable provider from a satellite, which in turn gets it from a channel's transmission studios. These studios deliberately broadcast the signal straight into space. While the aliens may not be hearing the VHF or UHF end-viewer broadcast, they are likely to be bombarded with satellite uplink feeds on a regular basis.


Also, in my opinion, decoding the analog UHF signal is much harder, because to know whether you have received the signal correctly requires knowing how a television works, which is not at all part of the broadcast. We couldn't even agree to build the same televisions as the Europeans, there is no reason to assume aliens will be able to sort out PAL and NTSC, and from there decode the luminance and chrominance signals, which in turn are only present in the NTSC signal in the first place to provide backward compatibility with black and white television. Then, you need to know what earth looks like to ensure that you are decoding the color correctly. Who's to say humans aren't neon yellow and the sky is green?

Digital transmission makes more sense, because it was constructed with some inherent logic from the outset. The bitstream structure didn't push the envelope, the technical envelope to pushed was the speed of encoding and decoding, but we don't care about that for this. With analog television, they did the best they could in the 30's and 40's with what they had, and everything else was a kludge on top of that.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:32 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seriously, dolphins. Dolphins, guys. Big ol' brains, and all they do is swim around, blow bubbles, sing songs and fuck. It's really rather anthropocentric to think anyone else could even care.

Plenty of humans care very much about dolphins. If I could watch alien dolphins, I'd be even more interested. Imagine watching Blue Planet, except all of the creatures on it were freakin' space aliens.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2009


I've never heard of "Formalhaut".
Fomalhaut, on the other hand, is is the brightest star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus.

/Astronomy nerd
posted by Ratio at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2009


I guess we can expect a near-c rock from Alpha Centauri in the near future in retaliation for the recent trend in "reality TV" programming.
posted by moonbiter at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2009


Iain M. Banks' The State of the Art depicts a ship and its crew spending a year or so in an extended orbit around the Earth in the late '70's:
Also while I'd been away, the ship had sent a request on a postcard to the BBC's World Service, asking for 'Mr David Bowie's "Space Oddity" for the good ship Arbitrary and all who sail in her.' (This from a machine that could have swamped Earth's entire electro-magnetic spectrum with whatever the hell it wanted from some where beyond Betelgeuse.) It didn't get the request played. The ship thought this was hilarious.
It's a fun read. :)
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on July 7, 2009


So when does Omicron Persei 8 get to see Single Female Lawyer?
posted by pemberkins at 12:03 PM on July 7, 2009


Oh wait, everyone beat me to it. Sorry.
posted by pemberkins at 12:03 PM on July 7, 2009


Sure. The aliens will study up, then win all our money on Jeopardy!
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 PM on July 7, 2009


I am picturing a galactic civilization that sees Lassie and Leave it to beaver and decides to visit earth because we seem so pleasant, and then watching culture steadily accelerating till we get to Geisha Robots and 2 Girls 1 Cup.

I wonder at what point they decide to turn around.
posted by empath at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2009


It's okay Pemberkins. We just figured you're about seven or eight light-hours away.
posted by Naberius at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2009


Or more frighteningly, an alien civilization that decides to visit earth BECAUSE of 2 Girls 1 Cup.
posted by empath at 12:13 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


And now, back again after 18 years: The New Adventures of Galaxy Quest.
posted by not_on_display at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2009


Hopefully ET's would explain to us what the heck is going on with LOST
posted by dov3 at 12:38 PM on July 7, 2009


One of the parts I liked best in Contact was the Hitler broadcast. Hitler, Earth Ambassador to the Stars!

Because at first the concept is embarrassing, then it diverges into equal portions of tragic and funny, then they converge again and you have to think, "Yeah, that's just mind-bogglingly appropriate."
Hi, we're Earth. We just got this fabulous new technology. Okay, it's kind of hacky, but we're showing it off by having this angry little dude throw out some speech before a ritualized competition which is more determined by a given organizational subunit's population (so as to have individuals further out on the bell curve) and their resources. Later on, this guy is going to be the figurehead of genocide, during which we're going to show off our fabulous new technology of efficiently killing our own species. It's less hacky than the TV thing. We might kill ourselves. We might kill you. We might kill ourselves before we get around to killing you. It's a crapshoot. We don't even know, and if we did, we wouldn't tell ourselves the truth, much less you. Hope to see you soon!
posted by adipocere at 12:39 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pamela dreamt of swamp gas reflecting the light from Parallel Romulus, but it turned out the calls were coming from inside the hook.

Every Wednesday or Thursday or whatever it is, I have to listen to the office addicts speculate about this crap, and I console myself with the hope that the utter lameness of Big Reveal exceeds my sky-high expectations.
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:01 PM on July 7, 2009


"I don't own a television - IN SPACE!"
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth years ago I saw a detailed examination, IIRC in Sci Am, asking what could be determined about Earth by examining our radio noise from interstellar distances. Unfortunately, the very first conclusion was that the programming content wouldn't survive; while the carrier waves could be detected and mapped, giving an indication of our planet's day, year, land mass distribution, and clues about its atmosphere and temperature range, the sidebands containing the program content would not be detectable by any technology either existing or clearly achievable. And while the assumption was that our technology was being used, it can also be said that you might not detect Earth's radio transmissions at all unless you were using somethign like our technology, since if you have FTL comms you don't need radio.
posted by localroger at 3:32 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


No matter how near or how far, all it is is M*A*S*H.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:35 PM on July 7, 2009


"Zeta Reticuli has only just now finished Star Trek and is now producing its own hordes of Trekkies."

This is the plot of "Galaxy Quest" with Tim Allen and Alan Rickman, isn't it?
posted by WhySharksMatter at 6:44 PM on July 7, 2009


« Older Ruins of the Second Gilded Age   |   Go Raiders. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post