This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream. Get access to my streaming video service, Nebula, when you sign up for CuriosityStream using the link in the description. One day, strangers from a strange land may come to our world, and it is entirely possible they’ll come as friends or conquerors, bearing guns or gifts, or seeking sanctuary. The tricky part will be figuring out which is which. For the last couple of months, we’ve been looking at concepts like Extragalactic Sanctuaries and Deep Space Habitats and why someone might live in such places and what sort of someone’s that might be, and it reminded me of a common staple of science fiction. Rather than aliens coming to meet us or conquer us, they’re actually refugees looking for a place to live.
The sci-fi film: District 9, looks at the notion of an alien ship landing in South Africa in 1982 in an alternate past. We also see this in the Film and TV show: Alien Nation, in which we have the alien Newcomers as a refugee population in California, after their ship landed in the Mojave Desert, and we see Terence Stamp playing an alien crime boss in that movie. In a way, it’s not too different from his role as General Zod in Superman 2, or the 2013 reboot, Man of Steel, where Zod and his followers are essentially refugees of a destroyed civilization. It is a reminder as we try to contemplate this topic, that aliens coming to Earth might be very much like us, in which case, they would run the gray spectrum of morality, saints and crime bosses, but that desperation often is a door for using and abusing others and for manipulating others into doing so too. Another common trope in fiction, often as a Starter Villain before the Final Boss, is when it turns out that the alien invaders attacking Earth are on the run themselves from some greater and more evil empire that’s chasing them.
Which is a good point to hit on because it is making a big assumption; not only that the aliens possess a similar morality to us, but also that they would expect our own morality on arriving. Nature is not kind to creatures fleeing their own local ecosystem for a new one. To be fair, there often would be a welcoming party inviting you to dinner as the guest of honor, it's just that you won’t be around for dessert.
Now, needless to say, the topic of refugees can be a touchy one that we’ll try to treat with some respect but I’ll say right out that we are discussing unknown aliens showing up, not some species we’ve long had contact with that’s calling on us for help, and not fellow humans whose psychology we know and where we have a lot of news reports and existing diplomatic channels authenticating what’s going on. So, while we’re obviously going to be drawing parallels to human refugee situations, we also need to be wary of just assuming all the same reasoning applies. Also, from a pragmatic standpoint, any interstellar spaceship, even a beat up refugee vessel, might be very hard to say no to under our normal rule that there is no such thing as an unarmed spaceship, and of course it's a treasure trove of technology. That’s a fair analogy too, given that historically, saying no to refugees often makes many feel forced to invade or turn criminal, right or wrong, they’re desperate, and in the same way, an awful lot of societies have gained benefits from refugee cultures showing up. That’s also true of invasions in many cases, and of course the practical benefits or losses ideally isn't supposed to influence our decisions on ethical matters but we should also be realistic.
So, today we’ll be trying to look at this set of concepts with some realism and trying to keep in mind that there is a good chance that our first encounter with aliens might be them showing up and asking for a safe port of call, or invading and us not realizing we had a potential ally chasing after them, to cut a deal with perhaps, though they may not be interested, or they may be interested, but be an even greater devil. So, sit back, grab a drink and a snack, slam that like and subscribe button, and let’s get rolling! Before you open your door to a stranger, let alone a house guest, it helps to know if they’re a good person, or alien, and it matters how you define a good person yourself. If I’m opening the door to a stranger in the middle of the night to the home in which my family is sleeping, I’m juggling two ethical priorities. My duty to help someone in need who has literally landed on my doorstep, and my duty as guardian of all those living inside that house.
The analogy applies to both classic refugee cases on Earth and with aliens too, and the terrible aspect of such occasions is that it gives us the opportunity for cruel actions to be taken by those who are themselves kind and generous. I think with all of us coming out of this long, emotionally-brutal planet-wide quarantine from Covid, this no longer feels entirely like an academic question. What do you do if an Alien Plague Ship shows up – full of all sorts of unknown organisms that might act as invasive species – and will not respond to any messages.
It is just landing somewhere. Caution would say: “nuke it”, because if there’s even a chance of compatible biology, then all it takes is just one microorganism getting out of that ship to potentially ruin our entire ecosystem. If they come from an ethical civilization, they’ll understand that we had a lot of unknowns and did what we could to answer those before acting, but too much was in the balance to risk it. I still couldn’t call that ethical, just at best the lesser of great evils. And to place the situation in reverse, if you or I were the admiral of some Human Space Fleet, investigating the loss of a scout ship on an inhabited world, and found out that they had tried to hail our scout but that they hadn’t responded, then blew it up in case it held disease or invasive species, we wouldn’t open fire on them in retaliation.
We would tell them the name of the scouts on the ship and ask if that would be an okay place for us to open a spaceport and embassy -since it is a crater now anyway- to honor their sacrifice. Then we would probably tell them that no ship of ours would ever seek to land in an alien ecosystem unless it knew beyond any reasonable doubt that it was safe, that they would have blown themselves up rather than imperil an innocent world, and so either they were incapacitated and somehow the automated failsafe also failed, or in blowing it up they had done us the favor of disposing of some traitors and cowards anyway. Since the black box was vaporized, we have the luxury of giving the crew the benefit of the doubt. And back home, we would absolutely court martial that admiral if they had fired on that world in revenge. The same thing would probably apply if we cracked the ship open and unknowingly killed the pilot, or even autopsied a dead corpse that was busy having nanotech revive it. Curiosity should be a common theme of any civilization that acquired technology, alien or not, as should caution.
They will also know the law of unintended consequences and how often it accompanies curiosity. Now, your options vary on your capabilities and perceived risk. If it landed in the middle of a desert and was unresponsive, we could probably firewall the area and blast the outside with UV radiation before doming it over. And that is a gamble, but one which might pay off with wonderful new technologies and knowledge. However, keep in mind we’re not just contemplating a biological bug slipping out, one from an environment which might make it more resilient or survivable to disinfection methods, but also the random nanobots that probably would be inside the typical citizen of a spacefaring civilization. They’re not going to survive nuclear bombardment, and they probably have their own failsafes to keep them from acting without orders outside their host’s body, but one of those might be that if the host is effectively dead, the nanobots are supposed to cannibalize anything necessary to revive them or store their brain and send a copy home.
That might mean casually shredding the seals on their spaceship to let bugs out while ripping apart the local landscape to build a small fortress, powerplant, and transmitter, to make sure the brain gets copied and sent home, or is guarded while being repaired. On our end, we’re hoping that they took a lot of safeguards to protect locals and that they would not hold it against us if we didn’t take that on faith. Odds are, they get the concept of Stranger Danger, it should be very common for any critter that clawed its way up Darwin’s Ladder, and if they still opt to be hostile when they find out, well, odds are good they aren’t the sorts to take precautions with the safety of unknown aliens in mind or the sorts you would ever have a friendly relationship with anyway. We don’t know if aliens would have anything like the same morality we do, and you can make a pretty good argument that a strictly Darwinian morality isn’t morality at all, not more than Anarchy is a form of government. Of course, there’s a lot of versions of governance that take up the name anarchy, like anarcho-capitalism or anarcho-socialism, so it probably wouldn’t be surprising to see official moral systems drawing on Darwinism as their bedrock, and an ethical system need not be perfectly logically consistent anyway. In this case, this presumably is the idea that nature itself has a built-in morality.
Now, that’s not new, it's just that, when we discuss natural rights and fundamental good or evil, historically, everyone took for a given that there was an underlying divine good and evil and the word ‘nature’ did not imply random chaos. Rather, nature was the opposite of chaos and anyone using the term prior to maybe the 19th century was assuming a someone, or something, had designed nature and either knew what was fundamentally right and wrong, or actually was itself what was fundamentally right. Or, sometimes was perhaps the equal but opposite personality or force, like Ahriman, or Yin and Yang. That these things were fundamental and true, and that therefore, while there can be exceptions or mitigations, things like murder, theft or profanity were fundamentally wrong, not locally wrong or dependent on whether humans believed they were wrong or not. This concept of natural rights, or a fundamental right and wrong, or an ethical universe, is why most legal systems of modern times might allow a democratic vote on most things, but not on if it’s okay to murder people or take their stuff.
It is assumed that democracy does not actually determine what is or is not ethical, just that the will of the people is often as-good-a-means of discovering what is right or wrong as some philosopher-kings might be. Incidentally, I’m compressing and oversimplifying the topic, though hopefully without distorting it, still, I’d encourage folks to read or watch more on these topics, lots of stimulating thoughts and debate. I’m a physicist not a philosopher, so not super-qualified to delve into it.
Now, why am I pounding on this point then? Well, because, if you see a ship full of refugees approaching your planet, it helps to have an ethical reason not to shoot them down, because there are a lot of logical reasons to do so, especially on first glance, and it really helps to know if there’s any chance whatsoever that their ethical system matches ours on some key points, and it matters a lot if you believe there are fundamental rights and wrongs. We can argue that any civilization must have some sort of rules against murder or theft in order to operate, but if that’s just their own internal regulation that keeps their societal machine running, that they don’t believe right and wrong are fundamental to the Universe, then we have no expectation they would feel it applied to us anymore than thinking someone who follows the rules of a board game, or sports game, lives those same rules out when not playing. There’s definitely room for Cognitive Dissonance on things like this, almost everyone will say they believe murder is truly wrong, and they mean it too, at a gut and visceral level, certain crimes are repugnant to us. That law is written on every heart, either by divine agency or evolutionary processes for maintaining species’ survival, for highly social animals. For my part, I do believe in an Ethical Universe, where things like murder are truly wrong, but I can’t offer any scientific evidence for or against that premise. I considered the alternative and I do not like the idea of being in a reality where killing someone and taking their stuff is okay, and that, if it isn’t, it's just some convenient social convention.
And I emphasize that point because it follows that I’m going to be in favor of letting the alien refugees land, by default, but I’m not an idiot either, so I’m not going to blithely ignore all the ways that this can go terribly wrong, even if it turns out that they are ethical too. And for the same reason, since I think there is a fundamental right and wrong, I assume aliens could know it too. Thus, they might come to us for help and if we turned them away for purely selfish reasons, that might be a stain on our honor in the eyes of many, even those coming after them. Those pursuers might even pay us handsomely in technology and territory, for us to turn those fleeing them over, but still spit on our name after they gave us our silver, because the galaxy might have basic universal concepts of good and bad.
Mind you, humans generally do believe right and wrong are fundamental, but often don’t apply concepts like murder or theft; to animals, plants, or rocks either, by and large, or make exceptions. So even if you find out they have an ethics system they are really devoted to, which requires what we view as wonderfully ethical behavior, it is a good idea to check if they believe it includes us before inviting them to land. We’re also permitted some legitimate paranoia here, in the context of our first encounter with aliens being, one crashing onto our planet.
It’s fair to ask what scenario produced them landing without saying anything, because local communications via radio is pretty low energy and pretty low mass in terms of the device, and very simple, so there’s no real plausible situation there shouldn’t be a backup or two, or an automated beacon. And the episode may draw on science fiction for inspiration, but we’re talking about reality here, your backup, and backup’s backup, are not likely to fail very often. That would imply sabotage, and for that matter we generally assume interstellar starships aren’t designed for landing on planets, or successfully crashing on them either, especially when critically damaged, which is implied if all their comms are down and have been during their long approach to the planet from deep space. Otherwise, they should have plenty of attention and time to spare to notice the comms were down, and fix them. It would be a horrible thing if someone got killed because their pod’s communicator failed, and its backup failed, and its backup-backup failed, but the odds of that happening just seem so small, and it’s not an academic situation, it’s the possible fate of a civilization. On the freak chance that someone was driving on a road with streetlights while I was walking across it at night with my reflective belt and little blinking light I have, and all three failed at once, I’m not going to hold it against them that they ran me over and neither would any just civilization.
I think that covers what to do if someone just shows up, and without communicating with us before landing, but let’s contemplate some scenarios where we know more and let’s start with an opening message. It as a follows: Greetings, humans of Earth. This message is coming to you from our spaceship, now approaching Earth. We are the Chell, and are a group of aliens that came up on the losing side of a civil war, and have fled to Earth, hoping you would help us and give us sanctuary.
We come in friendship and will gladly share our knowledge with you. May we land? So, we got that message and we know they know our language well enough to formulate that message, but then we’ve been broadcasting radio waves for a century now, and whether their ship had to obey light speed or came in using some sort of warp, they should have had plenty of time to soak up those signals and run them through computers and get some sort of understanding of our basic, most-dominant languages. This does not necessarily mean they’ve really done their homework, and seen all our alien invasions films and sci-fi, to understand our initial concerns. The Chell may be moving at FTL speeds and their computer barely had time to crack the signals, or, they got them from some file called “Earth Languages” on Galactopedia, that someone compiles from more thorough research done by unmanned probes. These are refugees, fleeing to possible safety, so they may be akin to someone running toward a border or embassy, with a copy of a foreign language phrasebook in hand, trying to learn the customs as they ran. Even in a non-FTL setting, if Chell are refugees, then there’s a good chance everyone on board is stuffed into freezer tanks, or databases, except the bare minimum needed to keep the ship running.
They may not have a lot of free time and talent for watching human B-films from the 1950s and 60s being broadcast on TV in the 80s or 90s, showing how humans perceive aliens. What do we know from this message they have sent? There’s an awful lot we could make some good educated guesses on, as we’ve looked at in other episodes on alien behaviors and signals, but, we know one key thing: There *is* alien life out there, and it isn’t a single unified agency. It is statistically improbable that the only other alien civilization out there in the galaxy just happened to have a civil war in which an alien refugee ship leaves and comes here to us, unless there are tons of other civilizations out there. Possibly with a common ancestor, there might be a million alien empires in the galaxy, who could all trace their lineage back to one homeworld, and we have no reason to think they view us as less than their neighbors. The implication of a colonized galaxy with us in it, is that, the default worldview, or galaxy view, isn’t casual genocide of other intelligent lifeforms or ecosystems. Combine that with sudden proof aliens exist, and we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that, brutal utilitarianism mixed with xenophobia, is not the default condition of the Universe.
That message tells us that these aliens, the Chell, expect us to at least contemplate their request. Maybe they’re laughing up their sleeves because they are actually brutal pirates, waiting to land and be embraced as friends, before firing on us and enslaving us. But, of course, one would wonder why they need slaves, instead of robots, and why nobody ever came by before. Our peaceful existence here tends to imply that either: no aliens with the ability to travel here; exist nearby us, which I tend to assume is the case, or that they have been aware of us and perhaps even been observing us for a long time and left us be. The approaching ship implies option two, which implies that, whatever their intent toward us is, the galactic norm for the past millions of years is not to wipe out primitive planets, or enslave them.
They might be tricksters or sincere, and if sincere, they might unknowingly be exposing us to harm, or they might be indifferent to it; or just too desperate to care. The impression with fleeing refugees is that, the place you’re fleeing to offers a chance of safety, and a lot of times, those fleeing are not really stopping to philosophize on if they represent a danger or burden to the place they are going. To be fair, if you’re fleeing a tyrannical empire, bent on conquering all, the place that takes you in is just getting a forewarning and a new ally against the nominal bad guys, who probably do not need a genuine excuse for declaring another war. However, that’s not likely to be the case on the galactic stage, based on our prior reasoning, and it would not seem likely then, that taking in a ship of refugees itself would be viewed as giving someone a casus belli, or case for belligerence. An act of war.
Obviously, step 2 on our part, is to ask some tough questions and be prepared to get some absolute hogwash in reply. If they were on the losing end of a civil war, I figure that there’s at least a 50/50 chance that on the sliding scale of ethics, the refugees’ side was on the dark side of their opposition. That doesn’t mean you don’t help them, but there’s a good chance this surviving ship either contains a bunch of cowardly deserters or was carrying off the equivalent of the royal family and its servants and treasure, while their capitol, and citizens, burned. Which hardly makes them evil, but also probably isn’t the story they’re getting ready to tell, especially as, in a non-FTL Universe, they may have had centuries to whitewash their past behavior.
That could also apply to their current behavior too, I mean, a ship that left 300 years ago, carrying the equivalent of war criminals and their loyalists and slaves, might now be full of their innocent, honorable, and noble descendants. Same way around, the ship once populated by the brave last defenders of a civilization, carrying off their orphans and sages, might have degenerated into a thug state of ‘might makes right’, while living in the crammed and resource-poor interior of a ship on a mission that was launched without proper preparation. They might be fleeing the law and a just law at that, but hoping to turn over a new life, and they might decide to construct an entirely fake narrative of fleeing some race like the Borg from Star Trek because they saw them on our TV, and figured we’d buy that story.
So, we have to be asking them for some real details on who they are and who they are running from, and we have to assume that they are not telling us the truth, or even necessarily know the truth themselves. But, one way or another, we still need the truth, and we need to be asking ‘what do you want?’, because the galaxy doesn’t seem to be crammed to the gills with civilizations, as we were discussing last week in Absent Megastructures. They may only be asking for some unused asteroid in our solar system, to land on and use, as opposed to some unused island on Earth or bit of desert, or flat-out integration into our civilization.
That asteroid seems a lot more reasonable as an ask, but begs the question of why they did not go to one around a minor nearby star or in deep space? Any longtime watcher of this show knows such places are as likely to be a comfortable home or refueling stopover for a high-tech community as a planet is. Unlike General Zod from Man of Steel, who had a terraforming machine, and felt obliged to use it on Earth instead of Mars or Venus, we can assume that someone will point out that, Earth itself is not really an optimal place for them to be setting up a Version 2.0 on, and some perfectly good rock they could smash up and build a cylinder habitat out of, would be much more suitable, and they could do the job both faster and better. Of course, that would depend on scale. Folks fleeing an interstellar empire or Kardashev-2 system, might be the ragged remains of something once greater, but still number in the trillions or even quadrillions, not a few thousand or maybe a million, as we usually see with this sort of scenario in sci-fi. We contemplated that notion in our Extragalactic Sanctuaries episode where the nominal rebel stronghold was 10 million star systems, each composed of dyson swarms.
At that point, it’s sort of like someone knocking on your door and asking for sanctuary for himself, and upon getting the yes, you find him waving in a few dozen people to cram into your house, or a few quintillion. But, whether it’s a planet, an asteroid or a minor moon, the question becomes why they came here rather than, say, Epsilon Eridani or Alpha Centauri, or, as in that episode, the Omega Centauri Cluster. Of course, maybe they are aiming there and they feel they have to ask for our blessing or at least tacit permission to use that star system. Alternatively, they might be coming to us specifically for safety. Now, given that we don’t have any giant space guns, there’s a short list of reasons why we might provide safety.
First, they might think that, if they give us a nice sob story and a ton of advanced technology, we would be willing and able to build and use giant space guns on their behalf. And again, the context of today is unknown aliens showing up at our door while we’re still pretty primitive, everything changes if we’ve got tons of interstellar colonies and whole armadas of ships ourselves, plus knowledge of the various aliens and their empires. It gets much more analogous to modern situations then. In such a case where they show up and offer us the technology for guns and ask for our aid using them, they may even want to talk us into fighting for their cause to reclaim their homeworld or whatever. But why not just use robots or even clones or something? It would seem like even a fairly unsophisticated self-replicator could do the 30-something generations of doubling needed to match the human population in less than the several decades of time it takes to travel here, as opposed to some system nearer to them, and presumably, they don’t need to be paid and can get their work done more predictably and productively; same for weapons of war, combat drones, and so on. I am having problems seeing why they would view Earth itself as being of any special value, anymore than a classic alien invader.
We’ll be looking at the Dumbest Alien Invasions in this month’s sci-fi Sunday episode, and that will include some potential motives, so, for now, we’ll just leave it at saying that alien refugees themselves have no obvious motivation to want Earth. It’s not a great source of raw materials, nor of labor or war-fighting allies, currently. Its unique native biology is probably valuable but not in any obvious way to aliens fleeing an enemy, and those fleeing an enemy presumably don’t pause to engage in casual genocide of primitive worlds either. That’s the first rule of warfare after all, when running from an enemy, don’t go out of your way to make new ones. Such being the case, my best guess would be that they need to fall under our official umbrella.
In a big semi-civilized galaxy, you could have a lot of factions that don’t casually invade even a primitive world’s space, because doing so would be viewed negatively by other powers. It wouldn’t be too unlike someone fleeing the US to some minor island nation with a population of a couple thousand. Obviously, even the smallest ocean-going naval vessel is packing enough people and ordinance to take that person by force or even that whole island. There are pretty good odds that an order to invade is going to have the captain radio back, asking if we’re drunk or insane, and perhaps even refusing on moral grounds, blind obedience in militaries is much more common in fiction than reality. But, such a command wouldn’t likely be issued because there are serious consequences to that action, and they’re likely to outweigh the apparent benefit, at a political and diplomatic level.
In that context it would seem like the most obvious reason to come here would be to live under a sanctuary umbrella and of course, sanctuary requires permission. In this context though it feels uncomfortably like a vampire needing to knock on your door and get invited in, and indeed asking for sanctuary might be one of those loopholes for getting your foot in the door and taking a place over without having to be officially declared an invader. You’re a guest who was granted citizenship and can now influence the planet like any other. Now, as a caveat to the First Rule of Warfare, not making more enemies while fleeing one, it is only fair to mention that this implies that an attack would actually matter. In Frank Herbert’s classic: Dune, both the fifth and sixth books are set 5000 years after the original trilogy, and after the original empire, the Old Million as it is called, has come to be dwarfed by an unknowable number of distant colonies created in a period known as the Scattering.
It’s implied that there are vast empires dwarfing these old million worlds that have grown out there in the Universe, and at the start of events, many are coming home as refugees and traders, often bearing new technologies. Many are fleeing a group called the Honored Matres, who are decidedly militant, but still themselves seek non-violent conquest options first, but they don’t mind picking a fight, because all the great powers of the Old Million are frankly rather tiny compared to the forces they have, plus they’re arrogant and touchy. It turns out that they themselves are on the run from some unknown greater enemy that’s thrashed them, and they’re hoping humanity’s old empire, under the Atreides, has some super weapons or designs hidden there.
No spoilers here, but it’s hard to imagine that Earth would house a superweapon, unless we had some ancient precursor civilization here, and we see that in the Stargate SG-1 series, where Earth was actually the home for a human precursor civilization that left some mighty big guns hanging-out in Antarctica. And it is worth noting that, if the galaxy is full of alien life, and yet Earth is getting left alone, as seems the case, then it is just as likely that Earth holds some special significance; as it is likely that primitive worlds like Earth just get left alone and everyone is good about obeying that rule. Maybe 70 million years ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth and colonized the galaxy from here, and while their empire eventually fell, everyone is terrified of setting off all the massive automated defenses around Earth. That’s not an asteroid belt, it’s ten million orbital weapons systems gathering dust. One last note on realism to finish up the day: Let’s say a ship was coming. Who gets to talk to them and make this decision about granting refuge? What if some countries say no? What if one with nukes threatens to use them if we permit a landing? What if most nations say no but one says “Sure, come here”, do we just let that go? For that matter, is anyone really going to care what the UN says in a case like that? It’s not exactly considered a bastion of ethics or authority these days by many.
Now, by default, if they flat-out set down in some country, without conversation, then, under ordinary circumstances, that country probably has jurisdiction, but I don’t think it would be long before other countries demanded a role in things. The wedge to get in would probably be three-sided: concerns about some nation getting a ridiculous advantage in technology from having access to the aliens and their ship, the obvious fear of the huge, shared dangers, and deserving to have transparency about what is happening and a say in what happens, and demands to make sure those aliens were not being exploited or lied to. Now, I raise that last one more as a last thought for us to consider, rather than thinking it would be of equal weight to the other two. Nations might use fear of alien exploitation to get a foot in the door, but even nowadays, I don’t think that would be anyone’s chief concern. Nonetheless, there is definitely a history of refugees, after enduring hardship to get to apparent safety, still facing great hardship on their arrival, being preyed on by their host and their own less-ethical members.
I like to think we’ve gotten better about that as our civilization has aged, even if there’s still a lot of room to grow, and if it’s part of our history and growth, maybe it’s been part of most alien civilizations as well. If that’s the case, maybe if the worst ever happened to us, someone might give us refuge too, or even come to our aid. I don’t think the right question to be asking a refugee before offering help is, what have they done to deserve our help? but it’s probably not a bad idea for a civilization to ask itself what it has done to deserve help, should it ever need it, and if maybe plotting a course to salvation should include some internal journeys, not just those of space and time. So between writing this episode and getting the video ready I had occasion to watch the scifi classic TV show Babylon 5 where they tried to show realistic alien environmental conditions on board their space station and embassy and I realized one thing I didn’t get a chance to cover today is what sort of efforts we might need to construct and maintain an actual alien environment for refugees or visitors here on Earth or in orbit.
So I thought we would do an Extended Edition looking at that topic over on Nebula, our streaming service. Alien environments are a staple of science fiction but they are something that science is very interested in too and our newer telescopes are giving us a first glimpse of what sort of worlds might be common and what they might be like, and there’s a great video on that topic, Space Phenomena’s “Alien Planets” over on Curiositystream that explores options like life on a planet around a Red Dwarf star, the most common kind in the Universe. Speaking of extended editions of our show though, we do an audio only version of this show every week, with and without music, and we also do an ad and sponsor free version of the videos that we put up on Nebula, our streaming service, and now we are going to add our podcast up there ad and sponsor free on Nebula too, and like all our episodes they will come out on Nebula a few days early. We also often have extended editions of our episodes on Nebula and again we’ll be having one for today’s episode to discuss alien environmental enclosures, which will be available as video and audio-only, with and without music accompanying.
Now if you didn’t know, Nebula is our streaming service where you can catch all those extended editions of our show, some Nebula Exclusives like Planets vs Megastructures and the Coexistence with Alien series, and now our audio-only version of the show ad-free. And all our new episodes, video or audio, come out there a couple days early and without ads or sponsors. Nebula is also home to an ever-growing number of content creators and is the largest creator-owned streaming service out there, making it a great way to help support some of your favorite channels while getting ad free content and bonus material. Now you can subscribe to Nebula all by itself but we have also partnered up with CuriosityStream, the home of thousands of great educational videos on amazing topics like Alien Planets.
That lets us offer Nebula for free as a bonus if you sign up for CuriosityStream using the link in our episode description. That lets you see the amazing content on Curiositystream and Nebula for less than $15 a year, just use the link in the episode’s description. So next week we will be talking about possible doomsday technologies that might cause a civilization to become refugees or even wipe them out entirely, and we will explore such Technological Timebombs as a possible Fermi Paradox Solution.
One example of that would be a technology that literally wipes your civilization out backwards in time, and we will be exploring that and other dangerous and weaponized uses of Time Travel in two weeks, and how those function inside of various temporal models like alternate timelines. Before that though, we have another Alien Civilizations episode coming up next weekend for our monthly Scifi Sunday episode, Dumbest Alien Invasions, where we’ll examine the weirdest attempts and motives in fiction to invade Earth. Then in three weeks we’ll ask what humanity’s first space settlement will be like, and where it will be: in orbit, on the Moon or Mars or somewhere else. Then we’ll close the month out with our Livestream Q&A on Sunday August 28th at 4pm Eastern time, where we take your questions from the chat and answer them live. If you want alerts when those and other episodes come out, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and hit the notifications bell. And if you enjoyed today’s episode, and would like help support future episodes, please visit our website, Isaac Arthur.net, for ways to donate, or become a show patron over at
Patreon. Those and other options, like our awesome social media forums for discussing futuristic concepts, can be found in the links in the description. Until next time, thanks for watching, and have a great week!