The Epidemic Scenario
November 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
Most “First Contact” scenarios seem to leave out a pretty crucial aspect of encountering aliens from a completely different world. Everybody is always worrying about whether they have better weapons than us, or whether they think like us, but these concerns skip over some much bigger problems that could be at hand in this situation.
Let me lay out the situation for you: you’re on a spaceship and you run into an alien vessel floating around out there. They seem pretty friendly, so you let them come aboard. Assuming they look like us and have similar social customs, the alien captain comes up to shake your hand. Here is where the dilemma comes into play – do you really want to shake his hand? I mean, do you know where his hand has been? Actually you know exactly where it’s been: all over some alien world that you know nothing about. They might use feces for soap over there, for all you know.
But seriously, the transferal of diseases between humans and aliens does get skipped over in a lot of stories and theories about the first contact with another intelligent race. Yeah, H.G. Wells kind of made the point in War of the Worlds, (SPOILER ALERT) but even then it was a little unrealistic that we would just happen to get lucky, and the Martians would be the only side harmed by this effect because their planet didn’t have bacteria on it at all. I’m left thinking: “So, where did all the life come from if there are no microscopic organisms there?” It was definitely a tooth fairy, but still (END SPOILER ALERT).
Any alien life that we encounter will most likely be evolved to fight off countless diseases from their home world, but we will have no defense to these without first figuring out what they are and how to vaccinate for them. That being said, the aliens would also have the same problem with our diseases, so before we start shaking hands with them, we should probably take it easy and swap some medical records.
Hadley Wilson (B7)