The Fe(a)rmi Paradox

October 30, 2015 § 1 Comment

We first saw it in the Fall of the year 2015 — an irregular rhythm of light fluctuations in the KIC 8462852 star system. Although we had never seen anything like it before, common logic and Occam’s Razor implied that it was simply some asteroid shower breaking up and remaining in orbit around the star. And for a long time, we relied on that logic, believing confidently this anomaly was nothing of substance. Any notion to the contrary seemed absurd. By even the most generous calculations, the probability of us coming into contact with any other life in the universe, let alone our galaxy, was essentially zero. But then again the probability of our existence even coming to be is on par with this figure.

The fluctuations slowly grew more frequent and more pronounced. Still though, we relied on the our assumptions; this couldn’t possibly be anything. Surely, just another planet entering the orbit of the star or another asteroid shower pouring in more debris accounted for this. It was at this point though, that that little voice in my head asked the inevitable question — what if? For years in my childhood, I dreamed of meeting with martians and exploring the depths of space with other sentient beings. Although it was nigh impossible, this seemed like the best chance I would ever have at experiencing this dream. I consciously remember going to bed one night and saying to myself that this has to be something more, it can’t be nothing.

I continued to watch this occurrence with great interest. Every push and pulse like my breath, starting calm but slowly working its way up in both cadence and depth. This could be the very thing that I had always dreamed about.

And then it happened.

I was alone in the observatory late at night, when I heard the radio go off behind me. Clear as day, I could hear it. “We… building up transports… have ability to… connect… need response…. will continue search… if no answer.” (ASIDE: please bear with the enormous plot hole that these otherworldly being can speak English, and that the narrator is the only one to hear the transmission) All my life I had dreamed of this moment, the moment when I would have the chance to live out my childhood fantasies and explore the universe with aliens. The sheer improbability that something like this would occur was one thing, the fact that I was the one who had the opportunity was too much. And yet, I couldn’t get up to grab the mic. Swiftly following the fantastical excitement was the harsh fear of reality. What if the aliens were violent? What if this was a trap? What if this changes the world in a way that we couldn’t even fathom? I sat there paralyzed by fear, contemplating if this was something that I really wanted to do. The radio constantly repeating. Each repetition both a whimsical offer to explore everything that I wanted to, but also a crippling vacuum of unknown. I sat there unsure of what to do for an hour, frozen by fear. Then the radio went silent.

Looking back in the telescope, I saw KIC 8462852 shining constantly.

(based on recent observations around the KIC 8462852 star system: http://www.americaspace.com/?p=87587)

-Kyle Uber

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§ One Response to The Fe(a)rmi Paradox

  • defabrsa says:

    Going along with the theme of short stories, I really appreciated the full story arc that this post had, and the first-person narrative style that gave it a personal touch.
    The dilemma you present for the contacted scientist is much more realistic than what many “first contact” stories focus on. In reality, it would be terrifying to be the only person receiving a signal, and an ethical conflict is created when a scientist realizes that the fate of humanity may well rest in her responding or not. Your story creates suspense in its audience by making us want the scientist to reach out and reply just as much as the scientist does himself. In ultimately making the “safe” choice and giving up his dreams, we are forced to ask ourselves, “What would I have done?” This is an effective way of producing an epiphany without necessarily forcing one single conclusion.

    I hope you consider writing a short story as a capstone to this course; I think it would be a successful and enjoyable work, at least from a reader’s standpoint.

    -SD

    Like

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