Related topics

Interstellar Bebo spamgasm targeted at 'water world'

Web-2.0 tomfoolery could trigger alien jellyfish attack

Astronomers believe that there may be a "water world" capable of harbouring intelligent alien life orbiting a star just 20 lightyears from Earth. Unfortunately, it appears that the first communication any aliens will receive from the human race will be a multimedia compilation assembled by Bebo users.

News of the possible watery planet comes courtesy of Science magazine, reporting on the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting now under way here in Blighty. It appears that a group of planet-hunting boffins have now revised their assessments regarding the fourth planet of the red dwarf star Gliese 581, 20.3 lightyears off in the constellation Libra.

Gliese 581d was formerly judged to be too far from its parent star for liquid water to exist on its surface, but now the astronomers believe it is actually within the liquid-water zone. Stephane Udry from the Observatory of Geneva says that the mighty planet, thought to have a mass about seven times that of Earth, "could even be covered by a large and deep ocean ... It is the first serious 'water world' candidate."

The former prime candidate for life, the third planet, is now thought by some boffins to be too close in: any watery life like that of Earth would be boiled before it was even born.

But deep oceans on the fourth planet could be quite convenient for any alien life resident there, as it would have around seven times Earth's gravity. This would tend to prohibit many Earthly land lifeforms: frogs, tree-swinging monkeys, crusty jugglers and so on would struggle to survive the bone-crunching impacts produced by seven-G ballistics.

But, as everyone knows, floating underwater is the next best thing to being unaffected by gravity - NASA astronauts train for zero-G in underwater simulation tanks. Gliese 581d's oceans could harbour fish-, whale- and giant-squid-oids etc not too dissimilar from those of Earth.

Regular Reg readers will recall that last October the controversial "active SETI" proponent, Alexander Zaitsev, allied himself with the Bebo userbase to beam out a large data dump at Gliese 581 from a powerful radio telescope in the Ukraine. The web-2.0 teenybopper portal package contained various items that the Bebo community considered likely to interest alien beings: mainly pictures of cats and boy crooners, plus a selection of text messages. ("Our bodies are made of bones" "I love Television" "Hi im nicole, i would love to appear on the west end stage in a hit show.i also wouldnt mind doing a few television programs. anyway laters.Nicole x")

Assuming a Gliese 581d underwater civilisation of mer-people or similar, at our own level or reasonably close to it, we're probably OK. A submarine culture would be unlikely to make any serious use of radio, and with any luck they'll never notice the cringeworthy Bebo spam blast when it arrives in March of 2029.

But we may not be so lucky. There could be a more advanced race of ocean-dwellers present, perhaps a malevolent one evolved from such organisms as the immortal self-mothering Dr Who clone jellyfish blobominations already present in the Earth's oceans. If the voracious jellyfish-beings - doubtless having devoured all other life on their world - have developed space travel, then we're in trouble. A spacegoing jelly civilisation would naturally be up on radio, and would detect the Bebo user generated data-splurt at once.

A ravening, wobbly invasion/harvest force would be despatched immediately. Even if the jellies have failed to master faster-than-light travel, they could be here in less than a century: then all life on Earth would be wiped out in a hideous, frenzied orgy of gelatinous gluttony.

And the result would be no better if the spacegoing aliens of Gliese 581 are in fact civilised and tasteful rather than hungry for protoplasm. Any refined culture, on finding its local airwaves polluted by Bebo, is liable to respond with a planet-busting bomb, ray or relativistic missile of some sort.

Everyone already knew that free user-generated content is a terrible thing, set to destroy all decent news, publishing, telly etc and leave the great artists of the future dependent on T-shirt and souvenir mug sales to support their miserable poverty-stricken existences. But not many of us realised that social media would actually result in the extinction of humanity. ®

Sponsored: Network DDoS protection