This is one of the strangest stories I've received recently, and it was sent by Mr. T.M. NASA, according to this article, intercepted, and eventually decoded, an 80,000 year old distress message from a planet apparently outside this galaxy. Whether "outside" means in a distant galaxy, or rather, outside the galactic rim, is unstated. There is much, in other words, to make one question the article. But since high octane speculation is our trademark here, I have included this story in this week's blogs because, when I read it, there was something that leaped off the page, and made me shudder. So, in spite of my extreme skepticism about this story, see if you discover the same lines, and have the same reaction:
Now that you've had time to read the article, let's recapitulate. It begins with an outline of the claim:
Interestingly enough, one of those files featured an article originally published in the Weekly World News (September 15, 1998 Vol 19 No. 51) with a story about how NASA detected, intercepted, and decoded a mathematically-based distress signal from a purportedly doomed planetoid outside our own galaxy. Unfortunately, at the time the said article was published, in Weekly World News, it was not taken seriously because of that particular magazine's standing reputation of being a tabloid.
The signal was detected in January of 1998 but, however and as it might be expected, it took many months to properly decode the message.
At this juncture, the original Weekly World News article is then reprinted in its entirety, and I have italicized the portions that I considered chilling in their implications:
NASA experts claim to have intercepted an intergalactic distress call from an alien civilization that had already peaked and was actually dying when saber-tooth tigers still roamed the earth.
The 80,000-year-old SOS was received and digitally recorded in late January 1998.
But only in recent weeks have radio astronomers and language experts found the key to the complex mathematics-based language that enabled them to translate the 'frantic plea for help'.
The world press has been suspiciously silent about the startling message, though lengthy scientific reports are scheduled for publication in two professional journals, Radio Astronomy and Universe.
According to a highly placed NASA source in Houston, Texas, noted Russian space scientist Dr. Viktor Kulakov is leading a United Nations research team from a state-operated observatory 50 miles northwest of Moscow.
Dr. Kulakov told Universe that the signal emanated from a point beyond the galaxy nearest to our own, Andromeda, and was sent by beings that had apparently achieved a civilization no more advanced than our own here on Earth.
“The simple fact that we received and decoded the message proves beyond any doubt that their knowledge and technology were, at the very best, within our reach.” Dr. Kulakov explained.
“And while there are years of study ahead of us, I can say with certainty that the death of their civilization was not the result of some cosmic catastrophe. It was the result of the civilization turning on itself, possibly with devastating nuclear weaponry.”
Dr Kulakov flatly refused to provide either of the magazines with a transcript of the message, but he did say it began with the plea, “Help us,” and went on to give data pinpointing the exact position of the doomed planet.
There was a quite lucid account of apocalyptic devastation, hellish explosions, widespread death and terminal illnesses,” he said.
“A Shower of meteors? Perhaps. But what stikes me, and this is just a feeling, is an underlying acceptance of guilt. It’s as if the senders of the message are acknowledging blame for what happened.”
"Whatever it was, they apparently had no means to evacuate the remaining population. Interplanetary space travel was available to them, but only on a very limited level. The message makes it very clear that they were trapped on their world,” said Dr. Kulakov. (Emphasis added)
What I found disturbing here was the date: 80,000 years ago, a date that by some lights (not my own) would place it within the range of similar catastrophes here on Earth, suggesting not merely some catastrophe limited to this planet, or the distant Andromedan planet, but something inter-galactic. Now indulge me penchant for wild and bizarre speculations for a moment.
Assuming for the sake of argument that this story is true - and there have been similar stories from time to time over the years - then let us turn it on its head for a moment, and assume that Dr. Kulakov is correct, and that the distress call was not the result of a natural catastrophe. What he is suggesting, quite clearly, is that it is the result of a war, of a civilization turning upon itself in a nuclear conflagration. But what if this is not the case? What if the war was something else entirely? An invasion, or a civil war of an interplanetary civilization? What intrigues me about this scenario are the implications behind what little about the message is revealed in the article: the message appears almost uniquely human in character, and this too I find disconcerting, for it is a kind of confirmation of my suspicion, held for years, that we have "genetic cousins" out there, and that, for whatever reason, there is a power or force or species or race intent on our destruction, wherever we be found.
So what am I getting at here? Years ago i wrote The Cosmic War: Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics, and Ancient Texts, and when writing it, I struggled with powerful emotions of sadness and despair, that such destruction not only could be contemplated, but wielded. But reading this story, I begin to wonder, what if that cosmic war was, indeed, truly cosmic, that some distant planet was destroyed by some Andromedan Tiamat and Marduk? it's all too human-sounding message hits too close to home, even though it is from another galaxy, far far away, and a long time ago...
See you on the flip side...