Star Trek always has been one of my favorite TV shows. From the original series to the more recent Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager episodes, I don’t think I missed any of them.
This is an unusual Monday Mayhem post, as it’s a story about my love for the Gene Roddenberry classic and the questions it posed about alien life forms.
I’ll never forget one winter evening in the early 90s when Star Trek: The Next Generation used to be in reruns on TV. I had just gotten home from a college class and I’d settled into watching some TV before going to bed. It must have been slightly after nine and my snack of choice was a big bag of chips. About a month before, my parents also had purchased a new 27-inch Sony TV. For the time, when the standard was twenty-five inches for a tube TV, we were at the cusp of technology.
Anyway, about halfway through an episode, there was a scene where Picard, the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, had requested “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” from his quarters’ replicator. Think of the replicator as a very quick 3D printer. In the scene, he then takes his tea and sits behind his desk reading on a tablet.
I remember thinking, “It would be amazing to have one of those tablets to read from.”
Here we are now, almost thirty years later: 60-inch widescreen TVs are standard, tablets are the norm for reading, and 3D printers have gained in popularity, soon ready for purchase at reasonable consumer prices.
Is this Star Trek? We’re getting there.
Besides future technology in the present, Star Trek had also introduced aliens of various sorts and how the United Federation of Planets expressed tolerance by not interfering with alien domestic matters. Two things I’ve learned I soon would not want to forget because of the TV show’s influence: 1) humanity has yet to encounter an alien, although scientists did find sea plankton on the outer surface of the International Space Station, and 2) humanity is anything but tolerant when it comes to anything it doesn’t understand.
At this point, the first North American colonists come to mind, but that’s another story.
Thinking about aliens, and if they do exist, I’d assume they’d have a higher intelligence than humanity. For instance, they’d have to know quantum physics in order to travel the vastness of space to reach the little corner of our galaxy. They’d also have to have a certain set of governance laws that would dictate their actions toward us, much like Star Trek’s Prime Directive, which is a simple hands-off rule.
In all practicality, though, let’s think about this for a second. If there are aliens out there, much as described in the Star Trek shows, what’s to say they haven’t already arrived having taken a hands-off approach to our civilization? It would make sense—if, in fact, they are more intelligent than any one of us. They would qualify as true observers of the human condition.
In addition, let’s say they are observing us. Who’s to say they haven’t discovered that in the midst of humanity’s short history lay civilizations burnt to the ground all in the name of progress? Moreover, let’s say they’ve learned that progress also goes by another name, that name being war, and being of higher intelligence than any one of us combined, what if they’ve decided to reside in the shadows to see where we go with our progress?
With humanity’s destruction of the planet’s resources, environmental pollution and wars, of course, can anyone blame them for hiding?
Perhaps we’re not as close to real advancement as we think—at least not according to Star Trek’s mythology.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.
Have you watched any of the Star Trek episodes? What do you find appealing about the show.
23 thoughts on “Do Aliens Exist?”
Im watching Trek as I type this. We look to our skies for alien life when over ninety-percent of our oceans are undiscovered, whose to say they’re not already here.
I’d like to think aliens are out there, but space and time are infinite. We may never cross paths or they may exist in a completely different era of time to us. And seeing as we’re nowhere near a form of intergalactic travel yet, we’ll have to rely on them finding us. Hope they’re not evil if they do arrive…
Reminds me of my favorite Next Generation episode where they discover the long-dead aliens who “seeded” the galaxies with their DNA, explaining why all the aliens humans have met are humanoids too!
And usually speak perfect English 🙂
haha that’s right
Kept thinking about “Who Watches the Watchers” TNG episode. Always enjoyed that one.
I believe there could be aliens – God is very creative!
“Here we are now, almost thirty years later . . . [since TNG]” Oh, goodness, please don’t remind me, Jack! 🙂 My heart is with TNG and DS9, but I grew up watching reruns of the original series and all the movies (save for the very newest; I have to admit to old-fogie tendencies, not sure I like the new ensemble). Last week, I was actually writing a/an (as-yet-unpublished) sci-fi haiku about a certain original episode’s impact on me. Hmm, maybe I’ll try to finish that up. I fear, as Zathra (and others like Dr. deGrasse Tyson) said, that any aliens might have kept on trucking past this pale blue dot! Now, bacterial life, I think even more likely. Or, perhaps, eventually, manipulative aliens a la “They Live.”
Or extra – terrestrials crash – landing on Earth like the Tenctonese – Newcomers in ” Alien Nation “, both movie & series. ” Alien Nation ” was totally under – rated.
If extra – terrestrials exist & if they’re sufficiently socially & technologically advanced, they may decide that we aren’t. We still persecute others because of their religion or the lack thereof, sexuality, political leanings, & we still abuse Earth’s resources.
Any space – faring culture / society will see that, plain as day.
I like the “Warp Standard” as one of the main green lights for first contact. After seeing all the episodes I think where they encounter cultures that have such bizarre ethics and moral codes it’s a wake up call that our norm isn’t someone else’s. Enterprise did that a lot. (Pushed our boundaries)
I liked Data and I grew up on Reading Rainbow, so Levar Burton was one of my favorites. Anyway, I saw a quote over the weekend: “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” (Bill Watterson).
We’re plainly NOT advanced enough to contact yet, technologically OR socially. Any civilization capable of monitoring us would say ” Do Not Touch. Yet. “.
I’m wondering if ‘yet’ would even be added. We appear to be a rather violent, immature, and self-destructive species considering we can’t even get along with other humans. I wouldn’t be surprised if aliens are simply waiting for us to either wipe ourselves out or cause so much trouble that only a handful are around. Then we get put in intergalactic zoos or involved in an endangered species breeding program.
Maybe L. Ron Hubbard was right ( Snort, chuckle…..:) ) He had humans / early man being the vessels of the souls / psyches of what we would refer to as ” political prisoners ” & malcontents, deviants, criminals from another world, exiled to Earth, if what I’ve read is correct.
I think I read that, but I laughed too much when the writer of the article said it was true.
L. Ron did all that on a bet, so the story goes. Hard to believe.
I know. You’d think if it was a bet that it wouldn’t get so far.
L. Ron took it very seriously. Construct the basic tenets of a UFO – based religion in 24 hours. As an aside, I also heard there was / is a cult based on Glen Larson’s original Battlestar Galactica.
I think Firefly is a few steps away from being a religion. At least going by some of my friends who are fans.
I too grew up with Star Trek. It help to form the person I am today. The big message of the series? (in my humble opinion) It is hope.
I love Star Trek (watched The Original Series when I was growing up) and I love this post. Thank you.
For me it was Piccard. A thinker who was surrounded with people and tech. The fury of Warf, the tech of Jordie, the intuition of the empathic woman and freshness of the boy. Actually all in one. Parts of the whole. And then there is Ryker. His number one. Great show and writing above par.