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The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun

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The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun is a work of science fiction that I, Proxima Centauri, am writing. The story is fiction and I’m not suggesting for one moment that these aliens actually are round Proxima Centauri. It is very unlikely that two stars about 4 light years apart both have advanced civilizations at about the same level of technical development. If life is possible round red dwarf systems I hope these aliens are possible somewhere. At least I’m trying to make them possible.

Anthropomorphism

The Centaurian bodies are not at all like human bodies but their behaviour is like our behaviour in many cases as are their feelings. In each case I have found reasons why that behaviour could evolve under natural selection. None the less I suspect it may be unlikely that real aliens would be so like us in so many different respects.

Chapter 1

The things that crawled out of the slime on the planet Porrila

Why are the Aliens so heirarchical? Do they have to be like that?
No they don't have to be so heirarchical. None the less dominance heirarchies have evolved independently many times among animals and birds of Earth. Therefore this is plausible for Aliens. Note:The basic rules of dominance and submission are the same as on Earth. Dominant individuals can use resources that subordinates can't share without permission. Dominant individuals signal dominance by making themselves look big and powerful. Subordinate individuals signal that they are not a threat by bowing down, making themselves look small and insignificant. The biggest difference here is that mud is highly valued among the Centaurians while humans don't value it. If as is assumed the Aliens evolved in swamps like river deltas this love of mud is also plausible.

Is mud dangerous for the Aliens, are they at risk of infection?
Mud is no more dangerous for them than for the many swamp dwelling animals of Earth. They have evolved immune systems that can handle any infections in swamps.

Our ancestors evolved in African rain forests. If humans had evolved in, for example the Amazone River delta we could have been like the Centaurians with respect to mud.

Chapter 2

Commentary on The First Human Spaceship hasn’t yet arrived on Porrila.

Could aliens and humans cooperate together?
That depends on how different they are from us. It’s not impossible we could cooperate with aliens.

Would aliens be curious about us?
We are curious about our environment. That way we find out information which sometimes helps us to survive and reproduce. Many humans are very curious about the possibility of alien life. Again they might well be curious about us.

Would we and the aliens want to meet?
We and they may or may not want to meet and interact together. That would depend on how similar we are to the aliens and whether we or they trigger the wish for social interaction in the other.

Would aliens feel compassion for us with our problems?
They might have compassion for us. We sometimes feel compassion for injured animals or birds, gardeners even feel an urge to look after a weak plant that is struggling to survive. We can love something that is as different from us as a computer. We may or may not be sufficiently like an alien that they feel sorry for us when we have problems. We cannot know.

Would aliens want to help us?
That’s an important question and we cannot find out the answer. If we ever encounter superior aliens the future of humanity could depend on whether they want to help us or to harm us. How have humans with stronger technology treated other human groups with weaker technology? Answer. Sometimes we helped them, other times we enslaved them or launched genocidal war. If aliens are like us they could do either. If aliens are not like us we cannot begin to work out what they will do. Fortunately the earth probably will not be very useful to aliens. Aliens will probably prefer to live in space stations where they can duplicate conditions of their home planet better. If we ever meet aliens how they treat us might depend on whether they evolved from animals like the gentle, cooperative Bonobo or the aggressive, bullying Common Chimpanzee. Again trying to guess how our alien contacts might have evolved to that extent is impossible though bonobo-like aliens are less likely to destroy themselves before they have a chance to meet us.

Chapter 3

Commentary on The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun/3 It's not altogether nice

Could aliens behave like the bullying alien in this section?
If the aliens have dominance hierarchies they might behave that way. Humans are certainly capable of treating fellow human beings as badly as the story suggests the alien behaves. There’s no particular reason to think that it’s in any way likely.

Could Ramjets and Beam Propulsion be combined in the same craft?
I don’t know. I’m not an engineer. To me the idea looks promising and if it works it could quite possibly advance interstellar travel by 50 years or so. As least I’ve seen it and I’m human. No alien is going to tell us that we’ve missed the obvious now.

If combining the 2 propulsion systems works it can only work during the acceleration phase as far as I can see. If the beam used for beamed propulsion accelerates the interstellar medium as I suspect then during the deceleration phase the accelerated interstellar particles could keep pushing the starship to go faster if both were combined. Engineers should look at this I’m not sure about it. There are 2 possibilities for deceleration as far as I can see. One or other of the 2 engines would have to be switched off.

The starship could go out of the beam and use the ramjet only for deceleration. Deceleration would be harder than acceleration with only one engine working. Away from the beam the drag from the interstellar medium would help to slow the starship down which at that stage is what we want. If alternatively the ramjet is switched off and only the beam is used to decelerate the beam will cause less drag. As I’m not an engineer I don’t know if drag is a problem at all with beamed propulsion.

As I see it combining the 2 propulsion systems could work very well for an unmanned fly by mission. An unmanned starship could fly past a star system relatively fast and still transmit data back to Earth. The experts say that a Bussard ramjet works more efficiently when it’s travelling fast. After the starship has collected data on one star the scientists can put the ramjet into acceleration mode again and go on to a second star. Can we go straight from Proxima Centauri to the Alpha Centauri system?

External links

Chapter 4

Commentary on The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun/4 The Verdict

Would aliens use prison to punish other aliens who have broken rules?
Aliens may or may not do this. Incarcerating criminal aliens is one possible way of preventing them committing further crimes.

Those who study evolutionary theory believe that Reciprocity is likely to evolve frequently. That means aliens may well reward altruistic acts by humans or by other aliens and may punish harmful acts.

Would aliens apologise to us?
Reciprocity may or may not lead to this. In this story we imagine that the aliens and humans have been in contact for decades. The aliens may well know enough about us to know that we expect an apology in such a situation.

How likely is it that the alien language would be difficult to translate?
Years ago on television I watched a programme with human speech shown on a sound spectrograph. The sound spectrographs of simple English sentences were shown. There is no way that I could have recognised those very common English words using only the spectrograph. Differences in sound that I could hear clearly involved minute differences in the sound spectrograph. The part of my brain that analyses language, possibly my ears as well evolved to recognise and differentiate different sounds that are parts of speech. I have not evolved the capacity to understand spectrographs. If humans and aliens try and talk to each other understanding what the other says might be as difficult as analysing the spectrograph. We have not evolved to understand alien speech and they have not evolved to understand our speech. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk to each other. If we ever encounter real aliens human scientists will undoubtedly put a great deal of effort into learning their speech.


Part 2 Chapter 1

Commentary on The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun/5 He cried because….

Would an alien who has broken a rule feel guilty? Would aliens have a moral sense?
Not necessarily. None the less humans cannot live together in a society without morality. If aliens can live together in communities either they have a sense of right and wrong or they have other social inhibitions that prevent them doing what we call wrong acts too often.

Could an alien be completely soft bodied without any internal or external skeleton?
When I first started writing “The Aliens of the Flaming Red Sun” I thought a land dwelling or amphibious alien would need some type of skeletal support though water dwelling aliens may be soft bodied as the intelligent octopuses of Earth are. Then I came across this picture of an octopus escaping through a small gap and I thought soft bodied animals can compete with other animals despite not having skeletal support. A soft bodied animal can get through small gaps to resources like food that hard bodied competitors cannot reach and similarly a soft bodied animal can escaped predators through small gaps where the predators cannot follow.

Could my amphibious Centaurians have evolved in dense areas like Papyrus swamps or Mangrove swamps? Mangroves on Earth grow in intertidal waters and tides that ebb and flow predictably are very unlikely on a planet like Porrila with captive rotation. The only way I feel Porrila can have tides is if a previously free orbiting planet was captured relatively recently becoming a moon of Porrila and there has not been time for the moon to develop fully captive rotation. Despite this water levels that change erratically and unpredictably are very likely on Porrila. The authors who wrote, Aurelia envisaged a massive storm at the point where light from the Red Dwarf star shines directly down with smaller hurricanes splitting from this central storm and moving outwards. Water levels could easily rise dramatically if a major storm has just rained on some area or has recently rained upstream of an area and similarly water levels could fall if there have been fewer storms and less rain than usual in an area. So dense plants like Papyrus or Mangroves could evolve on a planet like Porrila which gives an ecological niche for animals like the ancestors of my imaginary Centaurians.

I plan another leap of imagination, I imagined that the lignin that evolved on Earth did not evolve on Porrila, instead what supports plants there is weaker than lignin. Tall trees with a single trunk do not grow on Porrila, instead forests there are dominated by plants like bushes or shrubs of Earth with perhaps some smaller trees. A wide range of plants have many stems, each carrying only part of the plant’s photosynthetic apparatus so the weight is spread out. Again a soft bodied animal that can slip through dense thickets has an ecological niche. Even if something as strong as lignin has evolved on Porrila the forests there may still be dominated by small bushed with many stems. Smaller plants could more easily withstand the continual gales with periodic storms that would happen there. Further plants with many stems can survive if one or even a few stems break during a storm while trees with a single trunk tend to die if they are uprooted or the main trunk is broken during a storm. See Weather conditions and habitability of Red dwarf star systems. Leaves may well be flexible but stiff stems could evolve despite the gales because a stiff stem can grow taller and hold its leaves above flexible competitors getting more light for itself.

The aliens could also have many jointed skeletons like the Starfish of Earth. They could have some arms with many jointed skeletal framework and soft tentacles as well. The story describes them as soft bodied but the story would not need much alteration if they were starfish like.

Chapters 3 to 5

Could aliens have religious beliefs?
Aliens might have religious beliefs or they might not, we don’t know enough. In this story I think it’s fun to imagine that at least some aliens believe in a type of god.

Could aliens be sadistic?
As explained above in the commentary to Chapter 3 if aliens have dominance hierarchies sadism is possible.

See also

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