|Lovell Telescope: Listening to Outer Space|
Amongst the bleak headlines you may not have noticed that on Friday a momentous meeting took place at St Andrews in Fife, where UK astronomers launched a network to coordinate the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life.
We Brits, as well as the Americans, are now OFFICIALLY LISTENING HARD for radio signals from non-human lifeforms, with the help of seven radio telescopes, connected by optical fibres, stretching from Cambridge to the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank in Manchester.
|In what language are the strange marks on the Skiapod's foot?|
The news has revived my old irritation at the assumption that Ex-Terrestrials consist of metal or plastic. The ancient Spartan poet Alcman knew that aliens (in his day resident in ‘Libya’, the archaic Spartan equivalent of Outer Space) resembled humans. The difference was that they had an outsize foot they could use as an umbrella-cum-parasol. They were called ‘skiapods’ or ‘shade-footed ones’.
I am de-mob crazy after delivering my two FINAL (yippee!) conference papers of the season. They were on Greek history in relation to Sci-Fi and Sparta respectively. This dangerous combo, along with the heat, produced a vision in which it was revealed to me that the Skiapods mentioned by Alcman wrote messages on the soles of these feet which could be read by non-human life-forms who really were in outer space.
This means that Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds were talking to Extra-Ts in Singing in the Rain (in the movie you NEVER saw what was inscribed on the top surfaces of the umbrellas). There can be no doubt in the case of Rihanna. Her Umbrella lyrics prove she is singing to off-planet aliens: ‘You're part of my entity, here for infinity/You can stand under my umbrella/(Ella ella eh eh eh).’ I offer as proof this important photograph, provided by G. Poynder (age 13).
|Is Rihanna A Skiapod or Just in Contact with one?|
If the good weather persists, we could all aid the search for extra-terrestrial life by writing messages on the parasols in our pubs and gardens. But what words should we inscribe? What do Ex-Ts actually speak?
‘Communication expert’ Dr John Elliott of Leeds Metropolitan University upset the St. Andrews conference by explaining that ‘Any message is unlikely to be written in Martian English.’ He also reminded them that ‘we still have scripts from antiquity that have remained undeciphered over hundreds of years, despite many serious attempts.’
|Dr Elliott, Reader in Intelligence Engineering|
Leaving aside the likelihood that some of those scripts may well have been invented by Skiapods, the safest bets for us today are probably Latin and Chinese. Here is a translation of ‘IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?’ into both: estne quisquam extra? / 有没有人在那里？ An average-sized umbrella should accommodate both phrases without difficulty.