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Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Damned United

I am so really I am. We...are...not...alone. Out there, in space is a huge building site. It's so big it makes Cross Rail seem like a Hornby "00" train set.

The imaginatively named KIC 8462852 is located 1,480 light-years away. The Kepler space telescope has been focused on this little beauty since 2009 and what it's seen is very exciting. It's all to do with the light intensity from the star that the telescope records. If the light signal  fluctuates it can be due to an object passing in front of the star and dimming its intensity. There are a whole set of different changes in luminosity that can be caused by various events occuring in the star's proximity. 

The thing is the signal from this star is so unusual it does not fit into any of the expected natural explanation - God, Melvyn Bragg would go ape  if this were on " In Our Time". Indeed, some of the natural explanations are so unlikely that scientists have suggested that what's blocking the star light is a huge artificial construction. Think "Iceberg" developments in Kensington and Chelsea. 

What could this be? Who knows. The original "Star Trek" movie had a moronic computer program on one of the early US space probes -Voyager 6 - reprogrammed by aliens to discover all it could about the universe and return home. In the process it created an enormous edifice which swept up all before it as it desperately tried to find meaning to its existence. I doubt if it's that...

It could be an alien civilisation's own property boom. "Affordable" homes built by speculators as a result of galactic quantitative easing and investors desperately seeking the best yield. A huge migration of fellow aliens from the outer planets of the system seeking work, the good life and somewhere to live - bit like people in the North of England moving to London. 

A less than happy possibility is that this huge structure is an escape vehicle. Mass migration of a planet's entire population. Bit like "Interstellar" but more realistic. A dying planet...or a planet fed up with their equivalent of Facebook, Twitter etc, where life has ground to a halt because no one has time to anything else but blog and tweet, making life unbearable.

An even worse explanation is that this huge structure is the equivalent of a galactic combine harvester (see Star Trek: The Voyage Home), sweeping up civilisations across space to feed some gargantuan appetite whose mouth gapes at the centre of a distant galaxy.  

My favourite speculative idea is that this is the inevitable evolutionary outcome of the link up with Sky and the Premier League. Football has become a trans galactic phenomena, with audiences in the trillions. The interstellar equivalent of Diego Costa able to buy a whole planet with one week's wages. The huge structure periodically obscuring star KIC 8462852 is the host system's new stadium for the Inter Galactic Football Federation's inaugural Stellar Cup ( sponsored by Googleplex and AppleCore). 

Then again, it could simple be a huge cloud of cosmic dust....seeding the inner planets with complex organic compounds that will eventually evolve over millennia into Melyvn Bragg!

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