Five Reasons a Galactic Federation Might Want to Remain Secret

Would a Galactic Federation of aliens really want to remain secret? Former Israeli space chief Haim Eshed said that was the case in a recent interview where he declared that he had no only seen evidence of aliens, but a whole galactic civilization. The extraterrestrials, he claimed, had contacted the US and Israeli governments, and President Trump himself was on the verge of revealing their existence before being cautioned not to.

According to the 87-year-old space expert, the extra-terrestrial civilization requested their existence not be announced to the public: both to prevent mass hysteria and to give humans time to evolve and truly grasp the meaning of space travel. Further details, including a secret base on Mars, are available in his new book: The Universe Beyond the Horizon — conversations with Professor Haim Eshed.

Some might say this is all one giant publicity stunt.

But supposing it’s not, would it make sense for aliens not to want to contact humanity? And if they’re out there, why haven’t we detected them with out telescopes and scientific instruments? After all, the galaxy is a huge place, home to hundreds of billions of stars and likely more enough planets to set aside a dozen for each human on Earth. We should presumably be bombarded by interstellar chatter.

This is the heart of a puzzle that has fascinated scientists for decades, now referred to as the Fermi Paradox. The paradox is named after Enrico Fermi, an Italian American scientist whose name was also used for one of America’s great national laboratories: Fermilab in Illinois.

Put simply, there are many, many stars in our galaxy the milky way, and many planets orbiting them, and a large fraction of these stars are billions of years older than Earth. Many should have had the chance to develop advanced civilizations well before we have, yet we see evidence of none.

There are many possible explanations for the paradox, including a finite lifetime for civilizations, as well a “shy” aliens, which seems to be the case Professor Eshed is claiming. But why would aliens be shy? Surely their technology far exceeds our own. And assuming they know about us, they haven’t rushed to conquer our planet due to want for resources.

Here are some potential reasons they might want to keep quiet:

1. The Dark Forest Theory, as described in Cixin Liu’s book, The Three Body Problem — According to this theory, there are possible technologies that are so advanced and dangerous that space-faring civilizations prefer to hide from each other, like creatures in a dark forest. Whether one imagines Death Stars, the Borg, or something more sinister, it might be wise to keep communication on the down-low, even if an interstellar civilization ran into us.

2. The Galactic Nature Preserve — It could be that space-travel is common and that there are metropolises where sentient octopuses share coffee with Wookies and Grays. However, just like humans here on Earth, they may want to set aside parts of the galaxy as places where simpler life can grown and flourish on its own. It’s possible that extraterrestrials in such a scenario much contact humans much like anthropologists visits tribes deep in the rain forest, with an intent to learn and gather information without disturbing the locals.

3. A Planet-size Petri Dish — Earth and its inhabitants could be part of a vat experiment. This could mean a sort of Truman Show, like Jim Carrey describes in his memories, or something more grand: an evolutionary test on a planet-wide scale.

4. We’re Really Not Ready — This is perhaps closest to the scenario that Haim Eshed describes. Essentially, it would mean that the knowledge that comes with joining the Galactic Federation might be too much for our young civilization to handle. It could be that there are even more dangerous technologies than nuclear weapons that we might accidentally use to harm ourselves or our planet. Or it could be that there are philosophical and religious implications, both about our place in the universe and our destinies as individuals and a species.

5. The Prime Directive — In Star Trek, the Galactic Federation only contacts civilizations that have developed broken the ‘warp barrier’ and learned to travel faster than the speed of light. In principal, this allows young civilizations time to grow and evolve, without interference from their space-faring neighbors.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the universe remains a fascinating place for scientists and laypeople alike. Even if we learn the truth about aliens civilizations or the Fermi Paradox, many questions will ultimately remain and there will certainly be places — and ideas — to inspire young minds for the foreseeable future.



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Ryan Walraven, PhD

I’m a physics postdoc, writer, and photoshopper who likes to send cats into space.