The Ancient Alien Question  Published by New Page Books To order,

visit the store   Proclaiming the new science of astroforensics
by Philip Coppens
  British physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, a professor at Arizona State University, has published “Footprints of alien technology” in Acto Astronautica, the journal of the International Academy of Astronautics. In 2005, Davies became the chairman of the SETI: Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup of that organization. In this scientific publication, he argues that “We must not overlook the possibility that alien technology has impacted our immediate astronomical environment, even Earth itself, but probably a very long time ago.” He asks what traces, “if anything”, might remain of such presence, and focuses on biological, geological and physical traces.

In short, Davies is arguing that there might be evidence of “ancient aliens” on or near planet Earth and he is urging his colleagues to go in search of it. Of course, Davies uses the term “astroforensics”, rather than “ancient aliens” – some newspeak is required, if only because otherwise, his suggestion would never be met with any openness from his academic colleagues. In general, the article is further evidence that Davies is a true scientist: a man who tries to expand the boundaries of knowledge and scientific exploration.

In recent years, NASA has moved away from SETI as the main engine to search for intelligent life in the universe and towards astrobiology. As chairman of the SETI taskforce of the IAA, it is interesting that Davies too now argues that SETI is too bespoke in its efforts to answer the question of whether or not there are extraterrestrial civilizations. He feels that we should expand the search, “to cover footprints of alien technology in the most general sense, including indirect evidence.” He argues that “we should mobilize the entire scientific community to ‘keep their eyes open’ for telltale signs of alien technological activity.” In short, Davies is inviting Science to embrace the search for ancient aliens, which is quite a courageous act.

Though Davies is more than willing to consider that our Earth has been visited in the past by an extraterrestrial civilization, he also believes that it is “extremely unlikely” that this contact took place “within the period of human habitation of Earth, and is likely to have happened hundreds of millions or even billions of years ago.” So what Davies is currently suggesting, is still quite different from the “Ancient Aliens” suggestions. This is remarkable, for what forty years of ancient alien investigations have shown, is that there are good indicators that we were visited by ancient aliens “within the period of human habitation of Earth”, and the likes of Carl Sagan, one of the great proponents of SETI, agreed.

Still, the approach which Davies suggests as to how and where to search for “footprints” of this technology are of interest to the “standard” ancient alien approach: nuclear waste, large-scale mineral processing or geo-engineering, biotechnology and artifacts.

Nuclear waste that is potentially from prehistoric times, of course, has been found in certain parts of India, and linked with the possibility of the best evidence for an ancient ET presence. The discovery is all the more intriguing as there are references in the Mahabharata, which relates stories of incredible warfare in the sky, and killings on planet earth occurring in the very region where this nuclear material has been identified. It is one of the topics I tackled in “The Ancient Alien Question”. But it also seems that Davies has read or is aware of the theories of Zecharia Sitchin, for he argues that some genetic changes might have occurred to man for a better use of our species for mining purposes. Why alien visitors would specifically be interested in mining and create or adapt homo sapiens to suit this purpose, is something largely confined to the thinking of Sitchin, and for Davies to pick up on this line of thinking, suggest exposure to Sitchin’s material. Irrelevant of this possibility, Davies argues that evidence of alien tampering with terrestrial genomes might be buried in genetic data and urges science to look more closely for potential evidence. Davies’ suggestion is very much on par with the SETI@Home, in which computer users were invited to help scan the data received through SETI for signs of alien life. Davies suggests the same technological approach should be used in searching the human genomes.

Of course, the most direct and best evidence of an ancient alien presence would be artifacts or “messages in a bottle”. This is precisely the approach taken by the ancient alien researchers, when they point out anomalies in structures like the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Puma Punku in Bolivia and various other monuments on our planet. But as Davies sees ET’s presence far further back in time, he therefore states: “Conventional construction work on Earth’s surface would be most unlikely to survive 100 million years of tectonic activity, glaciation, weathering, cosmic impacts, etc.” Thus, he argues, “if an alien expedition wished to leave a clear message for posterity right here on Earth, a good way of doing that would be to upload the message into the genomes of terrestrial organisms”. Later, he adds that his idea is a “wild and fanciful one”, but that it is easily investigated and that research should therefore be taken up.

Davies also acts as scientific sociologist, stating that” to profess belief in extraterrestrial life of any sort, let alone intelligent life, in the 1960s and 1970s, was tantamount to scientific suicide.” Today, he argues there has been a mood change. Specifically, he believes that “if we discovered a second sample of life that we could be sure had arisen from scratch […] then the case for the cosmic imperative would be immediately made”, adding that “remarkably little attention has been paid to the possibility of weird (i.e. non-standard) life on Earth.” Of course, in 2010, Wolfe-Simon might have precisely discovered just that in Mono Lake and Davies is well aware of this discovery as he was one of the authors on Wolfe-Simon’s controversial article. Though her findings could not be described as “sure”, they are definitely indicative of being correct. At the same time, science’s reception of her material was not as open as Davies might assume science to be right now on the topic of intelligent life, but I would argue his stance is evidence of his positive attitude.

The paper concludes by proclaiming that” if we also obtain evidence of alien technology, then not just life, but mind, could also be regarded as a fundamental, as opposed to incidental, cosmic phenomenon.” Though Davies’ paper is by no means in depth or exhaustive, it is a brave attempt by an open-minded scientist to invite his colleagues to look for evidence of alien life on planet Earth. He has proposed for calling this quest “astroforensics” and one can only hope that some of his colleagues will take up the invitation. But based on the reaction of Science when it comes to the subject of ancient aliens, I think Davies might need lots of courage and patience, but if it was easy, another scientist would probably have already done what he is trying to do!