Film, Space

They Came. They Saw. They Planted.

A scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Carlos Ramos, depicting the monolith under the surface of the Moon.
A scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Carlos Ramos, depicting the monolith under the surface of the Moon.

In Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), when a strange object is discovered on the Moon, scientists go to investigate it. They arrive on Clavius, a U.S. lunar base, from where they then fly by a “rocket-bus” to the Tycho crater. Embedded in it, they find a black, rectangular, 11-feet-high slab, whose sides are built to the ratio 1:4:9.

The Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One (or T.M.A.-1), as they call it, has been built by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization that had developed intergalactic travel, when we weren’t even around. When it’s exposed to sunlight, it beams a radio signal to Jupiter.

In an interview with World Science Festival, Paul Davies—the man entrusted to speak for all of humankind if ever we do hear from aliens—explained the reason the monolith was placed there.

As a radio signal would take 100,000 years to travel from one end of the Milky Way (diameter: 100,000 light-years) to the other, we’d have to wait that long to get a reply from any society beyond it.

Therefore, to bypass that problem, when our cosmic visitors swung by our planet in the very distant past, they left behind this communication tool that’d be awakened by radio chatter from Earth—an indicator that they’d made contact with an emergent civilization. It could then have instantaneous conversation with us through this device as if it were a telephone.

Space Station V from "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Space Station V from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“2001: A Space Odyssey” also provided a great preview of what our future in space may look like. Space Station V was an orbiting space station in the shape of a rotating wheel, which was a way station on the journey from Earth to the Moon and other planets. It featured an orbital hotel, run by Hilton, a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, lavish lounge areas, and Picturephone booths.

h/t: WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL

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4 thoughts on “They Came. They Saw. They Planted.”

  1. Nice post. I once mentioned to a friend that since radio waves were about 100 years old, if anyone could hear us 50 light years away they would have answered already. Hence my conclusion that there was no-one in a 50 light-year radius. my friend, a radio engineer said that most if not all of our broadcast gets trapped in the higher atmosphere. So practially nothing gets out.
    There may then be someone closer than 50 light-years! 🙂
    (Great to read you. How’ve you been?)
    Take care
    Brian

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      1. About the broadcasts, I’m having lunch with my friend tomorrow. Typical sunday french lunch on the lawn, (they live outside Paris) If it stops raining!
        Bon week-end

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I double-checked with my friend this week-end. We worked together in Military Telecoms. Thalès. He an engineer, I on Marketing (!) He says some of the broadcast can go out. 🙂 But… Power (Watts) decreases by the square of distance. So… by the time one of our broadcasts has reached one light-year (about 6 trillionmiles) the power of the broadcast is reduced to mere whisper… 😦 All we can do is to keep listening: many satellites are. 🙂 Have a great week!
        Brian

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