Well, Would You?

What’s he up to now?

Sometimes, I think I think too much. Or, maybe it’s that I read too much. Yeah, that’s it. I blame it on the reading material. We all know that I don’t think enough as it is.

Some of the little bit of thinking I do has led me to consider whether you would, or would not. Say, what? That’s right. I just want to know if you would or would not. Would or would not what you’re probably wondering. Well, read on. You’ll understand in a minute, maybe two.

Avi Loeb, in the introduction of his book, extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, that was released in February of this year by Harcourt Press in Boston poses a couple of interesting questions. He asks his college students this:

“An alien spaceship has landed in Harvard Yard and the extraterrestrials make it clear that they are friendly. They visit, have their photographs taken on the steps of Widener Library, and touch the foot of the statue of John Harvard, as so many terrestrial tourists do. Then they turn to their hosts and invite them to climb aboard their spaceship for a one-way trip to the aliens’ home planet. It’s a little risky, they acknowledge, but what adventure isn’t?

“Would you accept their offer? Would you take the trip?”

Before you answer that question, bear in mind that these are now our friends. We would stay in contact with them—you just wouldn’t be able to return to earth due to the time it would take to travel there and back. Would you go spend the remainder of your life on another planet?

Are you wondering how the students answered? Just know that they are no smarter, nor adventurous, that average person–that average person being you. They just have the money to attend an Ivy League school.

Now, consider this. Mr. Loeb poses his question to his students again, but this time a little bit differently?

“The aliens remain congenial, but now they inform their human friends that rather than returning to their home planet, they are going to travel past the event horizon of a black hole. Again, it’s a risky proposition, to be sure, but the aliens have enough confidence in their theoretical modeling of what awaits them that they’re willing to go. What the aliens want to know is: Are you ready? Would you take the trip?”

Well, would you? Once you crossed the event horizon of a black hole there is no turning back. Nothing escapes. Not even radio transmissions. You would never again communicate with another soul on earth. Would you make the one-way trip? How do you think the Harvard students answered that one?

Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.