Transformers: Less Than Meets The Eye


All my predictions regarding the new live action Transformers movie were correct. There was only one thing I didn’t expect, though: the token babe was hot! Having said that, for a Michael Bay movie, it was tolerable.

Odd, though, that all mainstream portrayals of super advanced aliens are rarely actually super advanced. In fact, most mainstream science fiction in general can’t seem to visualize technology more than 30 years into the future. This is strange considering that the wealth of imagination within science fiction novels gives clear indications for technological possibilities of the distant future.

I’m reminded of one particular naive but well-meaning friend who quipped one day that the atomic bomb is the most destructive thing human beings will ever build. Tsk tsk. The world of science fiction has inspired the world of theoretical physics –and vice versa– and the two have come up with a host of much more destructive possibilities. Here are a few:

  • First, the so-called atomic bomb is a fission device. We already have much more destructive fusion devices called hydrogen bombs, which are now the staple of any nuclear arsenal.
  • Sometimes called an impulse bomb or an acceleration bomb is a device that lets a small amount of anti-matter supercharge a fusion explosion/implosion. See, the energy from any nuclear detonation results from a tiny piece of matter being transformed into energy. Theoretically, minute amounts of antimatter could catalyze that process.
  • A full-on total conversion device, perhaps using several grams of antimatter could devastate an entire continent. Several tonnes of matter instantaneously and completely transformed into energy could kill all life on Earth in minutes.
  • A quantum black hole, small enough to be microscopic but as voracious as its galaxy-sized brothers could penetrate any shield and devour anything: flesh, machine, earth, matter, energy… anything. After consuming the entire planet, it might be big enough to be seen without a microscope.
  • A gravity lens is a device that could focus or reduce gravity in a localized fashion. Imagine being able to lift your enemy’s nation physically into space. How would it work? Lots of theoretical and fanciful methods have been proposed, some employing theoretical graviton particles, and others focusing the power of the aforementioned quantum black hole.
  • The last option I will mention is, I think, the most elegant: the relativistic missile. Imagine you could accelerate an object (say the size of an airplane) to a speed close to the speed of light, and crash it onto the surface of the Earth. At that speed, the object would likely experience total conversion into energy, resulting in the same outcome as the total conversion or antimatter device mentioned above: complete annihilation of all life on the planet.

The beauty of the relativistic missile, though, is that if it were launched from another planet, then by the time you see it, it’s already here. In other words, there is literally no possible defence.

Charles Pellegrino wrote a lot about the relativistic missile. He took its philosophy further, in a way responding to Carl Sagan’s pacifist ideas of the 1970s. See, Sagan had reasoned that all interstellar space faring civilizations would be necessarily peaceful and trustworthy because in order to get organized enough to venture into space, a society would first have to solve its internal issues.

Pellegrino, however, argued thusly:

  1. Vegetarians don’t become top dogs. In other words, only predatory, aggressive species rise to become the dominant life form on a planet.
  2. When push comes to shove, a species will always consider its own needs and advantages above those of others.
  3. They will assume the same of us.

With that mindset in place, Pellegrino further argued that given the potential existence of the relativistic missile, the only logical thing to do when discovering an alien species is to destroy it. Why? Because if they were to launch first, we’d be dead; and they’d be employing the same logic, thus would also choose to launch first.

According to his reasoning, this is what explains the lack of radio chatter in the universe: loud civilzations who have away their locations were quickly eliminated. The universe might be full of folk, but they’re all laying low.