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Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 10:01 AM
I am a research biologist by profession, but in my free time (hah!) I am writing science fiction novels under a pseudonym. In my current work -under -construction a basic premise is that our world more than 20.000 years ago was visited by an alien life form interested enough to hang around for a while and leave a number of very advanced AI robotic probes around. They are not supposed to have had any really major influence on human history or development so far, and are by no means all-powerful or all-knowing.

Now, you may think it more or less implausible, but for the sake of this novel, just assume this actually happened. However, I am extremely unimpressed by the likes of von Daniken, and me being neither an astronomer nor a historian, I would rather enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic:

One person in the book will list a number of real historical events, archeological findings or unexplained curiosities as facts that could be seen as consistent with this idea. What would (s)he say? What sort of "evidence" could this person list that you would consider the least cringe-worthy? There is obviously no good evidence in the real world demonstrating any version of the "ancient astronomer" hypothesis, so I am simply looking for things that could be listed without sounding obviously wrong or stupid to the well-informed and skeptical. Any ideas are more than welcome.






(Edit: And should any moderator deign to do so, I would be really grateful for anyone correcting my annoying typo in the thread title that I noticed too late to change myself. I apologize.)

Tog
2012-Aug-20, 10:46 AM
For years, I've had a "for fun" theory about one type of dinosaur achieving sentience and leaving the earth. They redirect a large asteroid to smash into the land mass later legends will call "Atlantis" which destroys all traces of their civilization.

These dinos return from time to time and pull human up to see what sort of life evolved after they handed over the keys, so to speak. Some of those tests included things like Stonehenge, Newgrange, and Maes Howe in the British Isles, and Serpent Mound and the Nazca Lines in the Americas. None of these structures have any purpose you see. They were constructed by the aliens as a type of psychological experiment to see what the future beings would think they were.

If you want to use that, feel free to adapt it however you like.

Strange
2012-Aug-20, 10:53 AM
The Yonaguni formation is almost certainly natural. But might not be ...

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 11:11 AM
The Yonaguni formation is almost certainly natural. But might not be ...Thank you! Precisely this kind of thing I am looking for.

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-20, 03:31 PM
You should seriously just make up things that sound plausible, but aren't historical at all. Since these alien probes were obviously sent before the development of modern human technology, they're presumably off studying some stuff unrelated to humans. Maybe they spend their time studying starfish underwater or fungal systems underground, and anything humans notice of them is incidental. The evidence could be in the form of unusual tracks or tunnels or something. Things that don't seem remarkable, and wouldn't even be recorded in human history. Human history records things which we humans think are important, but the vast majority of interesting things to record are simply not noted at all.

Rhaedas
2012-Aug-20, 04:14 PM
Or you can make up something that does influence our history, but allow it to be kept secret for all this time. Certainly plenty of people believe that conspiracies are perfect, and there's been books written with that very plot device used.

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 07:38 PM
You should seriously just make up things that sound plausible, but aren't historical at all. Since these alien probes were obviously sent before the development of modern human technology, they're presumably off studying some stuff unrelated to humans. Maybe they spend their time studying starfish underwater or fungal systems underground, and anything humans notice of them is incidental. The evidence could be in the form of unusual tracks or tunnels or something. Things that don't seem remarkable, and wouldn't even be recorded in human history. Human history records things which we humans think are important, but the vast majority of interesting things to record are simply not noted at all.

Absolutely. Good point. And this is what they mostly do. But, as I am doing a fairly hard-science story, I am looking to construct the most plausible case that could be made, things known to humans that someone could use as (speculative and corroborative) arguments without seeming a crackpot.

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 07:40 PM
Or you can make up something that does influence our history, but allow it to be kept secret for all this time. Certainly plenty of people believe that conspiracies are perfect, and there's been books written with that very plot device used.
Absolutely. But basing a theory on perfect conspiracies are among the giveaways for it being total hokum that I would want the person presenting the case to avoid, as (s)he is not a crackpot.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-20, 08:02 PM
Have you looked at using already extant (supposed) Out of Place Artifacts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-place_artifact)?

You can always mine religious experiences, especially theophanies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophany) for examples of alien visitation. There are plenty of historical and scientific cranks who might be described as crazy because they met aliens and tried to explain what they say and were labelled by unbelievers as nuts or crazy or as ahead of their time, like Tesla, da Vinci, Jules Verne, Hero of Alexandria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_of_Alexandria), Plato or Aristotle or Socrates, Merlin or Morgana or King Arthur, Buddha or Jesus or Moses or other religions leaders or prophets.

I myself have a half-finished treatment of a story where Santa Clause is an errant time-traveller.

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 08:07 PM
To take another tack, here are some candidate events where the real explanation may be so little understood that I am free to make up my own without being obviously wrong:
-The Tunguska meteorite (complete with old stories of fireballs and metallic structures in preindustrial Siberia).
-The Book of Enoch (religious bronze agers on shrooms, or someone really experiencing something beyond his vocabulary)
-The Dyatlov pass incident (now, THIS is good horror movie material. I am hoping to get funding to go here for something completely unrelated and then stay an extra day...)
-The Yonaguni formation (mentioned above).

The reason why I am not doing Stonehenge, the Pyramids etc. is that these have been shown to be well within the capabilities of historical human societies to make on their own, so the rational, skeptic, character making the case would not trot them out I believe.

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-20, 08:08 PM
Absolutely. Good point. And this is what they mostly do. But, as I am doing a fairly hard-science story, I am looking to construct the most plausible case that could be made, things known to humans that someone could use as (speculative and corroborative) arguments without seeming a crackpot.
I think it would be more plausible for humans to use current data rather than historical data. There simply isn't a whole lot of historical data compared to what has been observed in recent years, and that data is almost entirely stored in non-electronic form--any particular researcher could only be exposed to a tiny fraction of it.

So, for example, a modern researcher could use computer algorithms to search image data, that reveals unusual probe tracks in random diver photos, or photos from spelunkers.

I'm presuming that these probes have either been shut down for many thousands of years, or they are still doing whatever they have been doing for many thousands of years. This means they aren't just roaming around above ground over land, because they would have been noticed and followed by now (unless maybe they're really tiny). However, they could have been leaving behind tracks or "droppings" or jaw marks from "feeding" (either refueling or taking samples or both). Presuming these aren't some sort of "stealth" probes, they'd be leaving behind evidence of themselves wherever they go, like animals do. Even if the actual probes themselves aren't so likely to be spotted, the trails of evidence they leave behind could be more likely to be spotted.

I guess I'm saying--take inspiration from the sort of evidence we use to study ancient animals, like dinosaurs. The tracks are the easiest thing to find.

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 08:10 PM
Have you looked at using already extant (supposed) Out of Place Artifacts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-of-place_artifact)?

You can always mine religious experiences, especially theophanies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophany) for examples of alien visitation.

I myself have a half-finished treatment of a story where Santa Clause is an errant time-traveller.
Absolutely. I just need some plausible out-of-place artifacts, some that have not been conclusively shown to be frauds or misinterpretations yet. And theophanies are a goldmine, I am already drawing heavily on the Enochian litterature.
(And give me a clue if you finish your Santa Claus piece, sounds like something I might enjoy reading.)

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-20, 08:24 PM
To take another tack, here are some candidate events where the real explanation may be so little understood that I am free to make up my own without being obviously wrong:
-The Tunguska meteorite (complete with old stories of fireballs and metallic structures in preindustrial Siberia).
-The Book of Enoch (religious bronze agers on shrooms, or someone really experiencing something beyond his vocabulary)
-The Dyatlov pass incident (now, THIS is good horror movie material. I am hoping to get funding to go here for something completely unrelated and then stay an extra day...)
-The Yonaguni formation (mentioned above).

The reason why I am not doing Stonehenge, the Pyramids etc. is that these have been shown to be well within the capabilities of historical human societies to make on their own, so the rational, skeptic, character making the case would not trot them out I believe.

Okay, it seems that I'm going in a completely different direction than what you are thinking. You're looking for flashy mysterious events that are famous to humans.

What are you thinking that the probes are doing? Why aren't they doing flashy noticeable things all the time? How could they be doing unusual flashy things with enough frequency to have been noticed by ancient observers and not be observed all the time by modern observers? There are a heck of a lot more modern observers around, and extremely higher distribution of information about unusual observations. Consider the effect of the camera phone and the internet in the last decade alone.

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 08:36 PM
So, for example, a modern researcher could use computer algorithms to search image data, that reveals unusual probe tracks in random diver photos, or photos from spelunkers. (...)
I'm presuming that these probes have either been shut down for many thousands of years, or they are still doing whatever they have been doing for many thousands of years.
Great point! Obviously I should include some image data search. Rather unverifiable and easy to actually find something odd looking just from the sheer amount of data.

Also, the "probes" are mostly shut off after some of them malfunctioned and became a bit too independent, but some remain and, like many researchers, start to "anthropomorphize" (alien-morphize) their human research objects, taking interest in them (they are AIs so advanced they are indistinguishable from living beings, made to be independent and curious explorers).

Kyrre
2012-Aug-20, 08:38 PM
Okay, it seems that I'm going in a completely different direction than what you are thinking. You're looking for flashy mysterious events that are famous to humans.

What are you thinking that the probes are doing? Why aren't they doing flashy noticeable things all the time? How could they be doing unusual flashy things with enough frequency to have been noticed by ancient observers and not be observed all the time by modern observers? There are a heck of a lot more modern observers around, and extremely higher distribution of information about unusual observations. Consider the effect of the camera phone and the internet in the last decade alone.No, no, you are doing brilliantly. I would like to have a few flashy but not necessarily famous incidents, but these happen by accident or mistake, definitely not something they are doing all the time.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-20, 09:41 PM
Absolutely. I just need some plausible out-of-place artifacts, some that have not been conclusively shown to be frauds or misinterpretations yet. And theophanies are a goldmine, I am already drawing heavily on the Enochian litterature.There's more recent events that might be indicative of alien probe mechanics. The Vela Incident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_Incident) may be the result of a probe. You might use the idea of Rampancy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampancy#Rampancy) for your AIs along with their anthropomorphizing of their subjects (Stockholm Syndrome?).


(And give me a clue if you finish your Santa Claus piece, sounds like something I might enjoy reading.)

I'll let y'all know. I was thinking of it as a screenplay, but it might make an interesting short story.

Kyrre
2012-Aug-21, 06:33 AM
There's more recent events that might be indicative of alien probe mechanics. The Vela Incident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_Incident) may be the result of a probe. You might use the idea of Rampancy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampancy#Rampancy) for your AIs along with their anthropomorphizing of their subjects (Stockholm Syndrome?).
Thanks! I had never heard of the Vela incident, and rampancy is an interesting description of what happens to the "probes". The Vela incident fits nicely together with the odd sounds caught in the southern oceans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unexplained_sounds.

Strange
2012-Aug-21, 10:00 AM
Thanks! I had never heard of the Vela incident, and rampancy is an interesting description of what happens to the "probes". The Vela incident fits nicely together with the odd sounds caught in the southern oceans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unexplained_sounds.

And the Wow! Signal, maybe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_signal

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-21, 02:14 PM
No, no, you are doing brilliantly. I would like to have a few flashy but not necessarily famous incidents, but these happen by accident or mistake, definitely not something they are doing all the time.
In that case, these incidents should probably all occur within the last decade. Like I said, the effect of the camera phone and the internet has been to vastly increase the chances of something "interesting" being detected, recorded, and being made more generally known beyond the eye witnesses.

Otherwise, I think it more plausible that the evidence is in uninteresting forms. I gave the example of tracks, which wouldn't even be noticed by most observers.

Underwater sounds might also be appropriate, since the range of sound observations is so great and free swimming probes might not leave any tracks at all.

Seismic signatures could be appropriate for underground probes, since the range of seismic sensors can be great, and visual data of tracks would be relatively difficult to interpret. (Track data would mostly be available in the form of ancient tracks exposed to the surface due to geological activity.)

SkepticJ
2012-Aug-21, 05:53 PM
How big are these AI probes?

If you read Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation, you can get a good idea of just how small intelligent machines could be.

Is that a hornet, or an alien probe that is far smarter than you are?

KaiYeves
2012-Aug-21, 10:04 PM
Is that a hornet, or an alien probe that is far smarter than you are?

On the off chance it's the former, I'll give it due room anyway!

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-21, 10:05 PM
How big are these AI probes?

If you read Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation, you can get a good idea of just how small intelligent machines could be.

Is that a hornet, or an alien probe that is far smarter than you are?

Are those built for longevity in a corrosive environment?

SkepticJ
2012-Aug-21, 10:45 PM
Are those built for longevity in a corrosive environment?

Could be.

Mechanosynthetic nanotechnology is typically conceived as being constructed of diamond (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanosynthesis#Diamond_mechanosynthesis) or similarly durable materials.

Anything that is going to continue working for thousands of years, no matter what it is made of, would need highly redundant self-repair mechanisms. So they would be alive by the standards astrobiologists use, but they would be built of tougher stuff than we typically associate with living things, and could have other useful features (http://www.iase.cc/eechemistry.htm).

John Jaksich
2012-Aug-22, 02:49 PM
To take another tack, here are some candidate events where the real explanation may be so little understood that I am free to make up my own without being obviously wrong:
-The Tunguska meteorite (complete with old stories of fireballs and metallic structures in preindustrial Siberia).
-The Book of Enoch (religious bronze agers on shrooms, or someone really experiencing something beyond his vocabulary)
-The Dyatlov pass incident (now, THIS is good horror movie material. I am hoping to get funding to go here for something completely unrelated and then stay an extra day...)
-The Yonaguni formation (mentioned above).

The reason why I am not doing Stonehenge, the Pyramids etc. is that these have been shown to be well within the capabilities of historical human societies to make on their own, so the rational, skeptic, character making the case would not trot them out I believe.

I have an idea but I don't know if it will work. Lets say that your alien civilization established the means of translating language i.e. and some human stumbles upon the AI robot and builds the Rosetta tablet. The AI robot instructs the human to pass it on from its lofty perch on Mount of the holies---but drops the stone. Thus we have the Rosetta Stone as it currently resides.

Bynaus
2012-Aug-23, 10:24 AM
Interesting project, and interesting thread...


The Tunguska meteorite (complete with old stories of fireballs and metallic structures in preindustrial Siberia).

I would maybe not use that as well. Tunguska has been discussed so many times by so many (often fringe) authors... that it almost seems like a clichee to bring it up in that context. At least among the meteoritics & planetary science community (where I count myself in), you would get quite a lot of rolling eyes for that ("not again"). On the other hand, it would be hilarious if it, for once, went the other way around: the Tunguska event is proposed by one of your protagonists to have been caused by/related to the AI probes - but it turns out it was just an ordinary impact... :)

Unfortunately, I cannot contribute much more. You could of course also mention some objects on other worlds that might somehow be related. For example, the Phobos monolith comes to mind.

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-23, 02:02 PM
On the other hand, it would be hilarious if it, for once, went the other way around: the Tunguska event is proposed by one of your protagonists to have been caused by/related to the AI probes - but it turns out it was just an ordinary impact... :)

How about both? Maybe it turns out the Tunguska event was an ordinary impact, but it was also related to AI probes...because all such impactors are related to AI probes. Maybe all comets of suitable composition are infested with AI probes, but they're smart enough to recognize when their host body is doomed to impact something and leave beforehand (perhaps hidden among the comet tail). Nevertheless, meteorites from former comet cores might have evidence of AI probe tracks/tunnels, and maybe even remains of "dead" AI probes (although typically a "dead" AI probe would be recycled by being "eaten" by other "live" probes).

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-23, 09:15 PM
Could be.

Mechanosynthetic nanotechnology is typically conceived as being constructed of diamond (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanosynthesis#Diamond_mechanosynthesis) or similarly durable materials.

Anything that is going to continue working for thousands of years, no matter what it is made of, would need highly redundant self-repair mechanisms. So they would be alive by the standards astrobiologists use, but they would be built of tougher stuff than we typically associate with living things, and could have other useful features (http://www.iase.cc/eechemistry.htm).

Is the entire probe made of this material? Also, nano-adamantine mechs can perform computational tasks how? And how would the aforementioned perform self-repair?

eburacum45
2012-Aug-24, 06:43 AM
Diamondoid nanomachines might be able to use something called rod-logic
http://www.halcyon.com/nanojbl/NanoConProc/nanocon2.html
although I'm more than a little skeptical that these things would work on the very small scale, because of all the quantum nonsense that happens at that level. But that just means that the concept has an as-yet undefined lower limit in scale.

Personally I'm not too convinced of the utility of small-scale non-organic mechanochemistry on its own; I think there will always be an organic component to nanotechnology, just because organic compounds are so useful.

cjameshuff
2012-Aug-24, 05:53 PM
Appropriately doped diamond is also a semiconductor that could be used along with carbon fullerene structures for conventional electronics, and diamondoid structures could conceivably be used for optical computations. Not that it matters...other probable semiconductor materials like silicon, boron, nitrides, etc aren't all that prone to decay, materials that are susceptible to decay could still be protected within diamondoid shells, and a pile of "diatomaceous earth" composed of empty diamondoid nanite shells from a dead probe would still stick out as something not of likely Earthly origin.

Diamondoid components (microscopic or otherwise) with substantial carbon-14 content would be very interesting...it would mean they were formed at least in part from carbon obtained from Earth's biosphere within the last 50000 years or so. Significant variation in C-14 content among different samples would also be attention-getting. Partial oxidation of metals or organic compounds, dissolution of silicate components, etc could produce an independent means of dating them as well as making the evidence implausibly difficult to fake.

Other isotope oddities could hint at probable off-planet or advanced-technology origin. Pieces of metallic aluminum and titanium are also pretty certain evidence of advanced technology, which would make them a convincing find if you can eliminate the possibility of them being modern artifacts. And an orbital probe intended for eventual discovery might cover itself with materials that stick out in spectral observations...a copper hull, or a surface coated with titanium dioxide. Or perhaps radio "whistles", passive resonator cavities driven by the solar wind.

SkepticJ
2012-Aug-25, 02:07 AM
Is the entire probe made of this material? Also, nano-adamantine mechs can perform computational tasks how? And how would the aforementioned perform self-repair?

It's not one material.

Normal diamond is hard but brittle, so macroscopic elements would be composed of diamond with a micro/nano structure like nacre, or some sort of composite of graphene, carbon nanotubes, boron nitride, or perhaps materials we don't know about yet.

eburacum already answered this, but I'll follow on with that Drexler didn't say that rod logic would be used, but that it could be. It's the worst case scenario for how to build small computers.

One possibility is minute* robotic arms that have tool tips that mechanochemically pluck and place carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, aluminum, boron and other elements that are ideal to construct nanotechnology. When a part wears out or gets damaged by cosmic rays or whatever, pluck it apart and recycle the atoms back into a new one at the same place. There's massive redundancy, so others take up the slack while repair is going on.

Picture a fractal robotic arm (http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/project.archive/robot.papers/1999/NASA.report.99/) as the ultimate expression. The finest of its fingers could be multi-axis articulated "arms", trillions of them able to interact with a surface, plucking and placing atoms at gigahertz speeds.

There may be more elegant solutions than these that simply haven't been thought of yet--see the second link in my last post.

*say 100+ nanometers long

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-26, 04:56 AM
Okay, sounds like it might be plausible. That second link was long, I'll read it later, I just wanted the basic explanation.

publiusr
2012-Aug-27, 10:36 PM
You might use this event too: http://smu.edu/newsinfo/releases/01342.html
I jokingly suggested that a certain bollide might have been an extra-solar aerobrake maneuver: http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/16374-Grand-Teton-Event-was-Von-Neumann-Probe?

from kronk's:

"The first significant analysis of this fireball was published in Sky and Telescope during July 1974. It was written by Luigi G. Jacchia, a meteor expert at the Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, who just happened to witness the fireball from Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Tetons. Jacchia said he was initially impressed by the extraordinarily long 1,500 kilometer length of the object's path. He also pointed out that at the mid-point of the path sonic booms were heard in Montana and said this indicated the object was lower than 60 kilometers."

It was supposed to make a resonant return: http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/16374-Grand-Teton-Event-was-Von-Neumann-Probe?p=369467#post369467

Heck--we just had another of these: http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/amazing-meteor-boomerangs-around-earth.html

In your story, it would be an actual spacecraft that made it to the ocean then sunk.

SkepticJ
2012-Sep-07, 06:31 PM
Back to the OP, in my opinion you should just make stuff up from scratch. Tying aliens to real events/things always feels artificial and cheap to me.

To actually be evidence in favor of alien probes, there can't be more mundane explanations for whatever it is.

It's logically and physically possible that aliens shot TWA flight 800, but that's not a reasonable explanation.

cjameshuff
2012-Sep-08, 03:51 AM
Right. Evidence for an alien presence on Earth would be something quite extraordinary that has no other more mundane explanation. If you want someone suggesting a connection to not come off as a crackpot, you're going to have to invent some extra details to justify the connection. And if you're doing that, you're better off with something that real world crackpots haven't already been pushing as "evidence". In addition, you're really better off with something other people aren't already familiar with. Something that's pure fiction is far less likely to break suspension of disbelief than something that is in conflict with what the reader knows.

Gomar
2012-Sep-09, 02:15 AM
I had discussed this before, but the bible stories of Adam & Eve are in fact tales of alien colonists.
God(an alien commander or leader) sent his people to colonize or settle on Earth. Since no women
besides Eve are mentioned in the bible, where did Adam's sons get wifes?

Also, the Nephilim and angels are ifcourse alien visitors; Jesus was an alien who had medical knowledge
which he used to cure the sick; etc.

"Children of God mated with the daughters of man"

All these theories were used in books before, but go ahead use the bible as your source for
alien interference with humans.

John Jones
2012-Sep-15, 02:01 PM
The bible says that Adam and Eve had sons and daughters besides cain abel, and seth. Genesis 5:4, NIV

publiusr
2012-Oct-08, 09:29 PM
Heck--in terms of a resonant return--I wonder if this was teton
http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/amazing-meteor-boomerangs-around-earth.html

lpetrich
2012-Oct-18, 10:01 AM
I had discussed this before, but the bible stories of Adam & Eve are in fact tales of alien colonists.
God(an alien commander or leader) sent his people to colonize or settle on Earth. Since no women
besides Eve are mentioned in the bible, where did Adam's sons get wifes? ...
That's a Shaggy God story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaggy_God_story).

Gigabyte
2012-Dec-19, 09:14 PM
Any ideas are more than welcome.

I sometimes actually want to freak out my readers.

Sometimes.