Why Don’t We Talk to Bees?

Have you ever tried to talk to a bee or an ant? Why not? They live in highly structured and sophisticated colonies, even the architecture of a seemingly innocuous hole in the ground rivals the pinnacles of human achievement in scale and complexity.

They have workers and soldiers and a ruling class like we do and they even have sophisticated chemical communication systems used both in peace time and war and oh, they haven’t quite yet gotten around to abolishing slavery.

If an alien civilization, complex and capable enough of harnessing the immense amount of energy needed to traverse space and time (as we know it), arrived at earth how would they view our species and culture?

The notion that we are to an alien civilization what social insects are to us has fascinated me since I came across the idea in Carl Sagan’s science fiction novel, Contact.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson covers this awesome idea eloquently in his inimitable way here.

The full hour talk is well worth watching but you can skip to 01:22:00 to hear Mr Tyson explain how different we may be from Aliens. In case you didn’t know, Dr Tyson runs the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and is largely responsible for the demotion of Pluto from planetary status.

Also, in this video he cogently explains why Pluto lost its place among the planets, how he thinks teaching the solar system to kids needs to be revised and how a poor understanding of categorization lead to all the controversy in the first place.

About half way through the talk Tyson points out that there are about 6000 astrophysicists in the world and that given the current world population of 6 Billion people the chance to meet and ask questions of an astrophysicist is one in a million.

He reckons if you ever get the chance to meet one you had better make the best use of it possible!

So I got to thinking what would be my one question for Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson if I met him and I decided on this:

Is dark energy/dark matter the new aether?

The question is not new, nor is the answer especially that difficult to understand, I’d just love to hear him answer it!