It’s been over a month since my trip to KIC 8462852, better known as Tabby’s Star. And yes, my trip was totally for real. I was actually there and saw the alien megastructure for myself. You can trust me on this.
Anyway… I did a lot of research and reading to prepare for my trip, and I noticed a common theme in almost all the papers and articles I read: whatever’s happening to Tabby’s Star, it was very easy for us Earthlings to miss. In fact, it almost was missed.
Tabetha Boyajian herself (for whom Tabby’s Star is named) initially dismissed the star’s anomalous light curve as faulty data. And that could have been the end of it, no further investigation required.
It’s almost dumb luck (plus the persistence of a few citizen scientists) that Boyajian and others ended up taking a second look at that “faulty” data and realized it wasn’t a problem with the telescope, that something legitimately weird was going on.
Enrico Fermi Still Whats to Know: Where Is Everybody?
I’m bringing this up because I think it has interesting implications for the Fermi Paradox. Circa 1950, physicist Enrico Fermi argued that advanced space faring civilizations should be out there somewhere, and furthermore Fermi said we should have seen them or heard from them by now. So where is everybody?
Now I don’t want to oversell my point here, because there are a lot of possible answers to Fermi’s question. Maybe we really are alone in the universe, or maybe intelligent life is less common than Fermi assumed. Or maybe intergalactic law forbids making contact with primitive worlds like Earth.
But it’s also possible—in my opinion, very possible—that evidence of alien civilizations is there, but we’ve just missed it. Maybe we haven’t been looking in the right places, or maybe we haven’t been looking for the right things. Tabby’s Star is a perfect example. I don’t know if aliens are responsible for what’s happening to Tabby’s Star… wait, I mean I do know, because I was there and saw the aliens. No really, I did.
Umm… anyway… even if there weren’t an alien megastructure, the story of Tabby’s Star should tell us something about how easy it is for us to overlook what’s happening right in front of our eyes—or what’s happening right in front of our telescopes.