45 years ago, humans ventured into a new frontier. The world watched as representatives of our race made their way to the lunar landscape. Apollo 11’s landing on July 20 revolutionized us, and it introduced us to a new age of enlightenment: The Space Age. Now, there is a likelihood that this century (or at least this millennium) will introduce us to a new age—an era where mankind uncovers the greatest discovery of all—Intelligent life outside our own world.
But who should our representatives be?
To answer this question, let's have a little "what if" scenario: Imagine that an alien civilization nearby uncovered our radio signals and decided to communicate back with the same method. They decide to transmit a signal that contains a “special message” that will help enhance communication between the two species. The message would be something that would help mankind construct a starship that can travel faster than light speed. However, there is a catch. These starships can only fit eight people to travel from Earth to their planet. Those extraterrestrials are offering us a way to mark a new era in our history, which would bring humanity into first contact with another civilization. Such notions give us a feeling of unprecedented exuberance.
But first! The international community is tasked in the selection of eight humans to ride to the stars. Who should they be? Choosing merely eight earthlings to represent over 7 billion is a hard choice. Surely, our representatives should have the determination and persistence to stimulate our interests and vitalize our legacy in the universe. Without further adieu, here is FQTQ's list of top candidates for our ambassadors to the stars:
1. The Biochemist
The biochemist understands the fundamentals of life sciences, which include and the biological and chemical processes surrounding living things and their environment. A background in astrobiology and astrochemistry is important, considering that their knowledge of the origins and distributions of terrestrial and extraterrestrial life, as well as the exoplanet’s chemical reactions and interactions, are vital in such interstellar missions (after all, we need to know what worlds are habitable for humans, to what degree, and where we are likely to find them. This is where a biochemist can help).
2. The Astrophysicist
The astrophysicist perceives how the universe behaves and interacts. He/she has the capability to understand the physical concepts of celestial and astronomical objects. It is essential for the astrophysicist to have adequate knowledge in major subfields such as astronomy (both galactic and extragalactic) and cosmology (to understand the philosophical physics and development of the universe). We also need someone to be able to understand the knowledge and expertise that the aliens have and adapt this knowledge for our own use (if possible).
3. The Mathematician
Mathematics is considered to be the universal language. It is the study of quantity, shapes and patterns. The mathematician shouldn’t only be capable of understanding the subject as common language, but also its universality. The mathematician is a logician who uses deductive reasoning to discover new concepts and truths on different fields of knowledge such as engineering and physics.
4. The Linguist
Extraterrestrials are likely to have a similar complex communication system as humans. Thus, we need a(n) (exo)linguist to analyze and comprehend their communicative style, which includes the form, meaning and the context of their language. In addition, it is significant for the linguist to be knowledgeable in related fields such as cryptology (to analyze and comprehend clandestine codes) and semiotics (to analyze and comprehend the meaning behind sign processes and complex symbolisms), since an interstellar voyage to make first contact would be a waste if communication is inoperative.
5. The Anthropologist
Having this social scientist is essential in interstellar ventures. One of the main objectives in this first contact mission is to study the aliens’ socio-cultural behavior. The anthropologist is to be the jack-of-all-trades of social sciences and is to have a wide knowledge on other fields, which include sociology (to evaluate the social structure of alien communities), history (to analyze their events and determine how it relates to humanity's own history), political science (to understand their political culture and system) and psychology (to understand their behavioral interaction with one another and other species). Due to the anthropologist’s knowledge of “terrestrial” affairs and his/her multicultural approach, it makes him/her the most suitably trained scientists, alongside the linguist, to initiate the first move in the climax of first contact (also, they maye prevent interstellar conflict).
6. The Journalist
The journalist inquires and analyzes all the realized information. We rely on him/her to render discoveries and events into a meaningful context for the benefit of us here on Earth. His/her integrity is based on the principles of truth, accuracy and factual knowledge. Furthermore, considering the universe’ vastness and unparalleled beauty, we need someone to creatively visualize such phenomenon, thus grasping on Contact’s Ellie Arroway’s suggestion of sending a poet.
7. The Medic
Space is a daunting frontier. We need someone who can watch out for the crew’s survival out there. Thus, a doctor with military medicine expertise is essential. He/she provides the crew’s healthcare and is tasked with the prevention of potential illnesses that may arise. What differentiates a military doctor with a civilian doctor is that the former has a more managing advantage in treating patients in afflicting fields such as in the battlefield. The medic, alongside the biochemist, is to have an adequate knowledge on astrobiology and astrochemistry.
8. The Diplomat
The diplomat would serve as the captain of the crew. This role would also be the most controversial as it will be politically-appointed. The UN has a sub-organization devoted to space affairs called the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs located in Vienna, Austria. The head of this organization would probably fill this spot, unless the international community offers a different alternative, which is highly likely. This position is to be held by someone not only with a background in space sciences, but also in international and diplomatic relations. Someone with this role is to have adequate knowledge on space law and international law. The diplomat is to be the model representative of all humanity, so we better be sure who to pick here.