Which TV Shows Aliens May Be Watching
If extraterrestrials were monitoring American television, here's what they would be watching. In the Fomalhaut system, for example, maybe everybody's crazy about Miami Vice.
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
World War II is coming to the Aldebaran star system, 65 light years from Earth. Local television viewers will be shocked by the TV footage, actual and dramatised, of Earth's bloodiest conflict, which took the better part of seven decades to reach them.
Fortunately, they have better things to look forward to. By now, transmissions of The Lone Ranger and Howdy Doody have reached Pi Mensae system, somewhat closer to Earth, and will be reaching them in the years to come.
Viewers in the Iota Horologii system are about to be hit by I Love Lucy and Captain Kangaroo, while anyone with a working TV set near Mu Arae is at present doubtlessly hooked on The Twilight Zone and Bonanza.
All of that is old news to the alien life forms circling Beta Aquilae, deep in the throes of first-wave Beatlemania from just having seen the Fab Four on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The inhabitants of the Zeta Reticuli system will be less thrilled with the TV signals reaching them from Earth, showing them landing a craft on the Moon – and warp-driving the star ship Enterprise across the universe. What if they show up here next?
If they wait a few years, shows like Happy Days and Little House on the Prairie will convince them of the Earthlings' good intentions (if not their gullibility) – Maybe they're thinking: How about we show up there next?
Just wait a bit longer, and there will be so much on TV you won't even get out of the couch anymore – or whatever it is you sit on. The good folks at Chi Draconis are in the middle of watching our Eighties stuff right now: still enjoying Buck Rogers and The Dukes of Hazzard, and soon adding The Cosby Show and Miami Vice to their viewing schedule.
Pretty soon, Fomalhaut will start receiving the first episodes of Seinfeld – but somehow it seems doubtful that a show about nothing could travel so far through the vacuum of space without losing something.
This map is a few years old, so the TV-watching creatures near Alpha Centauri have gotten some more time to recover from the infamous 'wardrobe malfunction' during Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's halftime show during the 2004 Superbowl.
All this is assuming, of course, that all the aforementioned extraterrestrials prefer American TV to, say, German Fernsehen. And – this surely is the greater assumption – that our terran television signals are able to penetrate the universe in a way that makes them receivable in the far-flung corners of our galaxy.
Strange Maps #401
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
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