Scientists working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (known as the Very Large Array or VLA) near Magdelena, New Mexico called a news conference today to make a startling announcement. Following is a transcript:
"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Dr Ellie Arroway, chief scientist and spokesperson for the NRAO here in New Mexico. We've called you here today to announce an absolutely stunning recent development. We have discovered what appears to be some kind of an parallel universe.
As you must realize, this is a shocking discovery, and what makes it most amazing is that this universe appears to have been right there in front of our noses, or should I say ears, all along. The sounds we are receiving are coming from a very near source. We have apparently been listening right through it. Perhaps a visual metaphor would help you understand. It is as if we have been focusing on the scene that is behind a glass pane, instead of on the glass pane itself. Now that we've focused our attention on at a shallower level, on the glass instead of what's behind it, it's a very different experience.
"In the 80 hours or so of "listening " that we have conducted so far, our scientists have been able to glean a fair amount of information about life in this PU, as we like to call it. Unfortunately, at this juncture our attempts at two-way communication have not met with success, as the life-forms we are listening in on have not yet responded to our ovations. We are nonetheless optimistic that this communication barrier will soon be broken.
"At this point I will entertain a few questions, and then I must get back to working on this exciting development. I expect that we will be putting out a much more comprehensive review of this work in the very near future. And oh yes, please excuse my headphones, but I am getting practically minute by minute updates on sounds emitted from the AU via relay from our control center. Now, first question please."
KXLS Reporter: Dr. Arroway, what do you know so far about life in this , this PU?
Dr. Arroway: "Well, I must say it appears to be an extremely dysfunctional place. It is almost as if it is an upside-down world, figuratively speaking that is, with cultural and social mores that are nearly opposite of what most humans on our planet would accept as the desired norm. One might say it's not only a parallel, but also an inverse universe."
Reporter: "Can you tell yet if there is any a recognizable form of government or authority in this parallel or inverse universe?"
Dr. Arroway: "Well, it is a little hard to say, but yes, we have gleaned quite a bit of information already about how this AU society appears to work. This is what we have gathered so far:
•The AU society seems to be led by an entity that we here have nicknamed the Great Provider, an Oz-like benefactor who enchants followers with entitlements and promises of nirvana. The Great Provider is very effective at exercising power over methods of mass communication, and uses this means to insure that the public sees him as a god-like persona - a being with a level of intelligence and morality that is far above any regular mortal that we could even imagine.
•Devotion to and dependence upon the Great Provider has resulted in a considerable level of centralized control over the masses. As a result, there seems to be a very low standard for personal liberty and individual responsibility.
•The Great Provider is also a great divider. He, or perhaps I should say it, seems to maintain power by purposely driving wedges between different classes of subjects, between members of different races, different creeds, and different economic means. The Provider then presents himself as the only source of a solution to the division that he in fact has caused to exist. Citizens are actually encouraged by the Provider to covet their neighbors' belongings. It is a very slick and backhanded scheme.
•There is a great focus is on equal outcome instead of equal opportunity. Competition and reward for performance are scorned by the Provider. Citizens are told they need to share their piece of the economic pie, so that each has the same. They are told that their economy cannot be grown without upsetting the goal of equal outcome, without unacceptable damage to the physical environment, and without sacrifice of the entitlements they have come to depend on.
•Worship of a Creator or real God and belief and a spiritual life is openly disdained, while exaltation of the Great Provider and the Natural World is widely promoted.
•Relativism and tolerance of all forms of sanctioned dogma seem to be the only absolutes. Followers of unsanctioned philosophies are publicly ridiculed, or worse.
•Education of the young is very poor, largely because the focus is on indoctrination instead of real learning. Students are heavily schooled in the needs and rights of the collective. The collective always takes precedence over the individual.
•Authority appears to dictate truth, rather than being derived from it."
KSNF Reporter: "My goodness, you have learned a lot already. Can you tell us a bit about how this listening by way of radio astronomy actually works? What kinds of sounds do you actually hear?"
Dr. Arroway: "Yes, of course. As you can see, the observatory here comprises 27 independent dish-shaped antennas, each of which has a dish diameter of 25 meters (82 feet). These can be configured in any one of four different array arrangements, and aimed at any direction, depending on what depth of space we intend to monitor. Normally, the so-called sounds we receive are not sounds as you normally think of. They are unintelligible noise to the uninitiated - mostly after-effects of intergalactic explosions that may have occurred millions of years ago and millions of light years away.
"What made this discovery such a revelation and so exciting is that the sounds we are hearing are actually spoken language, English in fact. Our data show that the source of these sounds is much closer to our own planet than we might have ever imagined - a pane of glass away, so to speak. Imagine - a parallel universe where they speak English!
"Wait - - just a minute please - - I am receiving a re-transmission from our control room operator right now. Let me see if we can amplify the sound for you on our loudspeaker. This is really exciting. Just a second - here it is . . . . "
. . static . . . static . . . and this is Nina Tokenberg, saying goodnight for the lawn of the White House. And thank you for listening to National Public Radio on the Public Broadcasting System. This program was paid for by George Soros and by our good friends at MoveOn.org
Dr. Arroway: "Ummm, uhhh, well … never mind. Thank you for your time today."