Monday, March 15, 2021

Guest Post: Oumuamua Intercepted 0.22 AU from Earth

This article was developed by Allen W. McDonnell, Steve Payne, Eric Oppen and John Braungart, first appearing on Today in Alternate History

19 Oct 2017: The experimental probe USS Arthur Trudeau intercepted an interstellar object 33 million km from Earth (about 85 times as far away as the Moon) as it was already heading away from the Sun. First identified by astronomers at the Haleakala Observatory, this mysterious object had been assigned the descriptive name "Oumuamua", the Hawaiian term for "Scout".

A consortium of space-faring nations had worked around the clock to develop the unmanned probe in record time. The result, the USS Arthur Trudeau, was powered by gravitic propulsion technologies that had been reversed engineered from the Roswell UFO seventy years earlier. The architect of that ground-breaking project was in charge of Army Research and Development, Lt. General Arthur Trudeau. As the functional head of the Foreign Technology Desk, he had been put in charge of working with private industry to reverse-engineer equipment of foreign origin that had been captured by the American forces.

A thorough investigation of the 1947 Roswell UFO determined that the "flying disc" was an unmanned probe of extraterrestrial hardware. Although the individual components were vastly superior to human technology, the fundamental sub-system design was recognizable. The two notable exceptions were the "intelligent" exterior metal which looked like aluminum foil but had the startling ability to return to its original shape. After years of not understanding heads nor tails of the engines other than that they should be ones, researchers unraveled the anti-gravity sub-system. The recognizability of similarities in designs with primitive human technology overcame the No Copying Allowed theory proposed by science fiction author John W. Campbell, Jr. He had argued that it would be simply impossible to understand futuristic technology, even of human origins, writing,
"The proposition involving the science-fiction hero who captures an enemy device, brings it home, copies it and puts it into production is being abandoned in modern stories. But the actual difficulty of such a problem is always interesting and worthy of consideration. Only recently has Earth's own technology reached the point where such copying is not possible; today it is definitely impossible in a large field of devices."

Campbell was only partly wrong, because the two decades between Roswell and Apollo 11 were insufficient to fully take advantage of the technologies present in the craft. However, the emergence of microchips and understanding of subatomic particles gradually brought anti-gravity technology into human understanding, which continued to develop under the auspices of the United Nations. By the third decade of the twenty-first century, there were increasingly loud calls for a truly international deep space program that could exploit the Roswell Technologies and take mankind forward more quickly. Cynics had long suggested that a second alien crash was the breakthrough needed to force such a change.

Without the enhanced acceleration of gravitic engines, it would never have been possible to have intercepted an object moving at such velocity before it left the Solar System forever. Capturing Oumuamua was a lucky break because even more secrets were revealed than from the New Mexico Crash. Alternate history would repeat itself--once again, the technology of extraterrestrial origin was recognizable to human development and yet sufficiently advanced to permit reverse engineering.

Oumuamua was an alien lightsail, an ultra-thin object deflecting charged particles radiated by the Sun as a plasma wind to achieve excess acceleration. Over the next few decades, the application of Oumuamua mass-density technologies would enable an even bigger leap-frog in deep space. In a second application, Oumuamua technology acted as a braking mechanism to decelerate starships from relativistic speed.

Unfortunately, external markings on Oumuamua were obscured by years of damage from space debris; however, linguistic experts surmised that Oumuamua did not originate from the Roswell aliens. More disappointingly, Earth scientists were unable to determine whether the lightsail was detached from a larger vessel as many surmised. Certainly there was no evidence of communication technology, and therefore it was maddeningly unclear whether this was a reconnaissance mission being undertaken.

The two events, seventy years apart, gave the space program a tremendous impetus. Even more than that, the calculation that alien contact was inevitable drove scientists to further develop space technology to ensure that humanity was prepared for such a historic first meeting.

Author's Note:

In reality, astronomers concluded that Oumuamua is most likely a natural object. A small number of astronomers suggested that Oumuamua could be a product of alien technology, but evidence in support of this hypothesis is weak. Roswell has been described as "the world's most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim".

Provine's Addendum:

While many humans looked toward the stars for the next great moves of civilization, others were more focused on setting our own house in order before reaching out. Applications of the Roswell Technologies had transformed the Earth with green-energy reactors and no-emission vehicles lifted by anti-gravity fitted with memory-metals that had reduced crash fatalities to nearly zero. Weather satellites broke up hurricanes and shifted rain to drought-stricken areas. Hunger and natural disasters (other than geological ones) looked soon to be things of the past.

Calls for extending humanity's reach continued and were increasingly heard as AI automation took over most traditional jobs in industry and agriculture. Skeptics pointed out that colonies on the moon and Mars were largely research stations and political stunts rather than being grand metropolises of the future, though these would likely serve as the first signs of big things to come as many compared them with Jamestown in North America.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Guest Post: Trial of European War Criminals set for Geneva

 This article was collaboratively developed by Allen W. McDonnell, Robbie Taylor, Steve Payne, and Jeff Provine and first appeared on Today in Alternate History with revisiting "Guisan Insults Hitler."

4 Feb, 1945 - At the Yalta Conference, Geneva was chosen as the best possible location for the forthcoming trial of the Nazi leadership.

The proposal was made by the battling Swiss General Henri Guisan. He had been elected by the Federal Assembly to defend the country against Nazi invaders after he slipped an insult upon Hitler's character, saying the cowardly Fuhrer should never and would never test the Swiss.

The Bavarian city of Nuremberg had been considered first choice, but Morgenthau's Plan for the total denazification of Germany was out of favour. Instead, international cooperation had become far more pressingly important. Consequently, Roosevelt and Stalin readily agreed with the proposal. FDR died a few months later, and Henry Wallace was the new president when details of the trial were being finalised. Circumstances had dramatically changed since Yalta because the north of Switzerland was being occupied by the Red Army.

Nevertheless, there were many good reasons for choosing the second-most populous city in Switzerland (after Z├╝rich). With Hitler in Allied custody, there was a very real possibility that the commando Otto Scorzeny would launch a daring rescue Operation Eiche-style mission. This ruled out Nuremberg for security reasons. Having defeated the Nazis with Allied assistance, the Swiss were fiercely proud of their neutrality, and they had lots of well-trained security in place to secure the Nazi leadership. Should Scorzeny make such an attempt, they might even catch him as he tried to suborn the security men, who would likely shoot him rather than accept whatever bribe he offered.

By fully recognizing the human suffering of the USSR during Hitler's trial, the active participation of Soviets relieved tensions in the Grand Alliance. President Wallace was even able to convince the Soviets to withdraw from Switzerland as well as neighboring Austria. Both Wallace and Stalin fully understood the military reality: North Switzerland was not a viable Soviet satellite. This was because the mountainous terrain would be as tough on the Soviets as it was on the German invaders. Most likely, they would never hold it and lose anything they tried to do so.

To mark this important forward step in progress, the leaders of the Grand Alliance agreed to locate the new United Nations Headquarters in Geneva next to the old League of Nation offices. The city that became synonymous with compassion in the midst of warfare, the general rules for civilized behavior from the Geneva Declarations, became the standard by which the world entered the next century together. Guisan was the guest of honour, and by the time that Hitler was executed, there was every reason to believe that Wallace's promise of the "century of the common man" had just begun.

Author's Note:

In reality, the trials were to commence on 20 November 1945, in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg.

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