3rd February 2009 - The Sentinel

During a transatlantic flight I had the opportunity to read "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke. It was great to finally read this science fiction short story in full length, since it has more or less inspired the name for the Sentinel Research I am currently conducting.

Very briefly, the story is about an exploration team on the Moon that encounters a strange artifact which appears to have an advanced protection mechanism that renders it indestructible. After several years it is possible to break the protection of the artifact and basically destroy it. From analysis of the pieces, it seems that the artifact was in fact a highly advanced device based on non-human technology; and the guess of the main character is, that it was a transmitter placed by aliens seeking for intelligent life. As the story concludes: "… we have set off the fire-alarm and have nothing to do but to wait."

Overall, I find the idea very interesting that aliens were not able to visit the entire universe in their quest for other life, thus perhaps they placed thousands of sentinels in the most promising areas and simply waited for an interruption or change in the signal. Also, they placed the sentinel on the Moon rather than directly on Earth since they wanted to set the threshold for intelligent life to life that is capable of space travel.

Inspiring thoughts from the Master of Science Fiction… ;-)

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Updated 2009-02-03

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