For those who remember, Barney and Betty Hill reported that they had been abducted by alien creatures in 1961. Under hypnotic regression, Betty remembered a star map the alien leader had shown her, but because she didn’t know where the sun was on the map, he didn’t provide any additional information. Marjorie Fish, a very bright woman, set out to find the home world of the aliens, and eventually settled on Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli, a double star system some 37 light years from Earth.
The problem for us in today’s world is that Fish made a number of assumptions that are no longer valid, a few that might never have been valid, and she used the newest star catalog available at the time which are no longer accurate. Or, in other worlds, we need to revisit this star map using what we know today.
First, let me point out that NASA has announced that they have found the most Earth-like planet yet. It is the fifth planet circling Kepler – 186 (and is designated as Kepler – 186f), is about ten percent larger than Earth, is cooler than Earth, has a higher level of Carbon Dioxide and orbits its sun in 130 days. For those keeping score at home, Kepler -186 is some five hundred (okay 490, but what’s ten light years, more or less at that distance?) light years from Earth.
Now, why is this important?
Because Kepler – 186 is a red dwarf. According to Fish, she left the red dwarf’s out of her system because, she said:
If they go to one star of a given type, it shows interest in that type star – so they should go to other stars of that type if they are in the same volume of space. An exception to this might be the closest stars to the base star, which they might investigate out of curiosity in the early stages of stellar travel. For example, they would not be likely to bypass five red dwarfs to stop at the sixth, if all six were approximately equal in size, spectra, singleness or multiplicity, etc. Or, if they go to one close G [star type] double, they would probably go to other close G doubles.
This was point seven in her analysis for the alien thought processes and why they would visit certain star systems. She added to this when she wrote:
Concerning point 7, I had ruled out the red dwarfs fairly early because there were so many of them and there were only 12 lined points on the Hill map. If one used red dwarfs in logical consecutive order, all the lines were used up before the sun was reached… If they were interested in red dwarfs, there should have been lines going to Gliese 65 (Luyten 76208) which lies near Tau Ceti and about the same distance from Epsilon Eridani as Tau Ceti, and Gliese 866 (Luyten 789-6) which is closer to Tau Ceti than the sun.
Well, you get the point. Fish, logically rejected the red dwarf stars, but the problem is that we knew almost nothing about them. She assumed that one would be the same as the next and if they traveled to one, they should travel to the next. Her real problem was there were so many of them that if she included them, then all the lines were used… meaning that on the star map, the travel routes (lines of communication in the military world) were accounted for before she reached the sun.
So, I now say that some red dwarfs might include Earth-line planets, while others might not, so a spacefaring race, might find that interesting. They may well bypass five red dwarfs and be interested in the sixth because of the planetary system of that sixth star. We simply don’t know.
In fact, Fish argued a “logic” of what the aliens would do, based, I suppose on what she thought humans would do, but we can’t really make such assumptions. We don’t know what might appeal to an alien race, nor do we know what might tempt them to visit a star system, even if that system circles a red dwarf.
We now know that some red dwarfs are more interesting than others. That alone should tell us that we need to reevaluate Fish’s logic and her identification of Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli as the home world of the aliens who abducted the Hills.
In fact, we don’t even know if the sun was on that map. The alien leader might have just pulled up one to show her the complications of travel through three dimensional spaces. It would also seem that he would be able to produce a three dimensional map that would have been more representative of interstellar flight than the two dimensional map he had or rather what Hill reports... and if it had been three dimensional but Hill represented in two dimensions, what sort of errors might that have produced?
Or, to put a point on it, now is the time, using our updated knowledge of the galaxy around us, our discovery of other planets in other star systems, and what I see as a flaw in the logic, it is time to revisit this. Given our personal computing power, it would seem that such a task would be much simpler than the one that faced by Marjorie Fish. Maybe a reevaluation of the Fish/Hill star map will yield new information and while it might not, we should, at the very least, look.