Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Klaatu Barada Nikto

We Come in Peace ... 

Robert Wise's 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still inspired by Harry Bates 1940s science fiction short story, "Farewell to the Master" is essentially a story of alien humanoid and his seemingly motionless robot companion who comes to Earth with a message of peace coupled with a stark warning to humankind.

Throughout the story, the robot Gort (Gnut in the story by Bates) appears motionless, only reanimating by firing a laser from an eye/visor when protecting Klaatu, the alien protagonist. As a way of pacifying the robot the words "Klaatu Barada Nikto" are spoken. What is never explained is the exact meaning of the alien language and so the words are purposely left open to interpretation. The line has made it into contemporary science fiction (and political) culture and the popular conjecture is that the words are a fail-safe, "shut-down"/"do not retaliate"/"we come in peace" type inter-galactic message. The message still resonates strongly and as an example, try inserting about:robots into your Firefox Browser. 

Theme continued in the next posting.

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