The Dark Forest Theory

by Izaak Garcia 

Maybe the only reason Earth still exists 

is because we have not yet been found… 

There are numerous explanations as to why humanity has not encountered other alien lifeforms in the universe. Could it be because we are truly the only intelligent species? Perhaps our technology has not yet advanced far enough to allow us to communicate over extremely long distances. Or maybe, aliens do in fact know we exist, and they simply choose to ignore us. All of these theories could be plausible, and each have their own set of evidence to back them up. But the one thing that these mentioned theories have in common, is the assumption that both the other forms of life in the universe, as well as humanity, would be friendly to each other upon contact. Because of this outlook, scientists and physicists alike have favored theories that align with this viewpoint. But not all theories paint extraterrestrial life in such a happy light, and in this article, we will be examining a theory that is a lot less optimistic than its competitors. 

The theory in question is called The Dark Forest. This theory stems from multiple sources, starting from a paper published in 1983 by astrophysicist David Brin, and being brought into more popularity by a book titled The Dark Forest, written by Lui Cixin in 2008. The Dark Forest theory takes a much, well—darker approach to the absence of alien life. The theory creates an analogy, saying that the universe is like a dark forest, filled with shadows and unknown things. The Earth, or humanity in this case, is a hunter within this forest, treading carefully through the branches and leaves, making sure they make no sound. But in this forest, there are other hunters, analogous to alien species. These other hunters are also in the dark portions of the forest, observing from the shadows, and hiding from one another. The premise of this situation is, if a hunter finds another hunter within the forest, they will immediately fire upon each other without any hesitation, because in this environment, the hunter that strikes first survives. 

The same goes for species living within the same universe. If we take the approach of this theory, then we can firmly assume two things. One, there is other life besides humanity, possibly thousands of different kinds of species. And two, if and when these species meet each other, one always destroys the other. Now, if we take into account that NASA is actively trying to send out communication from the earth and into deep space to try and make first contact with alien life forms, this ends up being extremely detrimental to humanity. With the parameters set by The Dark Forest theory, these communications are essentially the equivalent of flares being sent up into the sky, marking our location in the universe. And with the things we know through this theory, the description of “bad” for this situation would be an understatement. But one of the flaws of this theory is that it assumes all life outside of humanity seeks only to destroy, and with the infinite nature of our universe, this conjecture seems highly unlikely. The question that does remain however, is what sort of alien species will reach us first: a friend, or a foe?

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

My Feelings

by Kamia Fair 

My feelings have to be kept quiet to keep peace

Silence is beauty but not for me

Crying out for help but you don’t see me

I’m hurting but you don’t feel me

I’m breaking but you won’t uplift me.

When will my feelings matter?

Never, I see

My voice is so soft and sweet 

My writing is LOUD as can be

I’m hurting peacefully, you wouldn’t know what that means.

Say I’m nonchalant and lazy

But you wouldn’t know the real me

Until I act crazy

Hot burning showers for relief, 

Smiling but screaming like hell inside, 

Begging god to keep my sanity!

Eighteen and so tired 

When will “happy life” really begin for me?

Lost girl with not a soul to run to 

“Stay strong” is what they tell you 

But what if I’m weak and just can’t handle it?

When will my feelings actually matter to you?

Mixed emotions, your love 

Is like a potion that I’m stuck to

Addicting and thrilling, 

When will you love me like I want you to?

Speaking equals no peace 

So I write what I feel

Say your thoughts and they won’t hear

I’m crying tears 

I’m trapped in silence 

Less to say, now I’m called “weird.”

Quiet people are in fear 

When we speak we most likely say the wrong things

Your feelings won’t matter until you’re gone

No longer alone 

Tear and fear-free.

An on-and-off button is what I need     

My thoughts are eating me alive 

To the point I can barely breathe

Acting normal is a skill for me

My feelings are hurt, can’t you see?

When will I be happy 

And be able to show the real me?

About Kamia Fair

Kamia Fair was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, and is a senior in high school at Manual Academy. Fair loves nature and R&B music. She has many personalities—one is a free spirit and another is closed in and shy. She loves anything that has a true meaning. Fair’s book is her voice and freedom. She likes to write about things like her past, present, and future, as well as the things she lives around. What inspired her to start writing poetry was trauma that happened in her past. It began as an every day journal, to finally bringing it out her inner self. Fair hopes to bring more people like herself from her community to write— or at least more people from her community to read what she speaks, and hope for it to inspire them and hope for them to hear her voice to feel where she is coming from.

downstream journey

the water ripples and moves continuously

so there is always something to see

the stream flows in a direction

a direction that is meant to move

so there is always somewhere to go

the clouds ripple and flow

along with the stream

a lifelong passenger.

nighttime routine

the sun has almost fallen

and I take a deep breath

as I watch the headlights flicker on

and the parking lot empty

the dragonfly passes

perhaps to find its place for the night

the biker rides onto the sidewalk

the street lamps turn on

the air finally cools

as the clouds grasp each other for warmth

the night approaches

and we all prepare.

About Rabiah Na’Allah

Rabiah Na’Allah and is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Graphic Design and Cinema. She is from Peoria, Illinois, and the self-proclaimed middle child of three sisters. Rabiah is heavily involved in the University of Iowa Honors Program and serves as an Honors Outreach Ambassador and leader on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion council. She is involved in various organizations on campus including the Muslim Student Association, African Student Association and Student Advocates of Planned Parenthood. When she’s not working at school, you can find her doing photography, volunteering at a number of student productions through the Theater program, analyzing her favorite movies, or binge-watching Criminal Minds.

Viewing the Constitution as a Living Document

by Anna Gross

The Constitution was written more than 

230 years ago—maybe it’s time for updates.

Thomas Jefferson said himself that the Constitution of the United States should be rewritten every 19 years to better reflect a more modernized society. During the 235 years since the Constitution was written, only 27 amendments have been made, the last one being 30 years ago. With a changing world that’s come a long way since 1787, it would be smart to heed our founding father’s advice. Many American citizens have raised the question of why it’s important to treat the Constitution as a living document. But what does the phrase “living document” even mean? According to the University of Chicago School of Law, “a living Constitution is one that evolves, changes over time, and adapts to new circumstances, without being formally amended.”

An article from NPR  in May 2022 found that compared to all high-income countries in the world, the United States is the worst at protecting its children from gun violence. One of the main arguments lawmakers use to prevent gun control measures is the second amendment which poses the question: are some amendments still as relevant to today’s society? During the time when the Constitution was written, guns were nowhere near as powerful as the ones we have today. 

The technology we have in 2022, such as phones, cars, and guns wouldn’t be imaginable by the men writing our Constitution. If the main reason laws aren’t being passed to stop the killings of many Americans is based on an amendment written hundreds of years ago, it would be advisable to start changing our mindsets.

The Constitution was written by those who held power in the late 1700s, and they wrote it influenced by the time period they were in. Not included in the document were the rights of everyone who was not a wealthy male landowner. Our government and its citizens’ views about the world have adapted to welcome much more diversity and inclusion. By looking at the Constitution strictly the way those writing it did, we are further ignoring many minority groups that make up a large percentage of America’s population.

It’s also difficult to come to a consensus on how to look at the Constitution, as our country is divided in its views. A portion of the population claims that the Constitution should be observed as it was written, while the other side believes it should be viewed with a more modern approach. Another challenge is the difficult process of making changes to the Constitution. Many amendments in the Constitution are incredibly broad, so it is almost impossible to decipher what to change if that was undergoing consideration.

It’s important to view the Constitution as a guide for how our government should be run, but to remember that it is a historical document written in a completely different time period than the one we are in now. Following every single rule exactly how it is stated is an unrealistic expectation and sets our country up for failure. It’s our job to speak up and call our lawmakers to action so that they can have an open mind when voting on laws that decide the future of our country!

About Anna Gross

Anna Gross is a Sophomore in the Pre-IB program at Richwoods High School. She is involved in Student Council, Student Leadership Team, speech, tennis, and Spanish Club. Outside of school she loves to travel, bake, and perform as a singer, dancer, and actress!

Art by Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best.