Within the constellation of Cygnus, NASA’s Kepler Probe has discovered over 50 planets that have what is known as a “Goldilocks” relationship to their suns: that is to say, the conditions aren’t overly hot or cold, but suitable enough to house water and other factors that could support life as it exists on Earth. Discoveries like this beg the question: is there alien life in this galaxy and if so, what would they want from us?
Probing the Stars
For years humankind has been scouring the airwaves for alien transmissions, occasionally trying to send out a message of our own. In the 1970’s, the Pioneer probes carried plaques bearing diagrammatical information about Earth and her population, and SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) was born. The next probes have been equipped with more sophisticated media should they be discovered by an alien intelligence. Yet, to everyone’s knowledge thus far, SETI has not been a success, turning up no proof of extraterrestrial civilisations. Could part of the reason for this be that we’re looking for the wrong thing?
The assumption that whatever civilization we contact will be on the same humanoid evolutionary curve as humanity could be seen as arrogant. Perhaps our probes have passed planets where life has either died out eons ago or where life is at its most infant stages. A more ominous assessment for our lack of finding life on other planets, or life on other planets finding us, is based on the inherent conflict tied to natural evolution. This school of thought posits that intelligent life cannot evolve past a certain limit without destroying itself. If we look at the world around us today, with the ever present threat of nuclear war, climate change, and biological contagion, can we even state with confidence that our species will endure for much longer? Will we have reached a point of sustained stability where we can turn our attention as a species towards galactic exploration in a meaningful way? Our society and technologies are surely developing at an incredible speed, we now can create robots and sites to play emu casino here, so maybe we will soon know if the theory about self-destruction is not just a theory.
Anybody out THERE?
These are difficult questions to answer, but that doesn’t mean we should give up pursuing solutions. There’s hope even in our own solar system. Hydrogen gas has been discovered erupting from Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn, being enough of an energy source to support microbial life forms. FRBs (Fasr Radio Bursts), micro-burst wave signals picked up recently by astronomers, are thought to come from deep space to our galaxy from an emission source which must be incredibly powerful to be detectable by Earth-based telemetry. Scientists have not come to an agreement about what the potential source of this energy could be. Some suggest it is an incredibly powerful cosmic phenomenon, but others suggest that the FRBs could be the ghosts of propulsion system emissions fuelling massive alien spacecraft. Whatever the source, we can only be sure of one thing: that there’s a lot more to the universe than what we know, which, certainly, could include extraterrestrial life.
Kaya Johnson – U.I.P Guest Writer