Thursday, June 16, 2011

We Are Not Alone

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We receive transmission of a mysterious radio signal. The source is a star nearly 10 light years away - more than 58 trillion miles from Earth. The answer to an age-old question has arrived - we are not alone in the universe.

There are those of us who have always believed that were not alone, not necessarily just the so-called alien hunters, but also people who believe that other life is out there, and that whoever is out there may hold the answers to some of our age-old questions about creation and the history of the universe. Most of us have received this impression from Hollywood. Movies like Star Wars, Mission to Mars, and almost any Star Trek film have given us impressions of other civilizations from far-off planets in distant galaxies. But it was never just any sort of life form. It was always intelligent life.

American Heritage Dictionary defines intelligence as, the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge. In other words, the ability to think; to acquire and apply enough knowledge to keep a civilization going; to survive. The word alien is defined (in the same edition) as, belonging to, characteristic of, or constituting another and very different place [or] society. This pretty much means anything pertaining to a lifestyle other than we know, whether it be of another class or another land. But more commonly, it is used to mean not of Earth.

So this brings up the question this little bit is based on - Is there intelligent alien life anywhere else in the universe?

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Thus far, scientists have only speculated on this possibility; while they say that it could be possible, most say its highly improbable. The main reason is that no other found planets have the environment necessary for life to survive. According to these scientists, Earth is the only planet with the perfect balance required to sustain life. As far as we can tell, the majority of the planets in the Milky Way galaxy have either a very weak atmosphere or none at all. Of those atmospheres that do exist, virtually no carbon or oxygen is found; the dominant substances are hydrogen, nitrogen, methane or methane gas, or sulfur/sulfuric acid clouds. Also, the range of temperatures throughout the Milky Way is VERY extreme. Venus temperature averages at 860 degrees Fahrenheit, while Plutos is around 45 Kelvin (really cold).

Furthermore, while some scientists have said that alien life could be possible, they emphasize that it would probably be little more than microorganisms and/or bacteria. Nothing of intelligence; nothing significant or capable of having an advanced civilization.

I believe the fact that scientists are only speculating on this possibility is evidence of one of our biggest problems as humans we limit our thinking entirely too much! Somehow we refuse to acknowledge, much less accept, the fact that we may not be the only intelligent beings in the universe; we think that the only life forms possible are those found on Earth. Its the typical were the superior life form frame of mind; anything beyond what were familiar with is inconceivable.

First of all, I have found nothing - and I repeat, NOTHING - that says extra-

terrestrial intelligent life forms have to be like those found on Earth. Nothing has been proven saying that humans and animals are the only possible beings. I think the only reason we say this is so because we dont know any different. In a sense, its what we DO know that is hurting is, not what we dont. We dont know any other way of life; therefore, we think that all cosmic life forms have to be like the ones were familiar with here on Earth. We cant comprehend anyone living differently than we do, even with something as simple as imagining life in another country! So how could we go so far as to imagine a planet where life itself is different?

This leads to my second point, which is the fact I feel that we refuse to open our minds to possibility that there are other inhabitable planets and solar systems, let alone the idea that there is intelligent life out there somewhere. Sure, Hollywood has presented fantastic ideas of alien life in movies like Men In Black, Mars Attacks, or War of the Worlds, but they have all been highly fantasized and vague to detail, not to mention almost always portrayed as being hostile towards us. I might also point out that in all of those movies, the aliens have come to Earth. With the exception of a few brief scenes in Star Trek, we have never actually seen life depicted as living on other planets, and most of us seem to not want to think about the fact that its possible.

Finally, I feel we are, for some reason, so afraid to admit how much we DONT know about the cosmos and their contents. Scientists dont like to say that they arent positive conditions on other planets are incapable of supporting life of any form. Instead, they completely deny that fact, saying they have found absolutely no other inhabitable heavenly bodies.

I believe when you really think about it, life is theoretically possible on any planet, in any part of the universe. But even with as much as it has advanced in the past fifty years, our limited technology can only explore so far. And that so far is probably less than 1% of the total universe, especially considering we dont even know how expansive the universe is! For this reason, we dont know for certain that there isnt another planet suitable for life out there somewhere. Someday we may have technology advanced enough to find this out, but it will take years, lots of money, and a lot of test trials first.

One concept that does seem to be universal is the superior species way of thinking. Humans especially like to think theyre the only life forms around. But suppose another civilization somewhere is thinking the same thing? Its definitely a possibility that alien species may think the same thing about us as we do them - that intelligent life isnt possible outside of their planet. They could also be on the same search that we are, and either just have yet to find us or are waiting for their signal to reach Earth.

Scientists? saying that life isn?t possible on any other planet is pure bogus. When you really think about it, life is possible anywhere because life forms adapt to their environment. This is virtually necessary for survival. If life forms dont adapt to geological changes, both physiologically and instinctively, theyre doomed to become extinct.

One of the greatest examples of how a species evolves to fit their environment is humans. Just think about how weve evolved

About 4- million years ago, a species know as Australopitheous afarensis roamed

the planet. These creatures were very ape like, only -5 feet tall, and having a brain

capacity of about 400-500 cubic centimeters.

Around -1.5 million years ago, the Homo habili began to emerge. These beings

were slightly taller, a bit more human in features, with a larger brain capacity

(500-800 cubic cm.).

During these time periods (geologically considered the Cenozoic Era, Tertiary Period, Pliocene Epoch), the Earth was still undergoing continental drift, including the breakup of Laurasia (the South America/Africa super continent), which created the Atlantic Ocean. Nonetheless, this was influential in the evolution of mammals. Plant life itself was just beginning to evolve and spread, so food as we know it was not abundant. Also, the climates were very different; the Arctic and Antarctic regions were not yet ice capped.

The Homo erecti lived from million to 50,000 years ago. Though even more

recognizably human, they still had quite a few ape like features. Their brain

capacities grew to about 00-1000 cubic cm.

Homo sapiens appeared around 400,000 years ago, but are the only surviving

species of this time. With an expanded brain capacity of 150 cubic cm., and mainly

human features, they are the most like us; humans themselves are considered to be

scientifically under this classification. Also from this species came the subspecies

Cro Magnon and Neanderthal, both of which have died out.

In this time (Quartenary Period, Pleistocene Epoch), the Great Ice Age occurred. But somehow, early humans, though displaced by glacier movement, adapted to the changing conditions. When many plant and animal species died out, they managed to find food and survive.

If a species such as humans has evolved this much, whos to say its not possible on another planet? I really believe that somewhere else in the universe, it is going on right this very moment! We dont have technology advanced enough to find it; therefore, we cant prove that it isnt happening. And since this is the case, we also dont have the right to say its not going on somewhere. For example, we used to say that cloning wasnt possible. But then it was proven and happened successfully.

So, do I think well ever find intelligent life somewhere in the cosmos? Frankly, no. I think that with our limited technology, incredibly limited minds, and apparent inability to even acknowledge life may exist somewhere else, an intelligent civilization will find us first. But even then, closed-minded scientists will probably dismiss the radio signal as gamma rays from some dying star.

One problem that we may encounter is that we may not even HAVE the technology to decipher whatever message theyre trying to send. If these civilizations are that much more advanced than we are, they may have developed a whole new system of communicating. But this would also mean that any message they may receive from us would be considered gibberish. Figuring out just how to communicate could take years in itself (especially at the rate the government funds the space and science programs now).

But suppose we were able to decipher a message. What would it say? Would it be a message of peace? Of hostility? And how would we respond? I think that once we open up our minds enough to realize there actually is other life, we would respond with a message of peace. Id imagine scientists would be eager to communicate. Once we figure out how to respond, anyway.

Imagine how much we could learn from another species...the possibilities are almost endless. If this civilization were older than we are, they could quite possibly tell us about the history of the universe, and maybe even creation itself. They might even know where WE came from! We could also learn how other species have evolved and adapted to fit certain conditions, and maybe understand our own evolution better.

This exchanging of facts could have a major effect on society - we would be presented with entirely new ideas and concepts; therefore, we may discover we are wrong about things such as creation and prehistoric life. How would we react to this? Would we change our way of thinking, in turn essentially re-writing our science books, or would we fight their facts and insist that we are right? I have a feeling it would end up being a major battle of the sciences, and that we would have to expand our minds a lot to comprehend and accommodate this new-found knowledge.

One thing hardly anyone seems to have thought of is the possibility that whatever civilization we make contact with may already be communicating with yet more species on more planets. Our making contact with life on another planet may be a catalyst to a vast interstellar communication ring. There are possibly thousands of intelligent life forms out there that we dont know about, but someone else does. Conceivably, this initial communication could have a totally fantastic effect on society. Down the road, it could lead to things such as inter-planetary habitation and/or colonization, expanded economic trade, wonderful technological advances, and, someday, maybe even a universal government (i.e. StarFleet Command in Star Trek).

In conclusion, I do believe there is intelligent life in other parts of the universe, despite what scientists say. Because species evolve to survive, as we ourselves have, life is possible anywhere. All we need to do is realize were not the only possible form of intelligent life, open our minds to the probability that other forms of life do exist, and advance enough technologically to communicate. Doing so could increase our knowledge of things infinitely, and help us understand better things we dont know. All of our questions about life and the universe could be answered. And someday, all civilized parts of the universe could be united.

Scientists analyze the message, and eventually are able to translate it into our own language. It reads This is a greeting of peace. Please respond.

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