Are we living a dream or is there really another race (other than human) in this Universe?
Some astrophysicists have a contradictory idea that there is a race existing in this universe other than the human kind. Perhaps there is another race just like humankind – intelligent enough to communicate with us or even destroy us. Who knows. But we haven’t heard from them yet. When will we, if we ever do?
How did it all start?
Astrophysicist Frank Drake devised in 1961 a calculation which predicted the existence of countless civilisations amongst the stars. The calculation did use some speculative assumptions, but still ignited anticipation and curiosity within our scientific community. Are we the only ones in this universe or are we part of a cosmological zoo?
Why we think there aren’t any
So, some clearly believe that there has never been any signs of aliens and there never will be. Astrobiologist Martin Van-Kranendonk disputes that if we use empirical data to assume any life outside of earth not related to human activity the answer is a straight no, as far as we know. Our knowledge in the fields of astronomy are very finite, hence there are a vast majority of gaps in knowledge which we still have yet to fill. We have not investigated every corner of the universe for signs of life and we do not even know what may constitute life in another chemical system: life here is pretty much carbon based but that might not be the case in other such planets. We may never be able to definitively answer this question. But of course, there is much work being done in an effort to figure this out. Perhaps one day we can know if we have nearby inter-planetary neighbours, or if indeed we are alone.
Why we think there could be
Say there were aliens which had much more advanced knowledge than us, and were much smarter than us – we’d never know if they would want to mind their own business, and not mix around with less advanced creatures like us! Or maybe, they have a different lifespan to us, and don’t live long enough to evolve or even form a large community of their own species. After all, there is evidence of microbial organisms in planets- including our neighbour Mars! After the discovery of the presence of methane people believe there could be methanogens. We could technically consider these aliens, since they do live and they live on a different planet with different conditions.
From Roswell to The Lubbock Lights, there have been plenty of UFO sightings on Earth. Is the government hiding the evidence? Or is it fake news? Imagine they are living amongst us. If any aliens are reading this, why not say “it’s me” in the comments below!
In 1960, Drake had pointed a radio telescope towards two nearby stars, and waited for that distinctive signal. Instead of intelligent messages he got a load of static, and interference from a secret military experiment; and so the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, was born. It’s a lot like the dramatized 1997 movie Contact by Jodie Foster.
Then, on 15 August, 1977, another SETI program recorded a brief radio signal coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. Jerry Ehman, the astronomer analysing the data at ‘Big Ear’ telescope that day, was so excited that he wrote “Wow!” in the margin of the print-out.
Drake tried this too, sending a radio message towards a globular star cluster M13. This was named the “Arecibo” message, it showed potential aliens our DNA structure, solar system and some of the biochemicals of earthly life. They also tried sending aliens a greeting onboard space probes Pioneer 10 and 11, which included images of humans and even directions to our planet.
Then, in 1977, they sent a more ambitious message, with audio and images, on the Voyager probes. They even included a mixtape of some of our favourite tunes to impress any friendly lifeforms.
By now aliens might know quite a lot about us – including what we need to survive and how to reach us. And you might be wondering whether it’s such a good idea to be signalling our location all over the galaxy, when we don’t even know who’s listening.
“It’s like shouting in a forest before you know if there are tigers, lions, and bears”, says SETI researcher Dan Werthimer. Worse still, these bears might have major-impact-interstellar -missiles. We are out of our minds.
Society has such a mixed perception about aliens- I personally was terrified when I watched War of the Worlds. These sci-fi films are created to increase imagination though. There is no solid scientific evidence that we have other living communities in this universe amongst us yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be as we progress towards the future. If you were to ask me, I would say I think there is a possibility they exist. Scientists are increasingly finding planets with potential habitable features – so don’t lose your hope! What do you think- are we really alone in this seemingly never-ending Universe?
A huge thanks to Anna Shvets, Miriam Espacio and Lucas Pezeta from Pexels for our breath-taking pictures.