Is humanity the only form of intelligence developed enough to explore the universe? There is one of the greatest mysteries in history and one of the deepest philosophical questions ever developed by the human mind: Are we alone in the universe? Is there any prospect of searching for aliens, or do we simply have no neighbors and are all these worlds intended for human expansion?
This curious question is most likely as old as humanity itself. It existed long before we became aware of ourselves as a species capable of exploring space.
The possible discovery of extraterrestrial life in our or other galaxies will be the greatest discovery of mankind. And if this form of life is reasonable, then there will probably be a turning point in our civilization. It will come with deep and irreversible consequences for our understanding of the world, our spirituality and perception of life.
There are thousands of people on the planet who state with confidence that they know alien life forms, visiting Earth on flying saucers. They talk about a highly intelligent and technologically advanced life coming to interact with people.
Despite the passionate affirmation of truthfulness in their testimonies, their confidence is not yet shared by most of humanity. Especially most of those who are professionally associated with science.
Science is the most effective and accurate form of knowledge construction ever created by humanity. This is the most reliable set of tools for understanding the world in which we live. Technology is the materialization of the success of science, and every technological progress is the result of a better understanding by mankind of the world.
But, paradoxically, the highest quality of science and its rigor are precisely its greatest limitation, since the scientific method of researching reality requires a critical assessment of the work of other experts. This concerns the need to document and reproduce the studied events and phenomena. This also includes obligations to collect reliable material and conceptual evidence. These rules cannot be avoided, although they are not suitable for solving many problems.
Science and Ufology
Ufology is a field of research that does not formally fit into scientific research. However, the lack of science does not mean that this discipline of research does not work.
History shows examples of how pseudosciences, such as alchemy and astrology, have inspired the growth of science, such as chemistry and astronomy. Because ufologists are convinced of their hypothesis that on Earth other forms of intelligence, they should unite in research groups. If possible, adopt scientific practices and try to collect concrete evidence that can be presented to society. Those thousands of photos, videos, and reviews are not enough evidence to believe in extraterrestrial intelligence.
Science is responsible and must act as the most rigorous and sophisticated filter of human knowledge. But isn’t science interested in finding extraterrestrial beings?
Science, called astrobiology, is formally exploring the real possibility that life outside Earth and life on Earth can colonize other worlds. From a scientific point of view, life outside the Earth is more likely than not.
In our understanding, life originates from the presence of liquid water. Certain chemical elements are required, such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, as well as an energy source for chemical reactions and metabolism. Other requirements are the heat of the nearest star, geothermal activity due to the decay of radioactive elements and / or gravitational tides.
All of these requirements, or components, are not uncommon in the universe. Moreover, given the gigantic dimensions of the universe, important elements can be combined in a huge number of worlds, such as planets, moons, dwarf planets, meteors, comets and even traveler planets. Therefore, it is likely that life has developed in many places.
Today, scientific evidence is accumulating that some life forms, especially microorganisms, can be catapulted from their home worlds under the influence of meteorites or comets to other worlds. They can survive within the fragments of their world in space and ultimately reach and to colonize an alien planet.
Thus, in theory, life can spread throughout the universe without having to be smart enough to build spaceships. This is the theory of panspermia, and if the mechanism works, then life can be even more abundant in space than we imagine.
Can aliens be found?
If we believe that life can be commonplace in space, how can we find it? Astrobiology relies on what we know about earthly life to seek alien life. Therefore, in order to try to detect intelligent extraterrestrial beings, we analyze what types of signals our species already emits to the stars.
In this case, radio signals are a great bet. At least since the 1940s, mankind has inadvertently emitted television, radio and radar signals into space in the form of electromagnetic radiation in the range of radio waves. If any nearby alien civilization directs the radio telescope in our direction, it will be able to detect them.
Like the astronomer Frank Drake in 1960, as part of the Ozma project, scientists used the Green Bank radio telescope in the United States to study the star systems of Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. Officially, this is the first science-based initiative to study extraterrestrial intelligence and is the prototype of the SETI program (the search for intelligent life outside the Earth).
Since then, SETI has worked for decades without detecting a single smart signal. True, in 1977 an interesting, exciting Wow appeared! The signal aroused suspicions of its reasonable origin, but it could not be confirmed, despite numerous attempts.
Although it may seem that the search for aliens has been a very long time and all to no avail – this is not so. In fact, we are still exploring the equivalent of a drop in the sea. The advantage of radio waves is that sending them is cheap and does not require precise guidance. In this case, the signal travels over considerable distances in space without significant interference.
To deepen this entertaining search quest, more exotic interstellar communication ideas are also being discussed, such as stellar light modulation and even the use of gravitational waves. Of course, if aliens are a much more advanced species than us, then they will use the communication technology that we even have no idea about. Perhaps that is why extraterrestrial life remains undetectable for us.