From life to dark matter to the billion-year-old technological civilizations: In 2019, several leading astrophysicists at NASA and Harvard and Columbia universities publicly announced their view that aliens are not science fiction: that advanced and ancient technological civilizations may exist, but are beyond our comprehension or ability to detect.
Already in NASA Contact Conference In 2002, which focused on serious speculation about advanced extraterrestrial life, one participant interrupted the keynote speech with the remark:
We have absolutely no idea what is out there!
In 2019, the Harvard astronomer, Avi Loeb wrote in his blog that aliens are not science fiction:
I don’t see extraterrestrials as more speculative than dark matter or extra dimensions. I think it’s the other way around.
Law of Great Numbers
Silvano P. Colombano from NASA’s Ames Research Center says:
Our life form and intelligence may just be a small first step in a continuous evolution that may well produce forms of intelligence far superior to ours that are no longer based on carbon machines.
The exoplanet discoveries made by the Kepler Mission (image above) identified the 10.4 billion-year-old planetary system (Kepler-10) and 11.2 billion-year-old (Kepler-444), providing a solid basis for Colombano’s speculation.
On average, all Milky Way stars have two planets in orbit. According to NASA, one fifth of these stars have a planet that can be conducive to life as we imagine it. This translates into 50 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way alone – one of the two trillion galaxies in the observable universe.
Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, said:
If you are going to say that there is no chance of finding life elsewhere, you must think that there is something truly miraculous on Earth. And this is a suspicious point of view, that we are miraculously better than all the other planets.
Given that our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old, there could be Earth-like planets, six billion years older than ours. Whereas further the technological development in our civilization began only about 10,000 years ago and saw the rise of science in the last 500 years only, Colombano watches that we may have difficulty predicting technological developments even in the next thousand years, and even less than six million times that amount.
Our life form and intelligence may just be a small first step in continuous evolution, which may well produce forms of intelligence far superior to ours that are no longer based on carbon “machines.” After a mere 50 years of computer evolution, the human species is already talking about “super intelligence” and we are fast becoming symbiotic with the power of the computer.
In other words, technological civilizations may exist, but they are beyond our comprehension or ability to detect, says Colombano, who proposes that we may have missed signals when it comes to looking for UFOs.
While it is still reasonable and conservative to suppose that life probably originated in conditions similar to ours, the large time differences in potential evolution make the likelihood of finding technology similar to ours very small.
According to him, this is a great obstacle to a “quick” discovery of signs of an advanced Milky Way civilization.
Dark Sector Visitors?
Pointing out that Arthur C. Clarke suggested that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic, the Columbia University astrophysicist, Caleb Scharf, says in his article “Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?”(Is the Law of Physics an Alien Intelligence?):
If you’re meeting a bunch of paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers, it would certainly seem quite magical. But the contrast is only average: farmers would still recognize it as basically them and would soon take selfies. But what if life has advanced so far that it doesn’t seem simply magical but physical?
Scharf takes an even more exquisite leap, suggesting:
Dark matter may be hiding life. Perhaps this is where all technologically advanced life ends or where most lives have always been. What better way to escape the unpleasant whims of supernova and gamma-ray bursts than to take a form immune to electromagnetic radiation?
But, not resting on his speculative laurels, Scharf’s beautifully non-politically correct mind delves deeper and suggests:
Perhaps the behavior of the normal cosmic matter that we attribute to dark matter is caused by something quite different: a living state that manipulates light matter for its own purposes. Consider that at the moment we do not identify dark matter particles or create a compelling alternative to our laws of physics that would explain the behavior of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Would an explanation in terms of life be less plausible than a flaw in established laws?
Milky Way visitors?
Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his collaborators, said in a 2019 study which suggests that it would not be so long before a space civilization jumped from planet to planet across the galaxy, because star orbits can help distribute life, offering a new solution to the planet. Fermi’s paradox:
It is possible that the Milky Way is partially seated or intermittently so; maybe the explorers visited us in the past, but we don’t remember, and they disappeared.
The solar system may well be among other established systems; It just hasn’t been visited for millions of years.
Infinite Space Life
Dan Hooper, head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, wrote in “At the Edge of Time”:
If space is truly infinite, the implications are astonishing. Within an infinite extent of space, it would be hard to see any reason why there were no infinite number of galaxies, stars and planets, and even an infinite number of intelligent or conscious beings scattered throughout this unlimited volume. This is the question of infinity: it takes things that are very unlikely and makes them inevitable.