Thoughts about ET

The search for alien life beyond our planet, even beyond our own galaxy, has been in the news quite often of late:

  • a scientist has seriously suggested at a recent meeting of world scientists that we should be looking for alien life on our own planet.  He believes that quite possibly life has landed here from outer space – possibly on the tale of a comet – more than once.  If so, it might still be pulsing away in some unexpected corners of and crevices of Earth.
  • both water and methane have been found on Mars.  Water is an essential ingredient of any form of life as we know it;  methane is produced by many forms of life.  So there could be life on Mars even now.
  • scientists estimate that there may be as many as 100 billion Earth-like planets in our own Milky Way galaxy.  What would an Earth-like planet, capable of supporting life as we know it, be like?  First, it would be rocky, not gaseous.  It would have water, and be close enough to its sun that water doesn’t freeze, but far enough away that it doesn’t boil.  A moon would be helpful, because the moon creates tides and helps ruffle up the surface of the earth, mixing chemicals and organisms in the oceans’ waters, which encourages small organisms to grow and provides food for larger life forms.
  • earlier this month, Nasa launched the Kepler Space Telescope to look for Earth-like planets outside our galaxy.
  • and then there is the mysterious signal from outer space received in 1977 that  lasted 37 seconds and had the characteristics predicted for an alien signal.  No one has yet been able to explain it.  

The question is, if we did find ExtraTerrestrial life, how would we respond?  Would we try to kill it?


About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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2 Responses to Thoughts about ET

  1. Michael Safdiah says:

    Naturally we would kill it; it is the nature of man to deal with anything we do not understand by seeing it as a threat. Has Hollywood taught us nothing?

    • I’m afraid I agree with you. Our first response would be to try to kill it whether it was as small as a virus or as big as King Kong. We would fear it if it were beautiful and intelligent and kind or if it were ugly and aggressive. I would like to say it is because we are stupid and egocentric, but I suspect it’s because of a profound evolutionary response that gives us an instinctive fear of the unknown. Sometimes that has contributed to our survival. But often it is irrational and seemingly unstoppable.
      Let us hope if humans ever do encounter alien life that either we don’t recognize it as alien or that it is both friendly and able to withstand our attack.
      Thank you for your thoughts. THS

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