There Probably Are Aliens Out There, But Not How We Envision Them
A U. S. Navy Commander piloting a fighter jet over the Pacific in 2004 spotted something weird. An object that hovered over the water, churning it to almost look as if the water was boiling. Then, moments later, it accelerated away at a shocking speed. So what the (blank) was it?
We’ve all been wondering pretty much exactly that ever since that story became public, many of us even before that when we have seen something in the sky we cannot explain. But it’s lately reached a fever pitch, you might even say we’ve become obsessed.
In June the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its long-awaited report on the topic of UFOs. But it didn’t exactly explain away any of the 144 accounts the report took up. Are we alone in the Universe? : Are aliens real?
Claire Isabel Webb, a Historian/Anthropologist of Science at the Berggruen Institute, for example, answered like this:
“Based on what we know about earth’s biochemistry and the profusion of life here, the deluge of exoplanet detection in the last three decades that tells us that most stars have planets, and a new understanding of ‘weird’ life-forms on earth that hints to all kinds of exotic life-forms beyond it, scientists now think it is very probable that extraterrestrial life exists elsewhere in the universe, perhaps even in our local solar system.”
Translation: Yeah, there are probably aliens out there.
We’ve over time generated hosts of guesses about what aliens look like: gray creatures with large black eyes or ET-looking characters. Advanced creatures from a kinder civilization as well as the evil ones, ready to colonize and, and take our natural resources.
Basically, we are on the lookout for intelligent life that feels familiar to us—that has some recognizable traits.
We want to find alien life we can have a conversation with, perhaps even someone who can help us.
If we discovered little green men...would that do it? If we found a planet covered in trees and birdlike creatures, would that satisfy us?
“I don’t think any of those things is really going to give us the satisfaction that we get in a sci-fi film,” says Jason Wright, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics and the director of the Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center.
What if aliens aren’t even “beings” the way we think of them? What if we detect a signal from a robot designed to continuously send out radio waves in all directions? Would we consider it “life” at all?
There are two trillion galaxies out there. Do you really think we are alone in the Cosmos?
Our universe is a big place and it’s very unlikely that we are the only technologically advanced beings who are asking this question. There is probably “life” throughout the Universe. But even if there is life that has evolved as we have, there’s a danger that we won’t be able to recognize it. Maybe the answer is rethinking what we’ve always assumed life is.
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