The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

The Outer Worlds

Robert Franklin

Posted on January 24, 2020 14:13

0 user

I am about as rigid when it comes to the supernatural as someone can be. I don't believe in a single God, a pantheon of gods, or any configuration of gods. I don't believe in ghosts. I don't believe in demons. I don't believe in monsters, miracles, magic, karma, or reincarnation. However...

I think there is a probability that life on Earth is not the only life that exists in the Universe. That doesn't mean I believe people have been abducted and probed by little green men, or that extra-terrestrials helped shape the pyramids, or that the government leaked an alien autopsy video to Rupert Murdoch, or whatever new Usenet conspiracy theory is coming around the cultural bend.

I'm not this guy:

Giorgio Tsoukalos, the Ancient Aliens Guy (KnowYourMeme)

 

But when the fanaticism is stripped aside, the likelihood of life existing on other planets is actually good math. We now know that the mechanisms for the creation of life on any given planet are not unique to our own, and if the panspermia theory holds any weight, the idea that life could be transferred from one celestial body to the next via interstellar bodies and impact events makes the possibility that life on Earth shares the universe with other life far more appreciable.

But that doesn't necessarily mean intelligent life, or at least intelligent by our admittedly-lacking definition of it. For human beings, the constant scientific and philosophical pedantry of the "what is life?" debate is largely framed by our specific understanding of what intelligent life may be, meaning how intelligent life (as we know it) flourished (on Earth).

So, where is everyone, as Fermi is credited to have asked seventy years ago? Well, that's complicated. If your benchmark for the discovery of extra-terrestrial life includes simple, unicellular organisms, we've apparently already found it. But if the burden of proof rests in the presentation of complex life, like humans, then the waters get a bit more murky.

It's hard to say whether or not any other planets in the Universe contain complex, autonomous life, but that doesn't mean it's been ruled out. There are a multitude of factors that could explain why humans haven't found evidence of other, say, space-faring civilizations on the myriad of discovered exoplanets. We might not have looked in the right place yet, or more specifically, due to the finite speeds in which light travels, what we see when we look at these exoplanets exists in the past, so to speak.

Consider the distance between Earth and Kepler-186f, an Earth-like exoplanet in the habitable zone of red dwarf star Kepler-186. At a distance of 557.7 light-years, what we see regarding Kepler-186f happened almost 558 years ago, by our frame of reference. For the sake of simplicity, if the planetary history of Kepler-186f developed exactly as Earth's had, we wouldn't be able to observe a hypothetical race of intelligent life on Kepler-186f launch their first probes into space for another five centuries.

Their 1957 occurs in our year 2514.

So it's not just where we look for intelligent life, but when we look, and to me, that's too monumental a detail to immediately rule that life on Earth is alone in the Universe.

Robert Franklin

Posted on January 24, 2020 14:13

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: FOX News

Saturn's moon Enceladus has an even better chance of supporting extraterrestrial life than previously thought: researchers...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest