Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why They Pass Us By...

Being a hopeless science fiction geek since my the early years of my childhood I am still fascinated to the extreme with the possibility of intelligent alien life somewhere out among the stars. For me, even though some serious scientists will debate the idea, the universe in general and our galaxy specifically is just too damn vast for intelligent life just to be a “possibility.” New research pushes the chance of alien life further into the realm of a near certainty.

Two Billions Reasons Why We're About to Find Earth 2

The new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that Earth-like planets capable of supporting life are far more common than previously thought.
To reach these figures, a research team led by Erik Petigura from the University of California, Berkely, used the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Kepler telescope to scan 42,000 Sun-like stars with the transit method of detection. Of the 603 planets found, 10 were the size of Earth, had rocky surfaces, and were situated within the habitable zone. And by habitable zone, astronomers refer to that narrow band within a solar system in which rocky planets can sustain liquid water and a complex atmosphere — precursors to the onset of microbial life.

Where once we had no certain proof of planets orbiting other stars we now know they are so common that new research suggests twenty-two percent of the sun-like stars in our galaxy have Earth-sized planets orbiting in that nice and comfortably warm habitable zone where water can exist as a liquid. Although the only life we humans know about, is of course, here on Earth it is tenacious in its ability to adapt and evolve under the most extreme conditions. So it's not a stretch of the imagination to believe that in our galaxy billions of world exist that not only have as rich and diverse biosphere as our planet but at some point hosted intelligent life.

Now I admit this is where science ends, numerous scientists covering an array of different fields can come up with reasons why intelligent life elsewhere in the universe might be extremely rare. And I know of one scientists in particular that explains the Great Silence with the idea that maybe intelligent life is common but these alien species have evolved into forms or environments that make a human-like technical civilization highly improbable. Still it defies my stunted imagination that in all the billions or years since the birth of our galaxy that we puny humans are the first and only sentient species.

Stressing the point even further lets assume intelligent life is common and that these species overcome their suicidal phases and develop a practical means of exploring the galaxy. Just one or two of these hypothetical mature and curious species could explore the entire galaxy in a couple of million years. Not to seem flippant but to me those of our own species who discount the idea of galactic exploration seem shortsighted. What is a mature, curious, and peaceful species suppose to do until their sun runs out of fuel or a nearby star goes super nova and sterilizes the home planet?

What is my point? While I admit I could be wrong but in my mind there should be a few intelligent species zipping around the galaxy exploring, colonizing, and even hanging out with, or at least observing, the galactic locals. Now Stephen Hawking and a few other scientists have raised the possibility that more advanced species do not necessarily have to be wise, friendly, or peaceful. If that is the case in simple term we are screwed if they find Earth because the power and technology it takes to cross the distance between stars means they could wipe us out on a casual whim.

However, barring the idea of galactic Nazis I personally have to believe most perpetually destructive races would go extinct before developing star flight. That leaves one other reason why we humans have not been contacted, just maybe they are avoiding us.

From Mother Jones:

George W. Bush to Raise Money for group That Converts Jews to Bring About Second Coming of Christ. 

Messianic Jews have long been controversial for Jews of all major denominations, who object to their proselytizing efforts and their message that salvation by Jesus is consistent with Jewish theology. Last year, Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, told Politico that former Sen. Rick Santorum's appearance at an event hosted by another Messianic Jewish organization, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, was "insensitive and offensive." And Commentary magazine, which bills itself as a "conservative American journal of politics, Judaism, social and cultural issues," noted, "it must be understood that the visceral distaste that the overwhelming majority of Jews have for the Messianics is not to be taken lightly." Many Messianic Jews are Christians who have adopted aspects of Jewish ritual observance; others are Jews who share the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah.


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

It strikes me not only as short-sighted, but somewhat narcissist to assume we are the only intelligent lifeforms in the whole stinking universe. (And I use the term "intelligent" with a grain of salt.) It's also incredibly narrow-minded to assume the only viable lifeforms are carbon-based. Just because that's the only basis for life as we know it doesn't mean that's all there is. Our knowledge is woefully finite, but the universe and its possibilities... ain't.

Pixel Peeper said...

Since we humans are pretty limited in our imagination as to what other life forms could look like, we might not recognize alien life if we stumbled across it.

What if alien life took on a shape that our eyes couldn't "see" - somewhat like certain sounds that our dogs can hear, but we can't?

Now, come to think of cat acted pretty weird a few times, like she saw something really freaky.

Akelamalu said...

I have always though it presumptuous of us thinking that we are the only intelligent beings in the universe.

goatman said...

Bush is a moron -- I am not even going to read his blurb.

But life abounds elsewhere. They are friendly and wear flowers in their hair. Just don't want to be seen and laughed at . . . !

Beach Bum said...

Susan: The eternal question of course is whether there is really any intelligent life on Earth. I'd say the chimps are our best candidates.

Pixel: Good points, in fact I believe my cat is both extremely cool and intelligent. His weird looks come from having to deal with me.

Akelamalu: Absolutely, I just hope they are friendly.

Goatman: Absolutely! When I read the story about the Jews for Jesus convention Georgie boy fell to a new low. A difficult task but he has a talent for it.