ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Astronomy & Space Exploration

Life on Other Worlds

Updated on July 11, 2015
A small part of the universe
A small part of the universe

Can there be life elsewhere in the universe?

The question of whether there is life on other worlds is one of the great debates. The existence of extraterrestrial life cannot be proven categorically. However, it seems useful to present available facts, avoid stating opinion as fact, and to provide some definitions and illustrations that might help to cast light on this question.

A Broader Definition of Life is Needed

Before answering the question posed in this article, I believe a much broader definition of life is needed. Our understanding of what life might exist seems to be based closely on life that we are aware of on this planet. One of the main arguments against the theory that life could exist on other planets is the absence of the main elements our scientists know to be vital to life on this planet. They point out that there is no evidence that these conditions for life exist on other planets.

Therefore, we must first of all consider what life is, and when something is merely inert.
An outline definition of life could be that creatures have senses – eyesight, hearing, touch, and pain. Life-forms can be categorised in various ways. Generally, on this planet species eat other species in order to survive. Some species have a grasp of the idea of past and future.

The method of functioning in various creatures – in humans, for example – has been analysed in detail. Blood is produced and pumped around the body. Throughout the life of an individual creature, its body will grow and mature. Sustenance is drawn into the body, digested and used to sustain life. Also, oxygen is drawn into the body by means of breathing. Oxygen in particular is vital to life-forms on planet Earth.
What creatures and organisms seem to have in common is that they have bodily functions, have senses, draw sustenance into themselves and expel waste. Some also have limbs to enable them to cope better in their environment.

It could be said that the bodily organs of any species depends on various changes in order to function. This applies in the human body, for example, where each biological function is the result of changes of some kind, which will cause a chain-reaction of changes in the body. Breathing, blood circulation, eating and digestion, or movement all require changes in one or more bodily organs in order to happen.

I would suggest that, in fact, change is the one vital factor required for something to be alive. This single factor will make possible processes that could in due course result in something being alive. Unless change takes place then the object or material must, in other words be inert, or dead.

An Outline Illustration of Life

As many people seem unable to contemplate the possibility of life apart from what exists on this planet, it might help if you could disregard life-forms that exist on this planet, and imagine instead a very complex machine.
The purpose of this machine is irrelevant; it merely exists and functions. It has a section that draws into itself something that stimulates change in its various sections. There are various devices located in different sections that will take decisions. The machine has sensory devices. These gather information on changes in the area surrounding the machine.
All the various sections and devices are activated by change which is caused either by activity from other sections or by whatever is drawn into the machine. In due course that will be expelled.
Depending on how the machine is activated by the matter drawn into it, that matter might be neither oxygen nor any other gas or substance known on planet Earth. It might be heat or a flux of magnetic energy.
Further complexities could be added if the machine needs to move around to obtain fuel or energy sources. It might have to hunt, and defend itself against other hunters. It is only a small step further to assume that the machine might be made of organic matter, lives in an organic environment, and reproduces itself.

Could life, possibly of a kind illustrated by this machine, exist elsewhere in the universe?

How Big is the Universe?

How many planets might there be in the universe? Perhaps for this purpose I should define the universe as including absolutely all the stars, planets and everything else in space. Also, I define space as anywhere as far as one might go in any direction from our planet.

My own viewpoint on the size of the universe is that it must be limitless. After all, quite simply, if the universe is of a limited size, and therefore has boundaries, then what lies outside the universe? If the universe is limitless then surely the number of galaxies, stars and planets must also be limitless.

I think the potential for life in the universe must therefore, by definition, be so great that maybe there is, on a distant planet, someone who has recently written an article very much like this.

© 2012 Peter Ray

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image
      Author

      Peter Ray 4 years ago from Birmingham UK

      I appreciate your comment about probability. You certainly have a point there, Burnell Andrews.

      Thanks for your interest.

    • Burnell Andrews profile image

      Burnell Andrews 4 years ago from LaBelle, Florida

      But then again, since we know very little about how common life is out there or uncommon, or what type, or how common uncommon intelligence is, it might be all aliens are humnoid, evolved exactly like humans and have life forms exactly like our own, it's hard to determine probability with a sample of one.

    • profile image
      Author

      Peter Ray 4 years ago from Birmingham UK

      Thanks for your comment, psbhatt. Glad you like it.

    • psbhatt profile image

      PISUPATI SRINIVAS BHATT 4 years ago from HYDERABAD

      We humans tend to subconsciously expect to find similar life forms in other habitable planets. This is not correct as pointed out by you. Great hub.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)