- Education and Science»
- Astronomy & Space Exploration
Why Intelligent Alien Life in the Universe Is Beyond Our Reach
What stands in the way of finding one another?
Time imposes limitations to any form of communication. Physical distance creates barriers to successful travel missions. Even worse, intelligent lifeforms tend to destroy their ecosystem and don’t survive long enough to make contact with other worlds or to receive a reply while still alive.
When you consider the fact that there are millions of galaxies and each has possibly millions of solar systems, the chance of intelligent life existing elsewhere must be huge. However, that life form may not be what we think it is.
What are we looking for when we say we're searching for intelligent life?
Even on our own planet, just look at how vastly different each species is. Take birds for example. Birds don’t have arms, although their wings are an altercation of that. They have no hands or fingers to handle and manipulate their environment. Nevertheless, they are very adapted to their lifestyle.
There are fish that don’t have eyes. They live so deep under the ocean that they don’t need eyes. It’s pitch dark down there. That’s just another example of how different various forms of life can be.
Let’s not forget bacteria. These living creatures don’t even have brains. Bacteria can’t have brains because they are single-celled organisms and a brain is made up of multiple cells—actually neurons.
Bacteria survive very well, even without a brain. They probably have better survival skills than we do. Is that intelligence? Imagine being visited by an alien from outer space like that!
Okay, I think I made my point. So if the chances are so high that life exists elsewhere in one form or another, why have we not heard from them?
Ever since humans began looking up at the stars, we awed at the vastness of the universe. We felt it's unimaginable that we should be the only ones here.
With the latest technology, scientists have been very busy with the task of searching for intelligent life out in the universe. The task is known as "Active SETI". It works like this:
- We send radio signals into outer space announcing our presence in hopes that someone will receive those signals and respond.
- We monitor relentlessly all possible frequencies to find if there is anything being sent our way from someone who is thinking the same thing as we.
The problem is that due to the vastness of the universe, even at the speed of light these signals take too long to reach any possible extraterrestrial life within the same period of time that we humans exists.
It takes more than ten billion years for a signal to reach us from the farthest reaches of the universe.
If there is intelligent life elsewhere, they may be long gone by the time their transmission reaches us. In addition, we may be long gone by the time a response is received for our signals we send out.
I'll discuss several points that may be overlooked.
The Limitations of Time
I think time is the biggest problem with detecting life elsewhere, since our signals and theirs (if any) need to travel a distance of many light-years. The farther away any potential intelligent life may be, the greater the chances are that we both will miss each other's attempt at communication.
It's useless if we both exist at the same time. Think of it this way: If a signal takes ten billion years to reach the Earth, then that other intelligent civilization would have existed ten billion years ago and most likely is no longer around to receive our return communication.
Even if they were, imagine how different their descendants would be with billions of years of evolution. They may not even be interested in the attempts of their ancestors to communicate to find other life forms.
Furthermore, when you consider the fact that we humans only had the technology to communicate via radio signals for about 100 years, you'll understand what a small chance there is of meeting up with a similar species that has (or had) the same technology in the same small fraction of time.
Once all this is realized, one can appreciate how small the chance is of finding intelligent life somewhere else in the universe.
Are UFO's Visiting Our Planet?
The idea that we consider UFOs a reality stems from a limited knowledge of various forms of life. Who's to say that any life form that may try to visit us is anything like us? Why do we limit ourselves to thinking that they need to fly in spacecrafts resembling saucers that only we can imagine?
Let's just say, for a moment, that there is intelligent life elsewhere and that they are capable of visiting us. That life form may be so much bigger than us that we are just a piece of dust as far as they are concerned.
For this reason, they can't find us. We can't see them either because we are just molecules floating around, possibly in their bloodstream.
On the other hand, maybe we live on an atom that they are inhaling as they breathe.
It could also be possible that intelligent visitors are so small we can't see them. They might be flying around us right now. Like drones, but so small that we are not aware of them.
Maybe every dust particle floating through the air is actually a UFO from outer space with several little people inside, viewing us on their tele-macroscopic screens. (I made that word up.)
Once life evolves to the point of having self-consciousness, they destroy themselves.
Does Evolution Lead to Destruction?
Even if they are long gone, their signals might just be reaching us now since it takes billions of years to reach us at the speed of light.
One might think we should have picked up these signals that include some form of intelligent meaning in the code to compensate for language barriers.
I once read about an idea that whenever any life form evolves to the point where they develop self-consciousness, they end up destroying themselves. President John F. Kennedy might have realized this when he talked about peaceful evolution being impossible.1
Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.— President John F. Kennedy
This would explain the lack of any signals from outer space of intelligent life trying to discover another in the universe, even from billions of years ago.
The Protection of a Life-Supporting Planet
As I said earlier, there are millions of galaxies and that means there are billions or trillions of planets. However, any planet needs to be perfect in many ways to support life.
The Earth is special since it has a metal core. As the Earth rotates, that metal core becomes magnetized. The magnetic force surrounding our Earth diverts the dangerous solar wind plasma radiation towards the poles where no one lives.
If it weren’t for this magnetic field, the radiation of the solar winds would kill any chance of life on Earth.
This radiation, made up of electrons, protons and alpha particles, is what produces the polar lights as it falls in at the magnetic poles (Aurora Borealis in the north and the Aurora Australis in the south).2
We also have enough gravity to hold our atmosphere in place, and our ionosphere protects us from ultraviolet rays.
Water is another thing we need to support life. Water makes up 71% of the Earth’s surface.
Despite all the issues I mentioned that stand in the way, the chances that similar worlds exist elsewhere must be greater than zero due to the many millions of galaxies that exist.
However, the destruction of a species by their own actions, and the limitation of time to communicate, definitely stands in the way of any possibility of finding one another.
© 2015 Glenn Stok