Columnist discusses the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its implications for the Earth
By Matthew Shepherd, ’19
Little green men creating crop circles and blowing up important landmarks are the first things that pop into people’s minds when they think of aliens. But this notion of hostile, super-intelligent beings capable of interstellar travel and intent on destroying the human race is highly implausible, to say the least. The thought that we are completely alone in the cosmos is as unlikely, if not more so. According to Phys.org, a web-based science research and technology news service, “the distance to the edge of the observable universe is about 46 billion light years.”
With this number in mind, it seems illogical that we are the only living beings in the cosmos. Sadly, it also displays how astronomical the odds of finding other lifeforms really are.
However, this does not mean that the search for intelligent life is futile. Even on its own, finding other living, breathing, thinking beings would be an awe-inspiring and mystical experience, it would also go a long way to furthering our own civilization. Much like how countries here on Earth traded knowledge in order to advance, the same could be done between neighbors among the cosmos. Our methods of space travel, energy production or even just intellectual methods could be forever altered in a positive direction.
Aliens do not have to be anything like us, or even as evolved as we are, in order to lead to scientific advancement.
Even finding microbial life such as bacteria could shape our intellectual spheres for centuries. Ideally, we would learn new information that could translate into discovering our own past, such as the evolution from bacterial life to a sentient form of living being.
Life on other planets would also indicate the possibility of one of my personal goals for the human race: to become an interstellar species. If we could find and colonize habitable planets, not only could we advance our understanding of the universe, but keep the species alive in the case of disaster here on Earth.
Extraterrestrial life is most likely not science-fiction. It is not something to be feared, and it is not something to be ridiculed as a ridiculous ideas only perpetuated by “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”. Statistically speaking, aliens are almost guaranteed to exist, and it would be beneficial, or at the very least interesting for the human race to find them.