Contact ♦ More than 400 years ago, Giordano Bruno, an Italian humanist theologian and theologian of the Renaissance era, wrote that “there is countless earth in space that orbits other suns and that could host similar creatures, even superior to those of humanity our Earth. “
The visionary was burned in Rome in 1600. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the scientific-fantastic works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells have begun to popularize the idea of alien life. Now controversial researcher Stephen Hawking tells a world that aliens exist, but that it would be wise for us to avoid contact with them.
UFO – a story older than we think
The desire to Contact with the supposed intelligent forms of life on other planets is much older than the “UFO hysteria” aged in the twentieth century or the first radio message sent to aliens in 1974, with the help of the huge telescope at Arecibo, the science is still waiting for the answer. The idea flourished in the seventeenth century when the theory of the “plurality of worlds” was launched for the first time, giving Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle the author of the 1686 “Conversation on the Pluralism of the Worlds” study. Perhaps the best-known promoter of this proposal was the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss who, in 1820, proposed the reflection of the sun’s rays on the planets around the Earth with the aid of a device he himself designed, the heliotrope.
He is also credited with the idea of triangular deforestation of huge forested areas of Siberia and their cultivation with wheat, all to indicate our presence to possible alien visitors. Twenty years later, astronomer Joseph von Littrow proposed a similar idea. It supported, no more, no less than the digging of a giant triangular channel, nearly 30 kilometres long, to be filled systematically with kerosene and lit every night to demonstrate the presence of intelligent forms of life on Terra of those who were interested in discovering them.
In 1869, French inventor Charles Cros imagined a series of parabolic mirrors to transmit bright signals through electric lamps to the other planets of the solar system, while British statistician Francis Galton proposed, three decades later, using a Morse code-like radio code.
In 1901, Nikola Tesla announced the reception of a mysterious signal, possibly from Mars, through the giant or transmitter in Colorado Springs. 19 years later, Guglielmo Marconi told reporters he had detected a radio signal from alien space. Such opinions could not be overlooked and it was only a matter of time until an organized authority designed to take the trace of extraterrestrial life was set up.
Seeking to Contact aliens
This happened in 1959 when the institute set up under the name of “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” (SETI) was commissioned to systematically research the cosmos in search of civilizations on other planets. In the half-century of activity, the project crossed several interesting episodes. At that time, everybody imagines that extraterrestrial beings are necessarily intelligent, more evolved than we, and preferably humanoid.
Meanwhile, from the optimistic predictions of the discovery of a truly alien civilization, made up of highly intelligent living creatures, we came to a more realistic understanding of the problem and we began to gratify the possibility of some primitive forms of life, whether they be some bacteria, to give us hope for the future. Together with other space research programs, generally funded by NASA or ESA, SETI explores the celestial bodies through telescopes and cosmic probes primarily seeking life-suited conditions and then evidence of its existence.
With increasingly advanced technical means, SETI spends most of its time listening to the “voices” of the Universe, and occasionally sending signals from Earth that we expect to respond to Contact. And he’s been doing this for 50 years. Among SETI’s achievements is the discovery of pulsars, the identification of traces of organic matter on a 4.5 billion-year-old Martian rock and the frozen water on Mars. In addition, the Voyager 1 space probe is currently at approx. 10 billion kilometres away from the Earth, the radio signals emitted from it need 15 hours to reach us.
In 2005, NASA announced that Voyager 1 has reached the border area on the edge of our solar system. It will cross over the next 6 years and, in 2015, it will become the first object created by man to reach the interstellar space. The Kepler Telescope has so far identified 423 rocky exoplanets, whose resemblance to the Earth is questionable, but whose existence gives hope to scientists about identifying evolved lives.
“Are we alone in the Universe? Probably not!”
An unusual feature for a researcher, Stephen Hawking is a famous astrophysicist all over the world. His name is assimilated, at least by profans, with the ultimate authority in astronomical judgments and physico-mathematical calculations. He can be considered, with a little wide-ranging, the star of the scientific world everywhere. The former professor of Cambridge’s physics-mathematics department has been extensively publicized, both because of his non-conformist theories about the universe, but also for his intelligence-coincidence – who suspects he is reaching 160, Hawking refusing to do the test – with a muscular dystrophy syndrome that, since the age of his youth, immobilized him in a wheelchair, forcing him to communicate exclusively with the help of a voice synthesizer.
At a 2008 conference on the 50th anniversary of NASA’s existence, Professor Stephen Hawking made a statement that awakened the audience’s curiosity. To the question “Are we alone in space?”, He gave a quick answer: “Probably not.” Professor Hawking said life in the universe is possible, but not the way we imagine it. Simple or intelligent forms of life can form in conditions quite different from those on Earth, so there is a likelihood that they will have nothing in common with the human traits we usually “borrow”.
“There is a great possibility to find simple life on other planets, but intelligent life is certainly a rarity,” the researcher said. Also, Hawkins does not believe in extraterrestrial kidnapping theory.
In the scientist’s opinion, this would not be without a trace, because the likelihood that their DNA will be different is quite high, as well as the possibility of carrying diseases for which we do not have immunity. And vice versa. Other astrobiologists have said we have imagined that alien beings are roughly “built in our image and likeness.” Biochemists speculate on the role carbon plays in this regard. Since carbon is a key component of life on Earth, we tend to speculate that this is true throughout the Universe.
In fact, the researchers have identified the presence of many elements that could have the same effect, but without the same form. In their view, even arsenic could support life under certain conditions. On Earth, there are organisms that use arsenic to generate energy and facilitate growth. Chlorine and sulphur are other candidates for carbon replacement, like nitrogen and phosphorus, which can form biochemical molecules. The example of tardigrade organisms, very earthly, and capable of surviving in conditions wholly unfit to live as we understand it, is a very conclusive one.
As far as the need for water is concerned, its presence is not mandatory. Ammonia has water-like properties, so even a mixture of the two elements keeps the lower temperatures for longer than normal water, so astronomers do not expect to identify the water we know on Earth. An example of this is in our solar system, Saturn’s largest satellite, Titan. All of these elements manifest themselves otherwise in our environment. But if we find it in an alien environment, their reactions are different.
In this perspective, water and carbon could become elements unfavourable to life in the planetary environment. There are a few findings that lead the researchers to believe that there may be more life in space than we can ever detect – the absence of evidence without proof of absence. Returning to Hawking’s position as to the existence of aliens, the specialist believes that eventual contact with them might be disastrous for humanity.
“In a Universe with hundreds of billions of galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars, Terra is unlikely to be the only place where life has ever come. For my mathematical brain, the existence of extraterrestrials is perfectly rational.” This is Stephen Hawking’s conviction.
The 68-year-old scientist believes that the most likely forms of extraterrestrial life could be “simple” microorganisms and animals: “After all, these species have dominated the Earth for millions of years.”
“But,” warns former Cambridge professor, “contact with aliens might be devastating to the human race. Let’s think of the discovery of America in 1492. When Columbus landed in America, things did not go too well for indigenous people”.
“After all the resources of their own planet have been exhausted, intelligent alien aliens could go to hunters through the galaxies to discover other planets to take advantage of. These beings could subdue and colonize planets on a giant ship.
It’s enough to look at ourselves to figure out what could bring such contact. “
What should we look for Contact?
How life started, and if it still exists, and in other parts of the Universe, it remains, from the time of the ancient Greeks, over 2,500 years, one of the fascinating questions in the world of science. The conclusive answer is still missing, even though the so-called bizarre UFO appearances over the decades assail us with a systematic but ambiguous overflight of the sky, and the cosmic exploration probes have found ice deposits on the Moon and emissions of methane gas on Mars – the main candidate, in the collective imagination at least, of the list of planets suspected of hosting life forms.
Vague traces of biological material have been identified with indulgence in various alien environments, but never reached a firm conclusion that non-terrestrial non-terrestrial forms of life would exist. Even though human crew-space expeditions have not fallen far from the moon, scientists believe they are not entitled to hope for the possibility of identifying alien life on any of the planets or satellites of the Solar System. Instead, they look at new horizons. Not only are other suns orbited by other planets abundant in both the Milky Way and the Universe, but at least a solar system almost identical to ours has recently been observed in the Cosmos.
Similarly, many hundreds of Earth-like exoplanets are constantly discovered almost daily by NASA, the Kepler project, “Identifying New Earths.” Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, under whose ice crust the researchers think it might be liquid water, should not be neglected. It is obvious that this new knowledge has fueled astronomers and enthusiasts with daring fantasies about the potential of these worlds to sustain life.
To Contact intelligent aliens, perhaps we need to evolve. We should probably understand how life begins and evolves.
An extraordinary number of species has taken place on our planet in the 4.5 billion years of natural history. For a billion years, primitive “gangs” have exhausted oxygen, transforming the poisonous atmosphere of the young Earth and freeing the ground for our eventual appearance. We know from the fossils that a multitude of swimmers and dragons, such as trilobites, evolved from Paleozoic through the Cambrian era, 550 million years ago. The next 200 million years have met the transformation of land, surface relief and underwater, offering a habitat to exotic creatures – dragonflies like seagulls, one-mile-long myriapods, giant scorpions and colossal marine monsters. Then came dinosaurs.
Their sudden disappearance has opened the way for mammals – the evolution of primates and ours.
Apparently, we are the result of time and risk. If evolution were to resume, perhaps there would be no more people, nor can we predict what would become the dominant species in our place. So we can not express firmly about the possibility and shape of intelligence on another planet, be it Earth-like. We know all these things about our own evolution, but we give up anything to discover a second example, be it even at the very first stages of life formation.
The habitable zones of the Cosmos are vast, apparently, and could abound in alien life. If we discover it, it depends on us, to the extent that it is a life-spiralling and exclusive form of life, if it is superior to us as evolution and intelligence. Perhaps at our current, wise, advanced civilizations that have been observing us for a long time, they consider it dangerous for them or for us at this moment of our journey through the Universe.
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