Life Beyond?

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. — Albert Einstein

I read a Huffington Post article this morning about a recently declassified US Navy video that caught a fast-moving UFO. Aliens or not, the pilots sure got excited!

Wherever you stand on the UFO debate, it’s an interesting one. I think the most compelling argument against alien life is simply if there are others out there, why haven’t they made contact? I tend to think believing we humans are alone in the entire universe is part of our Christian roots – “we’re all alone because God made the whole shebang, including us in his image.” Creationism vs. evolution aside, there’s a whole lot to consider on this subject!

Does our government believe in alien life?

Maybe. It turns out there was an official UFO investigation program within the Department of Defense from 2007-2012. Sources say it was “officially” dissolved in 2012 but continues “unofficially” today. Before that, Project Blue Book investigated UFO phenomena from 1947 until 1969. Most of the 12,000 sightings investigated by Project Bluebook were debunked, but some 700 were never explained, which isn’t evidence of aliens, but it sure leaves room for speculation.

SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) was unofficially established around 1959 for the sole purpose of looking for alien life. It was originally based on the idea that we could use radio waves to search for signals from other planets. While SETI is privately funded and not-for-profit, its projects have been heavily sponsored by universities, corporations, and the government. Today, SETI does much more than sit around listening for unusual radio signals, expanding its reach to exploration and understanding of the origin and nature of life in the universe at large.

Ancient Aliens?

One of my favorite arguments for alien life is the existence of ancient alien art…

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Not only are these drawings very “alien” many of the ancient ruins where they’re found are aligned along geographical medians – covering areas of up to 600km.

The History Channel did a whole series on the subject of Ancient Aliens, speculating that extraterrestrials may have been visiting the Earth for millions of years!

A Big Problem

In my mind, the primary problem with the whole argument is the question of speed. Most scientists agree that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light – even reaching the speed of light would require infinite energy and if you did somehow reach that speed, slowing down or stopping would require even more energy.

Consider this, in 2017 scientists discovered 7 Earth-sized planets – 39 light years away from us around a star named TRAPPIST-1. For a space shuttle, which averages around 17,500 mph, it would take about 1.5 million years to get there! So the argument becomes – if we can’t get there, how can they get here? And, if they could get here, why on earth would they want to (unless it’s to steal our resources or “serve man”)?

Science is all about Change

All science is basically theoretical – it’s made up of ideas for which we can demonstrate reasonable evidence. The trick is that science is constantly changing, constantly proving itself wrong – or maybe it’s more accurate to say, it’s constantly understanding more and coming up with better theories. A few examples…

  • We once thought that the Earth sat stationary at the center of the universe and that the sun and all the planets orbited around it (geocentrism).
  • Pluto was one of 9 planets in our solar system until 2006, when scientists decided it was really just a dwarf (smaller than our moon).
  • Until about 1998, most agreed that dinosaurs were reptiles – then we learned that dinosaurs likely had feathers and were more closely related to birds.
  • We once thought atoms were the smallest element of matter – then we discovered that atoms are made up of even smaller particles called quarks and leptons.

I would never stand hard on any single argument for or against alien life. I think the real magic is in having the curiosity to consider the possibilities.

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