Friday, February 21, 2014

Do Aliens Exist?

In recent years, the word “alien” has been thrown around a lot, to give a shorter name to extraterrestrial life. This word and its vague definition have become a vital piece of science fiction, and even popular culture. There are many blockbuster films with aliens in them, such as Alien, E.T., and of course, Star Wars, and there are also children’s shows with characters like Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes. Although aliens have become such a big part of our culture, we have yet to find evidence as to whether they even exist. Despite this lack of evidence, by looking at the Universe that surrounds us, we can find suggestive evidence for the existence of aliens.

An alien as portrayed in the 1986
film Aliens.
Firstly, our Sun is one mere star in this gigantic Universe. There is an estimated 100 billion stars in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and there are billions, if not trillions of galaxies in the visible Universe. And observations have brought to light that, at least in our neighborhood of the Milky Way, most of the stars have planets orbiting around them. With such a large number of stars and planets, wouldn’t it be extremely unlikely that the Earth was the only planet with intelligent life? With so many stars and planets, it is extremely likely that at least one other environment can support intelligent life to the extent that the Earth has, if not more.

Another piece of evidence supporting the existence of aliens is the existence of water in many other locations across the Universe. Even in our own Solar System, Europa, a moon of Jupiter, may have a liquid-based ocean, and there is evidence pointing to the fact that liquid water might be flowing underneath the surface of Mars. Along with the Earth and moon, evidence of water has been found on other moons of Jupiter, namely, Ganymede and Callisto, as well as two of the moons of Saturn. Think about how many bodies of water there might be in our enormous Universe. Because of this abundance of water sources, there is a good chance that at least one could harbor life.

The next two points supporting the fact that aliens could exist are based on how life thrives on Earth. Life evolved fast on our 4.5 billion-year-old Earth, as bacteria were found 3.4 billion years ago. As bacteria are already thought to be complex organisms, there was likely life before that too. Evolution has the possibility of following the same or a similar path in other planets. From another perspective, life seems to thrive in the most extreme environments. For example, sea spiders and other organisms live at the bottom of the ocean, where if a human even dared to venture, he would be immediately crushed by the immense water pressure. This shows that life can adapt to tough conditions, and although the Universe may be filled with tough environments, life can indeed prosper in some of those. These facts of course, only hold true if simple life can actually develop on other planets in the first place. The existence of extremophiles gives us evidence to say that abiogenesis is common, permitting us to hold our prior points.

The last point is more of a conspiracy theory rather than factually-supported conjecture. Many people believe that aliens have already visited, and I myself have seen countless TV shows and specials claiming that flying saucers, UFOs, and humanoid organisms (thought to be aliens), have been spotted in the past. However, for this to be true, yet unknown to the public, it must be a very well-kept secret. Is it really possible for humanity’s leaders to keep a secret this big under control? I doubt it, but what you want to believe is up to you.

Finally, note that we still have no solid evidence of the existence of higher level life forms, (like the ones seen in movies), but do have some conjectures supporting the fact that the conditions in other places of the Universe could support the existence of lower level life forms, (which are ultimately what are being observed in this blog post). Although no one is sure that these life forms do or do not exist, my personal belief is that they do. But, what do you, the reader, think: Do aliens exist?

For more information, click here.
Arjun Manimaran