Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Social: First Contact (Microbes Count Too) In Twenty Years
“We are the Borg…”
Not exactly the kind of first contact I would like humanity to make. Especially, it if will be our first and last find of alien life outside of Earth or our solar system. However, life will not be denied, according to this Popular Science post quoting Andrei Finkelstein, Russian director at the Academy of Sciences’ Applied Astronomy Institute.
Based on that belief, we’ll find life within two decades. There is more to the post and a recommended read. Here, I’m just going to added a few words.
Life. Sure I like that to happen. I, too, believe we’ll find that we are not alone in this universe. I’m sure life is just everywhere within our Milk Way. Heck, I’m pretty certain we don’t have to venture too far beyond our interstellar neighborhood. I think we even have the ability to see clear or gain the ability to take a stroll down the equivalent of a stroll down the street, we’ll find that lots of neighbors.
The question comes back to what kinds of neighbors. A bubbling pool of primordial amino acids and other organic or silicon based complex molecules struggle to find a way to spark life or single cell bacteria thriving in an atmosphere that would surely be toxic to oxygen based life forms like us?
Or will we find a fully developed and enlightened species who we can have an exchange of information and culture?
After all, the latter is the reason why the scientists among us and scifi fans want SETI and other endeavors to look for life to continue. But why is that? Because if aliens were to suddenly appear before the at the UN, we are not likely going to ban together and forget our currently worldly social and economic struggles.
Then again, it’s like what President Ronald Reagan said in a speech to the UN in 1987 about how an alien threat would instantly united all of humanity. I’m pretty sure this is the reason why we are looking for alien life – one that can be a boogeyman for all of mankind.
Yes, I am excited by the prospects of finding life elsewhere beyond Earth. Each time I read such a post about a new effort to find life, a new discovery that life can exist in ways we did not imagine before, or when we find a new planet in the Goldilocks zone, I also find hope.
Hope that perhaps we’ll realize just how insignificant our squabbles here on earth are. Humanity should demonstrate how special we are. We’ll strive to that end. And when that day comes to make first contact, we can show the aliens that we are on our way to be as enlightened as anyone else can be in the universe.
Of course, we still have to find life, right? Lots of hard work yet to be competed and scientific breakthroughs to be made. So, in the next 20 years, how are you doing to react when we are told of life beyond Earth? Will it be the same if we are told that Mars once held life millions of years ago or would you rather be told that the moons of our exoplanets has vibrant ecosystems with thousands of species of microbes?