Is there life anywhere in the universe other than Earth, and if it is, how it remains the biggest question for scientists so far?
This year, the US government declassified a report related to Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), which said that so far no evidence of aliens has been found on Earth. Although the possibility of aliens being there has not been ruled out in the report.
For the past several decades, scientists are constantly trying to find the answer to this question. Now he is about to start the search for life in a constellation named Alpha Centauri, about four light-years away from Earth.
But the question is, will they be able to find the aliens? And is there life anywhere away from Earth?
How did the question arise whether there are aliens or not?
Natalie Haynes is a writer and is interested in science fiction. She tells that two thousand years ago, when there was neither a space observatory nor a spacecraft was conceived, at that time a Greek writer named Lucians has mentioned life away from Earth in his book.
She says, “In his book ‘A True History, Lucian writes the story of some such travelers who reached the moon after getting trapped in a tornado. This journey took them seven days, whereas nowadays to reach the moon by rocket. It takes about half the time for me. There is a fierce battle going on between the King of the Moon and the Emperor of the Sun, and they have strange-looking armies.”
Lucians in his storybook mentions fleas on the moon as large as winged horses, giant vultures, and twelve elephants. He has written about strange people who were different from the humans of the earth, which would not be wrong to call aliens. About eight hundred years later, in the tenth century, another famous science fiction story ‘The Bamboo Cutter’s Daughter’ was written in Japan.
In this story, a person cutting bamboo saw a bright light inside the bamboo one day. He found a small and lovely girl there, whom he brought home with him and raised him like his own daughter. Later the girl told me that she is from the moon.
But there is a similarity in all the stories that in the stories in which aliens are mentioned, the moon is also mentioned in them. According to Natalie, “It has been revealed that for a long time the moon has been written about because the moon is visible from Earth but Venus or Mars is not visible.”
But soon Mars also became a topic of discussion on Earth. In the 1870s, an Italian astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli observed Mars with a telescope and wrote about it in detail. He had the world’s most expensive and powerful telescope at that time. He saw ridges like drains on the surface of Mars, which he called Kanali. People thought they were talking about canals. At that time the work on the Suez Canal was completed. After this, the assumption started that the people living on Mars had dug canals there which are bigger than the Suez Canal and also cultivated there.
In 1881, a fictional story of Mars attacking Earth appeared in a magazine called London Truth. This story became very popular among the readers and it was translated into many languages of the world. A few years later, a Polish priest wrote a book titled ‘Elleriel – A Voyage to Other Worlds’, in which he talked about nine feet tall vegetarians living on Mars. For the first time, he used the word Martian for them.
After this, many people made claims like seeing a ray of bright light from Mars.
During this period, the theatrical adaptation of HG Wells’ book ‘The War of the Worlds’ was broadcast on the radio. Orson Welles narrated this story in the form of a news bulletin series in such a way that the listeners thought that the Martians had attacked the earth. Along with the progress of science, films were made on books and stories, which strengthened the desire of young scientists to know about aliens.
search for life on other planets
In the 1960s, a young scientist, Frank Drake, suggested that radio technology developed during World War I could be used to send signals from one solar system to another and that aliens might be doing the same. be. In such a situation, to find their existence, we just have to catch their signal.
Seth Shostack is a senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). For the last four decades, they are constantly trying to listen to similar signals of aliens.
He says, “Frank turned the current radio antenna at the Observatory in West Virginia to the nearest stars. He attempted to catch if the aliens were sending signals. He was tracking two stars. One They didn’t get any signal from the star but the funny thing was that some sound was heard from the other star. They thought they had found the aliens. And caught their signal though it could have been an army plane.”
Soon scientists all over the world were looking for aliens. In the 1980s, the US government began funding the SETI Institute to search for aliens.
By 1990 this also became possible and such computers were made which could listen to millions of frequencies simultaneously. Astronomers at Ohio University were looking at radio telescope data and found signals of extremely high intensity and frequency. They thought it was a signal of aliens.
Seth explains, “He was very happy that he wrote ‘Wow’ near the data. But we don’t know what he found. Many other people also searched in the same part of the sky, but they never found anything like this. I had two possibilities, either they were aliens or there was a sound of something on Earth itself.”
For many people, this was the best example of the signal of aliens. But even after years of searching in the true sense, no concrete sign could be found about the aliens. The question arose that how far is it right for governments to spend billions on such projects, which do not yield any result. In the early 1990s, the government aid to the SETI Institute stopped. But this was not the end of the search for aliens.
David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. He has been an advisor to NASA on space research. He says that confidence in the discovery of aliens also decreased because till that time more planets could not be discovered. But since the early 90s, scientists discovered new minor planets and dwarf planets in our solar system.
And once again the question arose whether there could be such planets outside our solar system where there is life. In March 2009, NASA launched the Kepler spacecraft. It had an observatory with a telescope whose purpose was to find life outside Earth.
David says, “Kepler was a clever idea. It was such that you put him in such a place away from Earth from where he can keep an eye on the whole space.” Kepler kept an eye on the stars for many years. His job was to see whether the light coming from a star changed or not.
He explains, “If there is a change in the light, then it means that something is passing between us and that star, it may be a planet. If there is a pattern in the twinkling of a star, then it is known that something has revolved around it.” has been.”
Kepler hoped to find some planets, but in its nine years, it found 2,600 planets outside our solar system. In 2013, scientists estimated that according to this there could be billions of such planets in our galaxy.
But how many of these could have the potential for life?
DeWitt says, “This is a rough estimate because we do not know under what conditions life flourishes. We have only the example of Earth before us. But we can assume that if there is a planet the size of Earth If it is in a particular climate zone, then there can be a possibility of life. According to this, it can be said that there can be at least 300 million such planets in our galaxy.
According to David Grinspoon, this discovery was the revolution that changed the thinking of scientists about the possibility of life outside the earth.
He says, “Most astronomers or scientists will say that they believe that there will be life on some other planet. Till now nothing special has been known about Earth to say that life could have flourished only here. “
Meanwhile, some such creatures like extremophiles have been discovered on earth, which proves that life can flourish even in very difficult conditions. Scientists are confident that these tiny creatures that have been the basis for the beginning of life are spread throughout the universe. This discovery has once again increased interest in the search for aliens.
What will we do if aliens meet?
Steven Dick is an astronomer and historian of science. He has been a prominent historian at NASA. The International Astronomical Union has named a planet 6544 Stevendic after him. Like other astronomers, Steven too is convinced that there is life beyond Earth. But they are worried about what will happen after they come to know about it.
He says, “As much as I know, neither the US government nor anyone else has any plans for what will be the effect if aliens are found somewhere.” Steven Dick has been a part of the NASA-sponsored Alien Life Preparation Program for many years. They say that there are some rules regarding the things coming from other planets, but they are not made for long.
They say that we still do not know how those we are looking for are and what will be their reaction by meeting us? He says, “We can’t assume that aliens will be good. Even at the microbe level, it is possible that bacteria from another planet can spread infection here. We do not know that the world of aliens has philanthropy. Whether it is a theory or not, will his attitude towards humans be right?
what if aliens are found somewhere?
But could it also be that the aliens we are looking for us come to Earth to meet us? And the bigger question is, how will we talk to the aliens? Steven says, “This is a matter of serious discussion. I think this thing is shown better in the film Arrival. In this, some aliens try to talk to humans. You need a language that can be spoken throughout the universe.” Understand.
Apart from this, many other questions can cause trouble, like will we see them in the realm of religion? How shall we treat them? And then who will talk to them on behalf of the world – United Nations or anyone else. No one has the answer to these questions yet. Steven Dick says that we need to bring together astronomers, philosophers, biologists, and politicians to discuss this. He says, “I think we should have a plan, we don’t know what to do but it would be better if we thought about it in advance.”
are there really aliens?
We know that till now we have not found any concrete evidence about life on other planets. Even after decades of searching, in this matter, we are still where we left from. But it can also be seen from a different point of view. It is a question of probability. There are millions of galaxies in the universe, one of which is our Milky Way, and our galaxy also has billions of planets.
It is possible that Earth will not be the only planet where life has flourished. There may be life on some other planet as well and it may be similar to ours. Maybe someday we can find aliens or maybe they will find us first.