Date
20 September 2017
There are about 4.4 billion planets out there that are similar to Earth in size and temperature, and therefore, may be able to host life. Photo: AFP
There are about 4.4 billion planets out there that are similar to Earth in size and temperature, and therefore, may be able to host life. Photo: AFP

Is there life out there? It’s bizarre if there’s none

It’s called “Fermi’s Paradox”. It’s based on arguments laid out by the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi.

Simply, it states that in the vastness of the universe, there is an extremely high probability that extraterrestial civilizations exist, but up to now, humans still have yet to make contact with one.

Consider this: there are more than 80 billion galaxies in the known universe, and each galaxy has billions of stars and each star, like our Sun, has its own set of planets. Recent astronomical observations, using the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kepler Space Telescope and other powerful computer-aided instruments, show that there are about 4.4 billion planets out there that are similar to Earth in size and temperature, and therefore, may be able to host life.

On Wednesday, two top astronomers testified before the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to support continued funding for scientific programs seeking extraterrestial life, ABC News reports.

“It would be bizarre if we are alone,” Dan Werthimer, director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, told the lawmakers. (SETI is acronym for “search for extraterrestial intelligence”.)

In fact, he believes that the possibility of microbial life on other planets is about 100 percent.

“If you extrapolate on the planets they discovered, there are a trillion planets in the galaxy. That’s a lot of places for life,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. He estimates that one in five of these planets has similar conditions as those on Earth.

“It would be a cramped mind that didn’t wonder what other life is out there,” Werthimer said.

The two believe there are different stages of life in the universe, from microbial to advanced civilizations.

But contrary to confessions by those who claim they have been abducted by aliens, the SETI astronomers say we have had no contacts, much less visits, from extraterrestial beings so far.

“I don’t think that that would be something all the governments would have managed to keep a secret,” Shostak said. “If they were really here I think everyone would know that.”

Werthimer says he’s not calling for the world’s scientific community to go out of its way to reach out to ETs. “My feeling is that we should just be listening.”

In 2008, NASA beamed “Across the Universe” by the Beatles into space. Since it was aimed at the North Star, which is 431 light years away, we might not get to know if aliens like the song, Shostak joked.

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RA/CG

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