Is There Anyone Out There and Does It Matter?

Comments Off on Is There Anyone Out There and Does It Matter?
Is There Anyone Out There and Does It Matter?

Residents of the OECD who grew up with a steady diet of Star Trek and Stars Wars intellectually acknowledge that these are just contemporary fantasy. They recognize that Klingons and Jedi Knights are no more “real” than Hobbits and Orcs. And just as research on the paranormal is marginalized and privately funded, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (or SETI) operates mostly at the fringes of mainstream science.

On the other hand, well-funded astrobiologists tirelessly search for any sort of life that may lie beyond Earth. And the imaginations and wishes of billions of people around the world are used to justify space research which is not of immediate commercial or defense value. This seems like a small price to pay to satisfy the basic human need to explore the unknown.

But it also makes a hard-nosed researcher ask: What are the real prospects of humans finding evidence of life in the universe? What is the likelihood that any life discovered will be discernably intelligent? And does it matter?

Here’s what we know.

Life resides on the planet Earth. Everything else we know about life in the universe is speculation. We’ve never received a signal, recovered a sample, or generated an image that conclusively indicates that life has existed anywhere, at any time beyond the Earth.

The empirical evidence we do have indicates that intelligent life, in the form of human beings, has been able to survive and thrive on the planet Earth for the past 40,000-to-100,000 years only because over 1000 crucial and largely independent parameters converged on precisely the right values at the right times and places in the history of the universe to make it possible. These parameters prescribe the characteristics of the universe, our specific galaxy, our specific solar system, and the planet Earth, itself. These parameters are a function of the specific history of the universe as well as myriad events in Earth’s history, including the sequence of life-forms that have existed on Earth. Given the vast number of events and results involved, it is statistically impossible that they would come together anywhere else in the universe at any time in its history. And it’s far less likely that these coincidences would occur within a hundred light-years of Earth within millions of years of our present time. That means that we’ll not be able to interact with life forms, even if they exist.

The facts as we know them to lead most objective analysts to conclude:

  1. No extraterrestrial life of any type will ever be detectable by humans;
  2. Any life that might exist lies outside of space and time frames accessible to humans; and
  3. Any life that might exist anywhere in this galaxy almost certainly resembles the single-celled organisms that dominated our planet for over 80% of its history...

    To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
    Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund