UFO’s And Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life
The question “Are We Alone in the Universe?” has been brought up and speculated on for thousands of years. My answer to the above question is I don’t know. I will not try to give you answers in this essay, because as of now nobody knows the answer. I will merely speculate on this subject based on the information we obtain at present.
The question of UFO’s and intelligent life on other planets has become very popular. UFOs stand for Unidentified Flying Objects, which are any object in the sky that the viewer cannot recognize. Many scientists believe that we cannot be alone in the universe. There have been many unreported sightings of UFO’s. Many of them however are found to be hoaxed or misperceptions. However among the thousands and thousands of sightings surely some of them have to be genuine. Some researchers believe that there were UFO sightings in ancient times. The evidence however is highly speculative. The next significant reports came into existence during World War I and there were also reports during World War II. Many people point out that UFO’s do not and cannot exist and quote Physics and science to back them up. But we have to realize that we can only attempt to describe the universe in terms relative to things that we can measure. Just because UFO has not definitely been measured (as far as we officially know) does not prove they do not exist. John G. Fuller in the book UFO’s? Yes! says “I would point out that we have always been bombarded by certain wavelengths of radio as universal background noise from the edge of the universe. Until we discovered a way to generate and use radio for our own purposes, we had no way to know of it’s existence “out there”…Now that technology exists to “listen”, we can use that information to add to the description of the universe.” Who knows how many other means of describing the universe have yet to be discovered? Infinity is a very big place… and we see only a very narrow spectrum of such a small piece of it.
The prospect of discovering extraterrestrial life has fascinated humans for centuries. When we think of this possibility, we usually have in mind much more exciting then just finding life. We are looking for extraterrestrials with whom we can share ideas and stories. In other words what fascinates us the most is the opportunity to communicate with “intelligent civilizations”, which we may define as groups of beings with self-consciousness and with complex interactions between them, beings who can share their music, poetry, traditions and learning. Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen in the book The Search For Life in the Universe, state “The number of currently active civilizations in our galaxy approximately equals the lifetime of an average civilization with communications ability and desire, measured in years” . We can try to estimate the probability of life evolving on another planet, which should have the right conditions for the formation of life. We need to estimate the number of galaxies, the number of stars in an average galaxy, the number of stars that have planetary systems and the number of Earth like planets that are suitable for the formation of life. Some 100 billion galaxies are visible to modern telescopes and the total number in the universe must be even bigger, but lets stick to that. There are as many as hundreds of billions stars in an average galaxy, but once again let’s be conservative and call it 100 billion. So the total number of stars in the universe is roughly going to be 100 billion x 100 billion. At this point there are only 50 stars have been discovered that have planetary systems, but we have very little data to work with. Most cosmologists believe that planetary formation around a star is quiet common. Lets say that it’s not common and there is only one in a million planet in each system. This calculation will result in ten million, billion. Lets also assume that it is very rare among planets to be Earth like. Again only 1 in a million, and this is very conservative because we are assuming that only earth like planets are suitable for life. So by simply dividing we get ten billion. But for more scientific approach we can consider Drake’s equation. This equation basically states the number of communicating civilizations in our Galaxy, which depends on a number of factors which when combined yield a habitable planet where life can develop and grow to a certain level of technological advance. So, by his estimate the number of communicating civilizations in our Galaxy is 10,000.
There are up to 50 billion planets like earth in our own Milky Way galaxy. The chances that none of those planets support life are so slim that they can be basically discounted. Many of the stars that have been observed contain rock and iron rich material, which is connected to them by gravitational force of orbiting planets. This is another indication that life may be common in our galaxy. There are many planets like earth orbiting those stars and the probability that there is life similar to ours is greater then it was before we considered this evidence.
There are few conditions that are important when we are considering the possibility of life on other planets. Those include temperature, water and atmosphere. Also the planet has to be in a suitable habitable zone, which means that it has to be in small range distances from the star where temperature will be suitable, water may exist in liquid form and atmosphere will be retained.
The search for life in our solar system reached its highest peak with successful landing of the two Viking spacecrafts on mars in 1976. They contained materials to look for biological processes, photosynthesis and respiration. Although metabolism was found, they failed to detect any presence of organic molecules. This unfortunate discovery most likely means that mars does not support even low forms of life. Because we are not able to space travel yet, the only way to try to communicate with intelligent beings outside our solar system is through the radio telescopes. Those telescopes are able to detect radio signals sent out by intelligent life from other planets. Now it is important to decide which stars to listen to and at which frequencies.
Just a couple of years ago everybody believed that formation of life is such a rare even that we are almost certainly the only intelligent species in the universe. But with recent discovery of other planetary systems, the odds have shifted in favor of life. The existence of earth does not imply anything about the probability of life elsewhere, because if there was no life here, we would not be exist to observe it. But if life arose independently on some other planet, and since planetary systems are very common, then life should be abundant in the universe. And if that is the case, that means that intelligent life could be abundant in the universe as well.
Then why do so many scientists reject the idea of aliens visiting out planet? This is because according to our laws of physics, interstellar travel is simply impossible. However if we look back at 19th century, same thing was said about flying and nuclear warfare declared to be impossible just a few years before it became a reality. History always teaches us that if physics declares such and such to be undoable, a major revolution could be just around the corner.
Today we are faced with 2 such revolutions. The first one is Free Energy. Quantum physics tells us that vacuum is far from being empty; in fact it holds great amounts of energy, which is called zero point energy. Some physicists believe in that and working on this theory. Companies are looking for investors to develop and produce the invention, but they have big obstacles on their way. All the major investment companies are not very eager to help them, since this new technology can easily destroy whole industries. Once this or any other device of this sort will be made, the human civilization will be transformed instantly. This would also solve our great global problems that we are facing today. This will end the destruction of the environment by cars, airplanes and power plants. They will provide counties to develop energy, but without environmental and health penalties which many countries have paid and are still paying now. And even more important, this will give us the freedom of solar system.
As of now we are very limited on all of our space activities, and the reason for that is the lack of powerful energy sources. We are sitting on the surface of the earth and it takes enormous energy to get us out because of our gravity. If we are introduced with abundant energy, we will have the freedom to travel in the solar system. Even interstellar travel will become a practical reality, since travel at huge speeds will no longer be energy prohibited. Now, would those ships be prohibited by the speed of light? Some physicists believe that it is possible to make space-time itself. This means to surround the spaceship with local space time in such way that light barrier is not impaired in any way, while by looking from outside, the ship is moving at enormous speeds. NASA is taking this idea and others like it very seriously. They are working on a Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program. “Here are the 3 breakthroughs that we’ll need to enable practical interstellar travel:
1. Discover new propulsion methods that eliminate or dramatically reduce the need for propellant. This implies discovering fundamentally new ways to create motion, presumably by manipulating gravity or inertia or by manipulating any other interactions between matter and space-time.
2.Discover how to attain the ultimate achievable transit speeds to dramatically reduce deep space travel times. This implies discovering a means to move a vehicle at or near the actual maximum speed limit for motion through space or through the modification of space-time itself.
3.Discover fundamentally new on-board energy production methods to power propulsion devices. This third goal is included in the program since the first two goals could require breakthroughs in energy generation to power them and since the physics underlying the propulsion goals is closely linked to energy physics. “
To power the vehicle and its propulsion, some form of power generation is needed. If you seen Star Trek, you probably noticed that they were using Antimatter. This is real stuff and not just a science fiction. Antimatter is matter with its electrical charge reversed. Positrons are anti-electrons, which are like electrons but only with positive charge. Antiprotons are like protons but with a negative charge. Positrons, antiprotons and antiparticles can be created at labs and can even be trapped and stored for days or weeks at a time. Antimatter behaves the same way to gravity as does normal matter. It is very hard to make it right now because to create one milligram of antimatter right now, we would need about One Hundred Billion dollars. Even though one milligram is more then enough for research purposes, the amount would be needed for large-scale applications. It is necessary for the price to drop at least by some amount in order for it to be commercially viable.
The point here is for the highly advanced extraterrestrial culture, interstellar travel could be as easy as an intercontinental flight is for us. That’s why skeptics always back out with the following argument: if aliens exist, and interstellar travel is possible, why aren’t they visiting us? To understand and fully appreciate this question, we have to keep in mind the standard skeptical argument against the reality of UFO’s; “the laws of physics exclude the possibility of interstellar travel, even if extraterrestrials existed in the first place which is highly unlikely”. In other words, UFOs cannot be extraterrestrial because interstellar travel is impossible, and interstellar travel is impossible because otherwise there would be UFOs of extraterrestrial origin. Scientists should recognize the indirect nature of this argument, but often they don’t. The truth behind scientific discoveries has a complex psychology to it, and social factors like authority, majority opinion and prejudice play as much role as observation and mathematical deduction. In the Scientific American issue “The Future of Space Exploration”, Timothy Ferris, a science writer, makes a forceful case for interstellar exploration based on current technology. But then he writes,
“From the second clue – that aliens have not yet landed on the White House lawn – we can posit that our immediate celestial neighborhood is probably not home to a multitude of technologically advanced civilizations that spend their time boldly venturing to other star systems on board big, imposing spacecraft. If that was the case, they would have shown up already, as they evidently have not (I am, of course, discounting reports of UFO sightings and alien abductions, the evidence for which is unpersuasive.)”
The word “unpersuasive” shows that it is not logic and rationality that determines his conclusion, but a mindset. When people consider consistent UFO evidence, like sightings from qualified observers including highly trained military pilots and radar operators over the past 5 decades, it seems very bizarre how an educated person can simply omit that accumulated amount of evidence and call UFO as “unpersuasive”, unless the person is really unaware of the evidence.
Another example is the 1968 Condon Report, which was a scientific investigation of UFO sightings at the University of Colorado. It was commissioned by the United States Air Force. It investigated many cases, some of which were abstract. One case (investigation of a Greenwich, 1956 sighting), for example states:
“At least one UFO was tracked by air traffic control radar (GCA) at two USAF-RAF stations, with apparently corresponding visual sightings of round, white rapidly moving objects which changed directions abruptly. Interception by RAF fighter aircraft was attempted; one aircraft was vectored to the UFO by GCA radar and the pilot reported airborne radar contact and radar gunlock., The UFO appeared to circle around behind the aircraft and followed it in spite of the pilot’s evasive maneuvers. Contact was broken when the aircraft returned to base, low on fuel. The preponderance of evidence indicates the possibility of a genuine UFO in this case. The weather was generally clear with good visibility.”
Yet, after that UFO skeptic Condon, in his conclusions and recommendations, states that UFO phenomena is not an important field in which to look for major scientific discoveries. Such disregards for the actual facts are not science; they are nothing more then denial. And one more time just to illustrate the many intelligent people have come to different conclusions, here is a quote:”For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists and astronauts. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us. And there are thousands of witness reports and a quantity of documents to prove this, but nobody wants to make them public. Why? Because the authorities are afraid that people may think of some kind of horrible invaders. So the password still is: We have to avoid panic by all means.”
Letter from Senator Goldwater to Lee M. Graham, October 19, 1981
“To answer your questions, I have never gained access to the so-called ‘Blue Room’ at Wright Patterson, so I have no idea what is in it. I have no idea of who controls the flow of “need-to-know” because, frankly, I was told in such an emphatic way that it was none of my business that I’ve never tried to make it my business since. I wish you luck on your investigation. I’m one of those people who believe that with some two billion planets scattered around our universe, there has to be a couple of more that can support life on it.”
As we look at incredibly high numbers of planets suitable for the formation of life I think it is extremely unlikely that our planet is the only one where life has evolved. It may be significant to ask why we have not met it yet, or at least heard from it. Maybe there has not yet been enough time or maybe we are using wrong technology. Teams are searching skies for many years looking for a radio signal from an alien source, but so far with no success. Radio signals do seem a logical way to send messages over big astronomical distances, but an alien society with a lot more advantage in technology could be using something very different. With thousands years advantage, they may have technology beyond our comprehension It is possible that when they had radio signals, if they ever used them, we had no radio receivers and their information could not reach us.
1.Harkins, Roger. UFOs? Yes!, The World Publishing Company, New York 1969
2.Goldsmith, Donald. The search for life in the universe, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc 1993