How Life Can Exist Beyond Our Own

It is simply ignorant and close minded to think that life out in the universe does not exist and that we are the only living organisms in this ever expanding universe. Think of the Virgo Supercluster — or any cosmic supercluster, a group of tens and thousands to trillions of galaxies. Is it too crazy to say that there are at least a few — if not tens of thousands of civilizations in those very galaxies? The answer is no, thanks to the Drake equation which uses mathematics to theorize that there are thousands of civilizations beyond our own.

Laniakea Supercluster consisting of billions and billions of galaxies.

It’s common to think that alien life must have water, oxygen, and carbon (carbon based life forms such as our very own) to be able to exist. There are many organisms that live on this Earth that adapt to its environment. These organisms are tiny bacteria or multi-cellular organisms that reproduce without, or, an absence of oxygen. Think of tardigrades, a small microorganism that resembles that of a bear or, well… an eight-legged pig. These organisms do not need light, air, or the warmth that humans generally need. One experiment showed that tardigrades can survive exposure in the vacuum of space, which a human would normally not survive. This little specimen proves that life beyond our own does not truly need oxygen, water, or carbon to just exist. What’s to say that these so called “extra-terrestrials” thrive off of methane, drink fire, or are intelligent sea-dwelling creatures that live deep in their ocean of liquid mercury? Alien life does not have to resemble that of a bipedal humanoid; alien life could simply be micro-organisms, tiny bacteria, or they could simply be single-celled organisms made of inorganic material. Alien life could mean a multitude of things — that they can be intelligent, pre-historic, dead but have proof of their existence, micro-organisms, single-celled, exactly like us, or — bear with me — that we simply cannot see them because they exist in another dimension or because they’re not visible to the naked eye. There is no doubt in my mind that they are out there and one day, we’ll stumble upon them accidentally or on purpose. More recently, we discovered that Venus has phosphine in its atmosphere. Phosphine is mainly a compound that only life on Earth should be able to produce, or at least organic in the sense. Interestingly, we discovered not just small traces of the compound in our neighborly planet’s atmosphere, but we found a lot of it. This could be produced by something we just have no clue or explanation of, but I believe this is just basically saying we may or may NOT have found evidence of alien life, but it’s really close.

Rendering of a tardigrade, New Scientist.

Many people seem to believe that the existence of aliens, or extraterrestrials, cannot exist simply because there’s just not enough sufficient evidence to prove their existence and because extraterrestrials seem to have never visited Earth. I’m no conspiracy theorist with a big tin-foil hat and I’m not saying they have or have not visited, but the story of the tic tac UFO is probably one of the most convincing UFO story to date — in which you’ll have to listen to the 30 minute account of the story yourself. I’m not saying the UFO is of extraterrestrial origins, but we just have no proof of what it is, where it came from, and its qualities.

Many people do not realize the scope of the universe — that it is still expanding rapidly even after the theorized Big Bang and that there are tens of thousands and, maybe even millions of habitable planets beyond our solar system (discovered by the Kepler Spacecraft). It is important to acknowledge that humans simply cannot be the only living organism in this almost infinite universe. Somewhere out there, aliens — whether they’re intelligent extraterrestrials or not — exist simply because of the size of our universe, the number of habitable planets that have been discovered, and the simple mathematics behind their existence.

Life exists because mathematically, it is very likely that humans aren’t the only lifeforms. The Drake Equation is a mathematical formula — or theoretical formula — that proposes the number of intelligent extraterrestrials and civilizations beyond the solar system and in the Milky Way galaxy. In the article “Anthropology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” Steven J. Dick states that “the ‘Drake Equation’ was proposed as a way of estimating the number of communicative civilizations in our Milky Way.”

The Drake Equation is simply: N = Ns · fp · ne · fl · fi · fc · fL, which basically formulates the number of planets that are suitable for life, the number of stars that can sustain life, and the number of civilizations with technology that can emit detectable signals (such as a radio or satellite signal). The universe is big (essentially infinite) and our local galaxy — the Milky Way — is mind bogglingly gigantic with a radius of 52,000 light years — that’s a lot in freedom units. Even at that size, the Milky Way is actually one of the smaller galaxies. Galaxies are a collection of stars, solar systems, planets, asteroids, comets, black holes, neutron stars (collapsed stars) and so forth. An average galaxy is a thousand to a hundred thousand light years across; a light year means that it would take a beam of light to reach one end of the galaxy to the other in a few centuries or millenniums — depending on the size of the galaxy. Light is fast, 186,282 miles per second exactly, but imagine light crossing a galaxy and reaching the end in roughly thousands of years — this puts a perspective on the distance and size of a galaxy. The Drake Equation only formulates and proposes the number of communicative extraterrestrials in the local galaxy, the Milky Way; now that you know the true distance and size of a galaxy, you can simply say that there could be hundreds, if not thousands of extraterrestrial life in our own backyard and beyond. The equation still proves that there are thousands of habitable planets that lay within the goldilocks zone (like the Earth) that can potentially harbor alien life. Again, however; life does not need to be in the goldilocks zone, that’s just a basis for life to exist rather than harsh environments. The Earth is composed of the same elements found elsewhere in space; habitable planets are very likely to share the same elements that are composed of what is known on Earth. Carbon based alien life would fundamentally be our distant relative, considering they’re made of the same stuff we’re made of.

Our beautiful neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy

The Kepler Space Program — and the Spacecraft — has identified many potential habitable planets in our galaxy that are suitable for life (humans) and potentially for extraterrestrials. Many planets found by Kepler have been a potential candidate for life — or habitable; as said in, “Other Earths and Life in the Universe,” Geoffrey Marcy writes, “As of January 2011 more than 400 exoplanets have been discovered. But in February 2011 the NASA Kepler team announced more than 800 strong candidate planets.” Habitable planet means that it is habitable for humans — that it is suitable for humans to live, breathe, and possibly eat. However, the ‘habitable planets’ do not account for potential extraterrestrial life-forms. That is, that maybe these life-forms do not need the same elements of ‘life’ as we know it. Maybe these life-forms/extraterrestrials do not need oxygen to survive, water, or even food for energy as we’ve stated before. One could assume that the life-forms on these potential ‘habitable planets’ could breathe methane or breathe sulfur dioxide to use as energy. The possibilities are endless — depending on how these life-forms may have adapted and evolved on a potentially habitable planet. Even though Kepler may have found these potentially ‘habitable planets’ does not mean that non-habitable planets cannot support other lifeforms/extraterrestrials; non-habitable planets just means that it cannot support the life of a human, not explicitly an extraterrestrial.

Earth has its own alien-like creatures that have adapted to such extreme and bizarre environments which proves the point that extraterrestrials may not need the same conditions as humans do to exist. For example, creatures like the giant squid, fangtooth fish, and the deep-sea angler all have one thing in common — they all live in the deepest and darkest depths of the ocean that have pressures crushing humans in an instant.

These creatures are able to live in these harsh, almost alien-like environments. In fact, the depths that these creatures live in are so deep that even light can never reach it. Again, this is great proof that extraterrestrials can live on non-habitable planets. A great point is that maybe these extraterrestrials may find that Earth is not even habitable for them; maybe Earth is too harsh of an environment for these life-forms — it can go both ways, like how in War of the Worlds, the aliens all succumbed to an Earth based bacteria during their invasion of Earth.

Many people wonder: if extraterrestrials do really exist out there in the cosmos, then how come humans have not seen them and how come there’s basically no evidence of their existence? This leaves a problem that Steven J. Dick argues, “Anthropology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” where the author writes, “the idea that if the galaxy was full of intelligence, given the billion-year timescales involved, any long-lived advanced intelligence should have colonized the galaxy and should have arrived on Earth by now — yet we do not see them.” The problem with the existence of intergalactic intelligent extraterrestrials is that if their technology is so advanced, how come they haven’t visited Earth? Advanced civilizations would need many resources… which means that extraterrestrials would need to traverse across the galaxy to harvest resources off planets, asteroids, comets, moons, and the energy from many stars, like Dyson spheres/swarms. Maybe life is so rare that humans really are the only organisms that exist in the known universe. This is known as Fermi’s Paradox — a question that simply asks; where are all the alien civilizations if the Drake Equation formulates that there are hundreds, if not thousands of alien civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy? No credible person would ever say, “Yes, aliens do exist and they have obviously visited Earth because they simply can,” because there is no significant evidence of their existence. If they have visited us puny humans, then our own civilization would have known about their existence thousands of years ago and there would be no argument about the existence of extraterrestrials whatsoever. But that is simply not the case, humans will forever stay divided about the existence of alien life until an alien life contacts Earth or we discover them. Personally, I’d rather live in that timeline than this where we have no clue whether aliens exist or not.

To counteract Fermi’s Paradox, one must examine the Fermi Paradox in detail. In Fermi’s Paradox, it states that; if there are alien civilizations in our galaxy, how come they haven’t reached or contacted Earth? The simple solution to that paradox is another theory — The Great Filter. The Great Filter is a theory which proposes that if a technological civilization gets too advanced, then that civilization will get wiped out; a civilization getting wiped out means that war, natural disasters (volcanoes, tsunamis, asteroids), artificial intelligence, and so forth will prohibit an extraterrestrial civilization to be able to contact Earth. Life beyond in the unknown is inevitable; the universe should be teeming with life and, humans are the first examples of life and destruction. Another great way to solve Fermi’s Paradox is that these extraterrestrial civilizations have not reached the capacity to traverse the cosmos. What if these extraterrestrial civilizations are currently in their own ancient times — that these lifeforms are barely starting in their journey to traverse the cosmos? These civilizations must have technological limitations to travel through the Milky Way and as stated above, the Milky Way is hundreds of thousands of light years across. Traversing through the Milky Way can take thousands of years even at the speed of light. Maybe these life-forms are literally just micro-organisms, little bacteria, simple organisms, or single-celled life-forms; life can be viewed differently for many people, depending on what one defines life as — a tree, flowers, humans, cells, AI, and so forth. Another proposition that can solve Fermi’s Paradox is that extraterrestrials are simply just dead — that they’re long gone, but have existed hundreds to tens of thousands of years ago. Even looking up at the sky and seeing red-shifted celestial objects, or stars that have been long gone, it’s just simply because light travels so long against the expansive universe and time. This could be the sad reality, but it can also be said that aliens have existed, but simply died out long ago. It’s easy to imagine another civilization out in the cosmos, especially since the size of an average galaxy (thousands of light years across) multiplied to hundreds and thousands of times to form the universe which is a collection of galaxies, stars, planets, asteroids, comets, molecules, atoms, etc.

In regards to the Drake Equation, the Kepler Space Program and many other scientific papers, explanations, theories, and even paradoxes — have all helped prove that out there, in the expansive and almost infinite universe, extraterrestrials exist (humans, for example). Mathematically, at least one other civilization or one other extraterrestrial organism must exist; the building blocks of life came from space, meaning that humans are literally descendants of the cosmos and that these building blocks of life exists everywhere else in the universe. The goal is to reach for the cosmos; maybe it’s our time to contact extraterrestrials, “Mankind is headed for the stars. That is our credo. Our descendants will one day live throughout the solar system and eventually seek to colonize other star systems and possibly interstellar space itself. Immense problems — technical, economic, political and social — must be solved for human life to spread through space.” One must realize that if humanity were to contact an intelligent extraterrestrial, then our fundamental understanding of life and how life evolves/adapts will be changed forever — expanded and enlightened. Our view of the world would significantly and fundamentally change, or it might not and people will make memes about the discovery of alien life. It’s crucial to believe that alien life, whether intelligent or not, exists, because solving the argument about whether they do exist or not will most notably shift our understanding about life and how to correctly (and cautiously) approach these extraterrestrials. Once humans contact extraterrestrials, the question that many people ask — “Are we alone?” –will finally be answered.

Student in IT specializing in cybersecurity. Musical nerd and graphic design nerd.

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