Published: 5:31 AM 6/9/2014
By Terry Mejdrich
Recently Congress and NASA provided dedicated funding for the continued search for extraterrestrial life, and particularly extraterrestrial intelligent life.
This continues research established decades ago. There are concerns that this is a waste of taxpayer dollars since to date no solid evidence of advanced alien life has been detected. Yet we are driven to search for ‘others’ and answer the question: Are we alone?
It seems inconceivable that with the billions upon billions of possible alien worlds, life would only arise on earth. Yet earth is the only place life is known to exist. So what about the thousands of UFO sightings that are quite often made by highly credible witnesses? Even though nearly all of these incidents can be explained by hoax or natural events, there remains a few that defy explanation.
However, the lack of a natural explanation does not automatically leave alien invaders as the default explanation. No alien has ever announced its presence or made an appearance on the evening news, ‘pop’ stars not included.
Scientists such as Neil Degrasse Tyson have pointed out that when the possibility of aliens on the planet Jupiter in our own solar system reached the level of serious discussion among scientists a few centuries ago, the scientists of the time envisioned these beings as sailing in wind-driven ships on vast oceans and even growing hemp since ships needed rope and rope was made from hemp.
This reasoning seems rather silly now, but at that time scientists were constrained by their own level of technology. So one must wonder if today, when we think of aliens as flying around in space ships, that we, too, are erroneously projecting our own level of technology on hypothetical extraterrestrial beings.
If we assume that advanced alien life is DNA based (an assumption not in any way supported by known facts but at least a place to begin a discussion), then we might first compare the human genetic ‘blue print’ with that of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. Put side by side, the genetic codes for humans and chimps are almost indistinguishable, with less than a one percent difference. Still that tiny difference in genetic instructions has resulted in vast differences in intelligence.
When we categorize chimps, we may rate them as intelligent compared to other animals, but not compared to humans. Now suppose on another world revolving around a distant star there evolved a species that was nearly like us with only a less than one percent ‘smarter’ advantage in their DNA. Would they, upon observing humans, find us about as intelligent as we view chimps?
Given the vast age of the Universe, alien life forms could be so far ‘ahead’ of us that to them we don’t even register as intelligent or significant.
It is very likely that if there is an advanced alien species that has found earth interesting enough to warrant scrutiny, they are already here in some form. They likely didn’t come in wind-driven sailing ships or even space ships but by some other means totally unknown to us. They likely don’t communicate using ‘primitive’ radio waves.
They probably don’t have to even be here physically and can monitor earth from afar with technology that we would consider magic or of a supreme being, i.e. miraculous. If their intent were hostile, we would stand as much chance against them as a group of chimps would against a nuclear attack.
The weird and bizarre imaginative science fictional view of aliens has one major flaw: It is not weird and bizarre enough. Our insights and imaginations are framed around what we know and where we are in our culture and knowledge base. We are, therefore, limited in our insightful ability by our level of intelligence, our limited knowledge of the Universe, and our DNA blueprint.
So the reason the funding for the continued search for extraterrestrial life is worthwhile has more to do with expanding what we are capable of doing and learning and less to do with making contact with ET.
Email Terry Mejdrich at firstname.lastname@example.org.