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Alien life and Common human misconceptions


K Baruah explores here the possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe and scrutinizes the views held by the human beings about the aliens

A lot has been debated on the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Specific missions have been carried out; some are ongoing, and more are proposed to come in the future. However the way in which we humans have approached this subject is quite controversial. It seems that even Albert Einstein was aware of this drawback in human nature to look at something radically different in his or hers own earthly perspective. That is why he has said that “the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” If we were to analyze our search for extraterrestrial life, keeping in mind Einstein’s comment, then we would find some new exceptional thoughts evolving out of this subject.

The general belief is that there can be no life without air and water. Just for a moment if we were to assume that a form of life evolved from Nitrogen and Methane then simple logic will show that it would not be mandatory for that particular organism to be dependent on air and water. Nitrogen and Methane are the only substances that are abundant in the universe. On ocean bottoms on earth there is a kind of ice, primarily consisting of Methane. This type of ice forms naturally at high pressures and low temperatures in typical sea floor environments. In the Gulf of Mexico, one of the few places where such ice hydrates can be found, scientists have found that such Methane ice masses were flourishing with creatures like worms. (Reported by Penn State). So it is evident that there is a form of life that can exist on Methane.

The necessity of having an atmosphere is also a vital consideration. We feel that this is a must for life but some recent discoveries on Earth have proved that this is just a notion that we have. To illustrate this point we have to take into account some living microbes, which feed on iron ore and scientists have discovered them in Antarctica, in a puddle of sea water trapped between layers of ice. This ice is packed with microbes that have mysteriously come into existence without light or oxygen.

It is believed that the atmosphere protects us from harmful radiation. Radiation can tear up human DNA into fragments. If this is so then how could life exist on another planet without a protective atmosphere? In reality a specially evolved, local environment-basic life form could exist under high radiation. This has been proved even on Earth where scientists have discovered bacteria named D. Radiodurans which have the capability to absorb radiation up to a thousand times more than humans and these types of bacteria have the ability to survive because they are quite adept in re-bonding DNA fragmented by high radiation.

We are most awestruck by the thought of discovering a being like us which we call alien. An alien being need not have arms and limbs like us humans. It need not have eyes or ears or nose. A being could exist in the form of a gaseous bubble or a ball of concentrated energy. Now that laboratory experiments on earth have shown that if light energy can be converted into matter then why couldn’t a form of energy exist as an alien being which could assume a weird shape of matter sometimes when it is necessary for the being in its basic life-cycle.

There is nothing there in space. Is this in fact a reality? In 2007 scientists sent some sea creatures into space called Tardigrades on a spacecraft named FOTON-M3. These were eight legged caterpillar like creatures which live on the ocean floor. These creatures are smaller than a mustard seed (1.5 mm) and live in sea floor sediments. It was found that these creatures could easily withstand the vacuum of space and the intense radiation present there. If an alien life form like that of the Tardigrades exists on another planet then it is not going to be easy to locate them with our currently available space technology.

Moreover when we talk of communicating with the aliens, men have been sending radio signals in search for other intelligent life in our universe. Various methodologies have been used but so far the results have been negative. What is important to understand here is that if there are other intelligent beings are they using radio waves or not? Suppose they used light waves for communication instead? And if as most believe that extraterrestrial life may be far more advanced than us, what about communicable energy waves of a different kind? If you go onto thinking more on the subject – are we capable of receiving their signals? Or do we have that kind of technology? It has been recently discovered that dolphins and whales have a communication pattern of their own. Can we humans ever understand what this communication is?

Finally for the real truth. Suppose alien life form exists as an image? We see things because the light reflects off the object into our eyes. Supposedly light did not reflect off an alien being then what would be the implications?


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