The sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was released in A.D. 1951. Michael Rennie starred as Klaatu, an extra-terrestrial who comes to Earth, and gets shot and killed by some earthly idiots. His invulnerable robot Gort attempts to even the score by destroying scores of tanks, aircraft and US soldiers. Gort eventually takes Klaatu’s body into the space ship and flies off to their distant home planet.
After Klaatu and Gort leave, the nations and armies of the world (which had previously been fighting endlessly among themselves), unite to prepare for another possible attack by Gort et al.
The point to the story is that the proven existence of extra-terrestrials could cause an enormous change in mankind’s system of values.
Similarly, what kind of change in mankind’s current system of values might be expected if evidence accumulated that extra-terrestrials did not exist?
To know that there are other intelligent civilizations on alien planets would push our system of values in one direction.
Similarly, to know that there are not other intelligent civilizations on distant alien planets would just as surely push our values in the opposite direction.
• It’s hard to say how many sci-fi movies I’ve seen over the years that were based on one scientist’s discovery of radio communication emanating from an alien planet. Six? Eight? That story line reappears every to five to ten years.
The prevalence of those story-lines is based on the mathematics of outer-space. Math indicates that there are trillions and trillions of inhabitable planets in the universe. If just 0.1% of those trillions supported life, we should have millions of planets with civilizations sufficiently advanced to at least generate radio waves. We should be able to detect some of those radio waves. Advanced civilizations on alien planets within 100 light-years of earth should be able to detect our radio waves.
We’ve been sending radio signals into space for decades and getting no reply. For decades, we’ve searched for evidence of radio waves/messages emanating from alien civilizations and (except in our sci-fi movies) found nothing.
• Which brings us to the “Fermi Paradox”: Where are all the aliens?
Statistically, there should be millions of advanced civilizations. But we haven’t found radio evidence of even one.
One very strange implication: Contrary to our statistical expectations, we might be the only “advanced” civilization in our galaxy or even the universe. As advanced species go, we might be alone.
That’s not my observation. Scientists are beginning to consider that possibility.
• If we are alone, what’s that say about the “Big Bang Theory”?
Written by Alfred Adask
Read more at Adask’s Law
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