Are we alone in the universe? This question has occupied our imagination for more than one hundred years. Is our planet the only miracle and home for living organisms among all other planets and galaxies? Many scientists believe that the discovery of alien life is a matter of time.
“We will find life in space during this century“, confidently said Dr. Seth Shostak, the head of the research project SETI , speaking at the meeting of the European Commission considering innovative development.
“There are more than 150 billion galaxies in the space, which are somehow different from our own. Each of these galaxies contains tens of billions of Earth-like planets. That’s why the belief that the Earth is the only place in the universe that hosts life is nothing short of a miracle. 500 years of astronomical research led us to understanding that if you believe in miracles, you are most likely wrong.”
Let’s assume that there is life on other planets in space indeed. In what form does it exist and how can we detect it? Dr Shostak believes that the answer to this question may be found within the next 25 years. It will be either found in the microbial form in own neighborhood within the solar system, on Mars or one of Jupiter’s moons, or will find evidence of extraterrestrial life in the form of gases produced by living organisms in the atmospheres of exoplanets; or Dr. Szostak and his team at SETI will finally catch a radio signal transmitted by intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Astrophysicist at Oxford University Dr Suzanne Aigrain, who studies various planets outside the solar system, believes that the discovery of extraterrestrial life is more likely to happen according the second option, that is, by detecting metabolic products of living organisms. Speaking at the meeting, she expressed her confidence that humans are not alone in this world.
“We are very close to getting to the point when it can be said with certainty that universe contains a giant number of Earth-like planets. Inhabited planets. That’s why when someone asks whether there is life on other planets, I always take the side of someone who believes that it does exist, because the probability is really high.”
Dr. Aigrain and her scientific team uses electromagnetic radiation (light) as the primary tool for finding planets rotating around other suns. Planets may be considered as potentially habitable if their size corresponds to the size the Earth and their surface temperature is suitable for keeping water in liquid form. Aigrain and her colleagues believe that such kind of planets is the one that may contain “biomarkers”, that is, traces of gases in the atmosphere which could be a product of life of biological creatures.
In turn, Dr. Shostak and SETI are looking for evidence of the existence of life in the universe by observing the signs of technologies. If such signs are finally detected, then, according to Shostak, this signal will be produced by a much more advanced in terms of technology civilization than we are.
If we do find life on other planets, or a radio signal from distant neighbors in the universe, then what will be the consequences of all this? After all, if we find, for example, space germs, then the question will be much deeper than just reconsideration of the content of school books on biology, and we will expect great philosophical implications. “It will change everything we’ve ever known,” says Dr. Shostak.