Life looks for Life

Warning: This post is not based on much, if any, science. It is merely my opinion and pure speculation.

An article in the Guardian that someone linked to me annoyed me slightly today. It shouldn’t really have annoyed me, but I was up early for work so it did. The article was titled ‘Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations‘.

Now, first of all, to all you naysayers out there, there is an extremely high probability that other intelligent life (by intelligent in this respect we mean capable of deep space radio communication) exists in the galaxy and the Universe. The maths doesn’t really allow us to be the only life in the Universe.

We all think of aliens as if they’d be similar to us (two arms, two legs, and so on) but this is highly improbable. We only have two arms and two legs as a result of random events that happened in the first days of evolution. Despite what they may look life and their differences, an intelligent civilisation is surely going to have a similar morality though, right?

A more advanced civilisation than our own would be well past the point of destroying themselves, they’d have learnt the dangers as we are doing now. We’d have science and mathematics in common. Mathematics is the only universal language and it’s how we’d commune with them upon first contact. These aliens would be curious. Perhaps they’d been searching for other life in the galaxy too, they’d finally know that they aren’t alone, as would we. Even if they’d already discovered other life finding more would be an astonishing discovery.

Why would they see us as a threat (as some of the article suggests)? An advanced civilisation wouldn’t be afraid of a new, relatively under-developed civilisation emerging. They’d embrace it, right? They wouldn’t want to destroy us. They wouldn’t need resources from our tiny planet. They wouldn’t destroy us for our water, water’s one of the most common compounds in the Universe. There’s plenty of other planetary systems with far superior resources for them to use than the dwindling supplies on the Earth.

It’s all we humans have ever done, we are an exploring species. We crave to know more, to explore further. Life looks for life.


Drake’s Equation: The Search for Life

The BBC television series Bang Goes the Theory (@bbcbang) has managed to do a truly fantastic job of engaging people, young and old, in science and technology. Now one of their presenters, Dallas Campbell, is hosting a special one off, one hour documentary on the Drake equation.

I’m quite excited about it for it is one of the most important equations, at least in my opinion, ever conceived. The equation sets out to figure how many planets may be suitable for life in the galaxy, and on those planets whether life arises, and ultimately how many intelligent civilisations there are capable of communicating with us.

Carl Sagan did a short bit on this equation in his 1980’s TV series ‘Cosmos’. Since then however we have learnt more and can refine the numbers we input to get ever increasing more accurate answers.

The chaps at BBC Bang are surely going to manage to pull off quite an astonishing programme. It airs on Tuesday 14th December on BBC Four at 8pm. Be sure to set your recorders.

In the meantime here’s a sneaky peek. A video of Dallas interviewing Dr Felisa Wolfe-Simon about the (highly debatable, I might add) discovery of Arsenic loving bacteria.

Edit: I meant to add that my OU course head lecturer, Dr David Rothery, was one of the scientific consultants for the programme. More information on the programme is here if you want a read!

Exciting Astrobiology Discovery

Stay tuned for an exciting astrobiology discovery! NASA are holding a news conference tonight at 1900 GMT to discuss a finding ‘that will affect the search for life’. Sounds jolly intriguing. Looking at some of the discussions on the OU forums from our course head, it looks likely to be based on lifeforms that can use arsenic in place of phosphorous. It could demonstrate separately developed life on Earth, increasing again the chance for life elsewhere.

Enough guessing and stuff though we’ll find out from the conference tonight. You can watch it here at NASA TV. Starts 1900 GMT on the media channel I believe!