Written by: Amna AlMadani
Article in brief: The author looks into the possibility of finding a second Earth, as well as extraterrestrial beings.
As a child, I wasn’t as fascinated with the idea of aliens and their possible existence. However, I was always exposed to it, as I’m sure we all were, thanks to Hollywood. While I did experience the suspension of disbelief when watching such movies, the dramatic representation of such beings’ physicality and how they must be the invading villains, made my young mind leave it as just that: a science fiction movie. But then I grew up, and so did my curiosity. In the last decade or so, many findings regarding outer space were discovered. Just recently in April 2014, NASA discovered a Planet very similar to ours that scientists introduced it as Earth’s cousin. The Planet named Kepler-186f, was found in the “Habitat able zone” where the existence of water is likely, which makes it possible for us to inhabit it, or find extraterrestrials already inhabiting it.
However, Kepler-186f is approximately 500 light years away from our Earth. The term light years might be misleading as some might associate it with time, but light years are measured in distance to Earth, since it’s how much light travels within our normal year. 500 light years equals more than 4 trillion km; which is really a lot. In other words, if a normal spacecraft was sent to Kepler-186f, we’ll all be dead by the time it reaches our cousin planet. This is just an example, because the spacecraft itself won’t survive to continue such a long trip.
If humans succeed in inventing a machine, that can travel faster than the speed of light, maybe then travelling to such planets can be achieved. Thus seemingly making it a time machine.Albert Einstein’s “theory of relativity” deems it possible that humans can one day obtain such power. An example of his theory, is that you, the one reading this right now, aren’t the only you occurring at this moment, but you who said your first words and you who will take your last breath, also occur. He came to the conclusion in his theory, that time is not bound or fixed into categories as he explained that “…for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.”
Another occurrence which still perplexes scientists took place in 1977. On August 15 of that year, Jerry Ehman an astronomer volunteering for the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), detected a radio signal, which was too strong to be merely noise from outer space, and its attributes fit the criteria of what a deliberate message from an intelligent being would be like. The signal lasted for 72 seconds. Amazed by this Ehman wrote the words “wow!” next to the printed data, hence its name. As fascinating as it is, no message similar to the wow signal was detected again, even though scientists relentlessly tried to send signals back. 35 years later in 2012, the Arecibo Observatory, one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, encouraged people to engage in sending one combined message, specifically towards the direction where the wow signal first came from. This message was formed using tweets, which included the hashtag #ChasingUFOs, it was all compiled and beamed into space in the 35th anniversary of the wow signal. No response came back.
Regardless, let’s assume this theory was true and one day an advanced spacecraft that beats the speed of light comes to be. If we succeed in finding another Earth containing life as we know it, with intelligent beings like us, or maybe it’s better to say “thinking” beings, because what happened to the Ozone Layer doesn’t seem like a work of an intelligent being nor the nuclear weapons and the massacres occurring on daily basis. Only if brilliance equals domination no matter the destruction and casualties it causes. We don’t know what to expect of such beings, however, if the wow signal was in fact from extraterrestrials, it would be a given that they surpass us in technology, because scientists explain that the signal received in 1977, was too strong and the medium used must have been really technologically advanced than any radio we have on earth.
I’m sure most if not all of us 7 billion humans, have wondered whether there is more out there. Looking back, I would have laughed at the notion, but my current self, believes there’s a very high possibility that we are not alone in this vast universe. But with the way things are functioning here on earth, I don’t think we’re ready for others, because it might be more of a collision than a contact with them, and not because they’re a threat to us, but because we are already a threat to our own planet.
There’s also a possibility that such Earth-like planets might be habitable yet it doesn’t necessarily need to be populated, humankind can start again in such planets, seeing as ours is moving slowly – or maybe faster – to extinction. If so, another conflict might arise, since it appears that we can’t function as species without one. What if there’ll be a poll on who gets to survive and inhabit this second earth-like planet, and all people who are seen as criminals and a liability are left behind. Does the end really justify the means? This reminds me of a Hollywood movie trailer I’ve seen recently, but somehow it doesn’t feel as fictional as it used to.
- AlArabiya, 18 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 June 2014. <http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/last-page/2014/04/18/هل-هذا-كوكب-الأرض-٢-حيث-قد-تعيش-كائنات-فضائية؟.html>.
- “Albert Einstein and the Fabric of Time.” Albert Einstein and the Fabric of Time. Gevin Giorbran, 10 Apr. 2007. Web. 13 June 2014. <http://everythingforever.com/einstein.htm>.
- Cronin, Melissa. “Twitter ‘Alien’ Shout-Out: #ChasingUFOs Tweet Planned As Reply To 1977 ‘Wow! Signal’ (VIDEO).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 June 2012. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/alien-message-wow-signal-twitter-chasingufos_n_1626193.html>.
- Kiger, Patrick J. . “What is the Wow! Signal? | National Geographic Channel.” National Geographic Channel. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 13 June 2014. <http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/chasing-ufos/articles/what-is-the-wow-signal/>.
- “NASA’s Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The ‘Habitable Zone’ of Another Star.” NASA. NASA, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 June 2014. <http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star/#.U52nhKnvPFJ>.
- Press, Associated. “Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 June 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-2607117/Astronomers-spot-Earth-like-planet-yet.html>.