For long have people debated whether we are alone in the universe. The idea of having happened in another planet the event-chain, or a similar one, that happened on Earth, have always fascinated us. So, can we positively say that there is life outside this very planet? Read more for some clues.
What differentiates our planet from the others?
Scientists and curious alike have studied, calculated and analyzed theories, numbers and data in order to find definite proof of extraterrestrial life. Through history, many have claimed with certainty to have found the missing proof, but skeptics have always managed to discredit such claims, or prove their falsehood.
It has been defended before that the origin of life in our planet was a consequence of a perfectly orchestrated chain of events, that made our planet so unique and receptive to life. The very structure of our Solar System; the characteristics of our Sun and the distance of our planet from it; the perfect conditions for the formation of an atmosphere and liquid water- all of these events differentiated our planet from all others, and as such, made the receipt for life exclusive to Earth, at least according to some.
I am of the opinion that Earth is not a special or super planet. Earth is a unique planet that has an incredibly story behind it. We are but a portion of the content our planet has put out there, erasing and re-writing as it saw fit. However, that history is insignificant compared to the history of the universe, just as our own history is insignificant compared to the history of the Earth. Who can guarantee with certainty that what happened in Earth didn't happen in other planets far from our reach? Or who can say for sure, that extraterrestrial life need oxygen and water to exist like ours do? One can only assume.
When thinking about alien life, don't think about THE Alien!
When talking about extraterrestrial life, you might initially think of a little green man with big round eyes or the creature from the movie Alien. This needs not be the case! Extraterrestrial life may range from a complex multicellular organism to a single cell. One can't even consider a human-shaped alien as seen in the movies, or similar to any other animal on our planet for that matter. If there is life originating from other planets, the conditions where it was formed and developed would most likely make it something on a complete different level than anything living in our planet, both appearance and anomty-wise. This argument takes into account all those movie creatures and strange humanoid images, unless they were based on actual witnessings...
Many People have claimed before to have seen aliens, UFOs, or even had encounters with otherworldly entities. There are pictures and videos. We have even looked back into our ancient civilizations history to find traces of outside visitors and explanations for our own past achievements. There is a an endless source of "proof" of alien life out there, and with the internet, some of these go viral. However, if one were to filter all this proof and witnessings, you would probably end up with a total of 1% of serious, arguable and of-reliable-source information. Out of that percentage, you may end up with another small percentage of actual proof, not of alien life itself, but of unknown extraterrestrial signals and unknown things. And that is what is worth studying and delving into, if not only for the mere curiosity of it.
Trying to find proof
Some of the most debatable findings include those of microscopic fossils of extraterrestrial beings in meteorites. In 1996, David McKay, a Nasa researcher, said he had found what appeared to be traces of Martian life inside a meteorite recovered from Allan Hills in Antarctica in 1984. In 1997, Richard Hoover claimed to have found fossils of micro-organisms similar to cyanobacteria in carbonaceous meteorites. More recently, 10 January 2013, a group of scientists published the article "Fossil Diatoms in a New Carbonaceous Meteorite" in the Journal of Cosmology, proving the existence of extraterrestrial life through their findings of fossilized algae discovered inside a Sri Lankan meteorite.
All these claims may seem very exciting, but there are a few points we must take into account before assuming that our planet is a tourist attraction.
-Contamination: These findings are not without credit. However, there is the chance that these meteorites could have been contaminated on our our planet, before their coming to light;
-Not actual meteorites: Some of these meteorites were pointed as to being very similar to other rocks found on our planet;
-Not actual fossils: In some cases, the veracity of these findings being of extraterrestrial fossils is doubtful, as they could be part of other organisms or earthly material.
Listening to the skies
Another source of research for alien life comes from distant signals and frequencies that our earthly antennas pick up. A famous example of this is the "Wow!" signal. In August 1977, the Big Ear Radio Telescope, at Ohio State University, detected an unusual pulse of radiation from somewhere near the constellation Sagittarius. The 37-second-long signal was so startling that an astronomer monitoring the data scrawled "Wow!" on the telescope's printout. Big Ear used numbers and letters to determine the strength of a signal, with 0 being meaningless noise and Z being a strong radio signal. The strange signal clocked at ‘6EQUJ5’, generating the famous "Wow!" signal. As the nearest star in that direction is 220 million light years away, either a massive astronomical event or a very powerful transmitter would have had the ability to create it. The signal remains unexplained today.
A more recent example of unexplained radio signals comes from the SETI project in February 2003, where a massive telescope in Puerto Rico was used to re-examine sections of the sky which had all previously yielded unexplained radio signals. These signals had all disappeared, except for one which had become stronger. The signal came from an area in space where there are no planets or stars and strangely was at a frequency that hydrogen absorbs, ensuring that the signal would be strong enough to travel great distances. Considering the fact that the signal was detected multiple times, one can only assume someone wants to be noticed.
Regarding these strange signals and their origins, it's something for the curious to think about. For the skeptic, however, there is always the possibility that these signals are from unknown natural phenomena. For example, an unexplained pulsed radio signal, thought to be artificial in 1967, turned out to be the first ever sighting of a pulsar.
What can we take from this?
There are many more sources of extraterrestrial studies and interesting theories out there, these are just a few good examples I thought to include in this personal reflective article, which I am sharing with you. I guess one cannot say for sure that we have found alien life. I am certain of one thing, though, life is amazing and it can adapt to the toughest and most incredible of situations: the extreme desert environments, the dark depths of the oceans, under the Antarctic ice, in the acid surroundings of a Volcano, etc. Why should the thought of existing life be exclusive to our planet if the universe is huge and there are other stars and planets out there, most likely capable of sustaining life in similar, or even more auspicious conditions?
I am not a believer, but I am not a complete skeptic either. I am open to new thoughts and ideas, as I am ready to disregard what is absurd and irrational. Even the irrational sometimes has something to think about, after all ideas and new theories usually start from mere assumptions. I like food for thought, you should do as well.