Is There Extra-Terrestrial Life In The Universe? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Have you ever looked up to the sky at night, gazed at the stars or planets and wondered if they might be able to support life? This stirs up the question: Is there extra-terrestrial life in the universe? Primitive caveman 30,000 years ago might have been the earliest to wonder this timeworn question, since pictures and drawings of celestial bodies have been found and studied in their caves.

Today, this question is still considered by many, especially astronomers and scientists. Through technology, they are able to study the question more efficiently and try to arrive at a conclusion. However, there are many theories and not all agree with the probable existence of E.T. life.

The Seeds Of Life

Some believe that billions of years ago, comets and asteroids hit the Earth, bringing the seeds of life. The seeds formed in space's interstellar reaches and became part of these comets and asteroids. According to Herman von Helmholtz, a scientist, this is how life began on Earth and how it must also have begun in other solar systems through random chemistry.

Meanwhile, other scientists think that if comets and asteroids brought life to Earth, why has it not appeared in our vicinity? Still, many scientists are convinced that the seeds of life fell from space to our planet and the same must have occurred somewhere else in the cosmos.

Life on Earth

While it is life on Earth that has led us to think about the probable existence of alien life, astronomers (along with zoologists and microbiologists) have been paying close attention to the adaptability of some creatures in environments that would be regarded as too harsh for life to survive. In the abyss, for example, creatures, such as the anglerfish, have adapted to survive in total darkness and the incredible water pressure which is 100 thousand times the atmospheric pressure at sea level. Communities near pitch-dark hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor get their energy from minerals from the Earth's core, instead of sunlight. Microorganisms like the tardigrade, found in moss, can survive in temperatures from -400 to 400EF, and require very little water to live. And certain bacteria can tolerate 200EF and high acidity.

All this suggests the possibility that other creatures might also have mastered living in the environments of other planets of our solar system. They may live in Jupiter's dense atmospheric pressure, or on Jupiter's moon Europa where its water-ice crust may cover an ocean 30 miles deep where no light can penetrate. Another planet that might sustain life is Mars, where creatures similar to the tardigrade could survive this cold, waterless world. E.T. life could also exist in Venus' sulfurous clouds that are full of acid rain, and where temperatures are over 900EF.

The Possibilities of E.T. Life

The possibilities of the existence of intelligent life are great, but the possibility of finding them is not. Since 1960 a group of astronomers have dedicated themselves to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). One of these searchers is Frank Drake, a radio astronomer who invented the Drake equation used to figure out the number of civilizations capable of communicating through radio signals outside the solar system. Although this equation is not an accurate way to estimate the number of communicating worlds, it encourages radio astronomers to listen for signals from intelligent alien life.

Every day astronomers are listening for any kind of noise that could indicate another world trying to contact us. The only impediment to this is that if a civilization exists, the nearest one to Earth might be thousands of light years away. Communicating would take a long time and the radio wave might not reach its destination because of the estimated distances from one civilization to the next.

Another question remains: If we ever received a signal, could we decipher it? But even more intriguing is this question: Could we communicate through words or by other means? Some astronomers and exobiologists have high hopes that we could. They are looking at how some animals, like the gorilla, are being taught to speak American Sign Language in order to communicate with us. Humans are now able to communicate with dolphins, elephants, domesticated animals, etc. If humans and animals can now understand each other, with animals having less intelligence, it is very probable we could do the same with intelligent E.T. life.

It may seem easy to accept the idea that E.T life does not exist because there has not been any hard evidence to prove it. And if, as some believe, the formation of life is one of a realm of possibilities, it would mean that there is a good chance that we are alone in the universe. For now, those who believe in the existence of E.T. life can just hope and study the question. As an 18th century writer once said, "it is absurd to think that in a field sewn with millet, only one grain will grow." And if we are not that one grain in this vast universe, future discoveries may move us closer to answering this age-old question. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Msweger1 said...
May 4, 2015 at 11:04 pm
This article is spot on! Such a powerful positive message in taking responsibility for positive actions in creating an environment of understanding. Let's carry this message with us daily as a reminder we all have our stories, so let's share them and be resourceful to one another!!!
 
fayaz555 said...
Feb. 16, 2014 at 3:49 am
goood job , very informative
 
julian This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm
This article addresses a truly relevant topic in a deep and thoughtful way. I enjoy how you approach both sides of the issue and explain the reasoning. I personally believe that there is definitely Extraterrestrial life in the universe. In fact, check out my article about my ideas about the universe. It explains my reasoning. It may seem far fetched, but give it a good thinking over and give me your feedback. I love sharing ideas!
 
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