General Question

eatmunky's avatar

Do you believe in intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? And if so, do you believe we'll ever contact/meet them?

Asked by eatmunky (358points) October 21st, 2008

I tend to be very science-minded, so I’m not talking little green men that want to take over. But in the cosmic span of things, in the immense vastness of space, I believe there has to be someone else out there, and I also believe that the human race can survive long enough to not only make contact but possibly come face to face with another race of intelligence. I’m talking in terms of hundreds or thousands of millenia, just getting somewhere where life existed would take thousands of lifetimes. But I don’t think it’s impossible. And if it’s not impossible it’s definitely plausible…

I also feel that if there’s no one else out there, and we’re really alone, what’s the point of everything? I think it would be comforting to know that there are others just as confused and small as us, and that we could form a “team” of sorts against the vast emptiness and join together in the search for truth.

Thats what I think, what do you guys believe?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

shadling21's avatar

I think it’s plausible, but making a connection with those little green dudes may not be. Depending on how far away they are, they could take eons to contact us (or we, them). Also, the chances that they are at a similar point in their evolution is probably slim. Maybe by the time our message gets to them, humankind will be extinct (or visa versa).

Basically, I don’t know and I don’t care too much. We should continue to look for answers to these questions, but remember that as the denizens of earth, this planet should be our primary focus. Gotta take care of home before we go visit the neighbors.

Critter38's avatar

I actually think it is plausible that life exists on Mars but perhaps only in the form of simple bacteria. This is relevant to the question, because if we find simple life forms on the closest planet to us, then this suggests that life is more frequent in the universe than we may have thought was possible…life finds a way…

Unfortunately space is also ridiculously massive. As such whatever probabilities we put on the existence of life have to be weighed against the ridiculously large expanse that is space, and the ridiculously short period of time that we have been at an evolutionary stage to contact anyone. Approximately 3.8 billion years of evolution on this planet, and there’s been 1 species out of billions that has evolved sufficient intelligence to contact anyone, and the technology to do so has only been around for approximately 50 to100 years.

End result (in agreement with shadling21), love the idea of looking, but there are far higher priorities to concern ourselves with, like looking after the intelligent and not so intelligent life on the only blue ball we know of.

sacaver's avatar

I think that life is going to turn out to be rather common, once we start looking for it. On our planet, we have found that life is not the fragile thing we may have previously thought it to be. We find life in some of the harshest environments, so I think that, on a whole, we’ll likely discover it (or past evidence of it) in many other places.

That said, the real question then moves to sentient life. This I don’t know will be that common. What it boils down to is this: as long as we don’t find another intelligent lifeform, then we should assume that we are the only example of it in all the universe. As such, the meaning and purpose of our existence becomes all important, and we should strive to make sure that we continue to exist.

asmonet's avatar

“The search for truth” ah, haven’t heard that in a while. Anyway, yeah, I think there’s at least one other ‘someone else’ out there. The universe is too big and too awesome for it not to be true. It’s that simple.

Bri_L's avatar

@asmonet – Exactly what I think. Great Answer. We may never meet them but I think they are there.

loser's avatar

I’m open to the possibilty. Can’t really say whether we’d actually hook up or not. The odds that we’re next door neighbors, so to speak, are pretty slim.

jvgr's avatar

I hope so (and in my lifetime).

stevenb's avatar

I hope so. It would be an aweful waste of a beautiful universe, if we were the only ones sentient enough to gaze at the stars and marvel at their wonder and beauty.

I have recently heard of the “rare earth theory” though. Many scientists are starting to believe that we are only here because of so many rare and random happenings, that it makes the odds for another planet capable of supporting life as complex as our own incredibly small.

I still hope there is some other planet, or even many, that get to know the beauty of life and love.

eatmunky's avatar

The way I see it, we are the universe’s only means through which it can understand itself, if that makes sense… I agree it is a miracle that the universe has produced a way to observe itself and comprehend what it’s seeing. But I think it makes too much sense that we want to know everything we possibly can about the universe. We and the universe are not separate, we are a part of it. We are made from the same stuff everything else is. I can’t believe that we are pure random happenstance. There is more than one of everything you can possibly find in the universe. I don’t see why there wouldn’t be more than one instance of the universe being cogniscent (sp?).

I had to rewrite that several times to attempt to make it make sense, and after all that I’m still not sure it does. It’s really hard to explain what I’m trying to say…

generalspecific's avatar

From A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson:

“Statistically speaking the probability that there are other thinking beings out there is good. Nobody knows how many stars there are in the Milky Way—estimates range from 100 billion or so to perhaps 400 billion—and the milky Way is just one of 140 billion or so other galaxies, many of them even larger than outs. In the 1960’s a professor at Cornell, named Frank Drake, excited by such a whopping numbers, worked out a famous equation designed to calculate the chances of advanced life in the cosmos based on a series on diminishing probabilities.
Under Drake’s equation you divide the number of stars in a selected protion of the universe by the number of stars that are likely to have panetary systems; divide that by the number of planetary systems that could theoretically support life; divide that by the number of which life, having arisen, advanced to a state of intelligence; and so on. At each such division, the number shrinks colossally—yet even with the most conservative inputs the number of advanced ciliizations just in the Milky Way always works out to be somewhere in the millions.
What an interesting and exciting thought. We may be only one of millions of advanced civilizations. Unfortunately, space being spacious, the average distance between any two of these bivilizations is reckoned to be at least two hundred light-years, which is a great deal more than merely saying it makes it sound. It means for a start that even if these beings know we are here and are somehow able to see us in their telescopes, they’re watching light that left the Earth two hundred years ago. So they’re not seeing you and me. They’re watching the French Revolutions and Thomas Jefferson and people in silk stockings and powdered wigs. (....) So even if we are not really alone, in all practical terms we are. Carl Sagan calculated the number of probably planets in the universe at large at 10 billion trillion—a number vastly beyond imagining. But what is equally beyond imagining is the amount of space through which they are lightly scattered.”

Very good book.

eatmunky's avatar

I’ve heard drake’s equation before, but personally I don’t think it’s good to go by yet. There’s too many blanks that need to be filled in. Apparently Bryson says the most conservative estimates put the number of civilization in the milky way alone in the millions. But Drake himself said there should be about 10,000 civilations in the universe, and I’ve heard other people say it comes out to only 10 in the universe. I don’t think it’s a good thing to rely on seeing as until we have definite numbers to fill it with, it’s pure speculation. But either way, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” sounds like a very interesting read :D

fireside's avatar

You can actually work with the Drake Equation on this site. But like eatmunky said, it has been found to have flaws.

Personally, I do believe that there is other intelligent life out there and I hope they stop by soon with plans for alternative energy sources before we kill each other over the ones we are used to using.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I think that with as large as the known universe is, there would probably be a better than average chance of another intelligent race (much smarter than humans I’d guess) being out there somewhere.

I also believe that if contact is ever made with said intelligence, it will probably be initiated by them and not by us because they are too far away for us to find them first and they won’t contact us until it is in their best interests to do so.

aaronb's avatar

yes and yes

Aster's avatar

I feel certain there are little GRAY people and other types of humanoids out there. Whether we will make contact with them? Yes; someday.

crazydreams's avatar

yes and I believe some already have,

I look at it like it’s not something out of the norm that could or already have happened, I mean why not? The sheer existence of ourselves and our own planet is just as amazingly impossible from something or someone else’s point of view that WE so take for granted as “the norm”
I live in the UK, I cannot see, hear or reach anyone in lets say Australia for example, but since travel and communication came about now we can, that doesn’t mean Australia was never there before, It was just out of reach at that present time. Maybe when we can find ways to travel and communicate further our eyes and minds will be wide open, unless we already have :s

I also ponder on the fact that our own planet was once at this stage of higher travel and communication 1000’s of years ago and somehow lost a huge amount of knowledge along the way or the earth did some kind of recycle and wiped everything out or…..

they left :)

Aster's avatar

Yes, no and they’re gray. lol

VenusFanelli's avatar

It’s possible but not certain that other life exists. Interstellar distances are too great to be overcome. Relativity limits the speed of matter, and energy requirements for such travel can never be met. How can we ever contain and direct hydrogen fusion or matter-antimatter reaction? In any case, either fuel source would require a mass of that fuel far larger than the spaceship to be propelled. How could we carry it and accelerate it with the spaceship. We get into infinite regression, so interstellar travel will always be impossible. There are no magic solutions to the severe problems involved, so each life form will be forever confined to its own star system. There can never be any direct contact between beings on planets of different stars. I know some people will not want to hear this, but they have no valid arguments against it.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther