“Where is everybody?”
This question had been asked by the Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi. With “they” he had meant intelligent life, thus extraterrestrials. How is it that we do not see them or that they come to us? So the American astrophysicist Frank Drake proposed the Drake equation, named after him, is an estimate of how many intelligent life forms there must be in space that would be technically capable and willing to make contact with us.
Now one can bend the Drake equation back and forth, and introduce further parameters, but one does not become smarter. At that time, we only had assumptions that other stars are also orbited by planets, but only since two decades we really know this and have already found several thousand planets in other solar systems, some of them in the so-called Goldilock zone, i.e. the habitable zone around their star, which would allow biological life like ours. But we could easily imagine that (intelligent) life would not necessarily look like ours and be composed of the elements found in our life forms. For example, there was excitement a few years ago when life forms were supposedly discovered in California with arsenic instead of phosphorus as a component, but this turned out to be false upon closer examination.
Others point out that even if intelligent life is possible elsewhere and would have the ability to contact us, the different time dimensions make encounters unlikely. After all, the age of the universe is estimated at 13.77 billion years, in which humans have had the technology to send and receive signals for just 130 years. And that in a remote corner of the Milky Way. In principle, it would be like a party lasting several hours, where the guests all drop in at different times, but only for a fraction of a second, and we are just at the toilet throwing up anyway.
A split second only because technological progress overtakes their sociological progress, and thus civilizations get their hands on technology they are not up to. The atomic button gets into children’s hands, so to speak. The ziivilizations wipe themselves out with their advanced technology and thus do not exist long enough to start a conversation with other party guests.
In other words, the search for extraterrestrial life and the possibility of communicating with them or receiving them here on Earth seemed to be nothing more than a romantic notion. Anyone who reported UFO sightings or claimed to have been abducted by UFOs was declared a crackpot.
Note 1 – Oumuamua
But now there are more and more indications of phenomena that cannot be explained with today’s technology. A first one taken very seriously was an interstellar visitor. It was an object called ʻOumuamua, which had passed through our solar system in September 2017 and had been detected by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii. Not only was it identified as coming from outside our solar system due to its perpendicular trajectory to the other planets in our solar system, it also exhibited other characteristics not previously observed. It seems to be an extremely flat and elongated object, which not only has other reflection properties than other comets and asteroids, but also showed an acceleration behavior out of our solar system, as it is only possible by high gas repulsions like those caused by the evaporation of water or other substances on the object. Only: these gas repulsions were not observed and would have to be so high that ten percent of the matter of the object would have had to evaporate thereby. The object can do this only a few times before it is completely vaporized.
Israeli-American astrophysicist Avi Loeb, who is also chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University, speculated that it could be an object of artificial origin. He suggested earlier that the search for extraterrestrials should focus on artifacts. So just as an archaeologist looks for artifacts of sunken civilizations, astrophysicists should look for the remnants of extraterrestrial civilizations. For example, the interstellar visitor could have been a solar sail or a space buoy from another civilization that may have long since perished.
Avi Loeb came up with the idea because he is working on the Breakthrough Starshot project sponsored by Russian Internet billionaire Yuri Millner, which is designed to send just such solar sails to the solar system closest to us, and would have properties similar to those shown by Oumuamua.
Note 2 – Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
And then serious reports and analyses of so-called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), which can include unidentified flying objects (UFOs), weather phenomena, and more, increased. Not least because of the reports of pilots and other highly trained personnel from civil and military aviation, who came to the public in increased numbers with their experiences.
Until the American network CBS News devoted its 60 Minutes series to these phenomena, interviewing pilots and government officials, opening the door to all speculation. The tenor was: there is something out there that is real, detected by radar, recorded by cameras, seen by our eyes, and behaving in ways that known man-made technologies cannot today. Also, these UAPs would respond to radar signals and the approach of reconnaissance aircraft by flying evasive maneuvers.
Here are some of those videos released by the Pentagon.
An official U.S. government report on EAPs is also due in June 2021, which should provide more information and, above all, suggest courses of action. After all, the Pentagon considers advanced flight technology, as observed, thus potentially threatening. Also, the places where these UAPs are found are often restricted military areas, nuclear power plants, or U.S. Navy combat units.
What does this mean for us?
Thus, after long decades of denial, the U.S. government and the Pentagon have moved to an opposite course. The sightings are admitted, also that some of them cannot be explained, and one assumes from a working hypothesis that it could also be an extraterrestrial and us superior technology.
And that is hard to digest at first moment. As much as many of us can get along with the idea of the existence of extraterrestrials, but just far away from us, so shocking would be the realization that extraterrestrials have been on Earth for a long time. Our reaction to it so far was rather, “Well, intelligent life probably exists somewhere, but that we find it is already very improbable.” Everyone who claimed to have been abducted by extraterrestrials or to be in contact with them was regarded as a crank. And now, however, it could be conceivable.
This raises three questions:
- How do people respond to not being alone in the universe?
- What does this mean for us humanity?
- Were the crackpots right after all?
We are prepared for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence not least by a multiplicity of science fiction films. More intellectual series like Star Trek, to star tales like Star Wars, or films that show aliens from the cheerful side (Mars Attacks, My Uncle from Mars), melodramas (E.T.) to dystopian scenarios (Enders Game) is represented there everything.
But what if they really are that technologically advanced? Then, if we can learn from our own history, we will probably be like the Indians in North America or the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas when they encountered the Spanish conquistadores: they were annihilated, even if sometimes unknowingly by diseases that the Europeans brought with them and that were unknown to the natives.
In other words, it could turn out very badly for us. But if they are already here, why haven’t things gone badly for us so far? Are they not only technologically more advanced, but also in their sociological and intellectual development? It is an exciting question how they have managed this. Or are we lulling ourselves into a false sense of security, like the turkey, which is fine all year round, but then has to believe it at Thanksgiving?
And the most nagging question then is whether all those (supposed) crackpots were really right and we didn’t take them seriously for years, and yet should have taken them seriously? How did it come to this that we mildly smiled at their reports and their assumptions?
If already the UFO believers have been right, I don’t even want to think further that it could be the same with conspiracy theorists. That would be too much in one year or decade. Yes what do I speak: Century! Then I emigrate: on the Mars!