Many of us Earthlings have an insatiable appetite for information about “what is out there?” particularly alien life.
Given that the universe is almost 14 billion years old (does it matter how old, if there is no answer to what predated it?), there has been more than enough time for other Earth-like planets to spawn some form of intelligent life and for that life to wonder “what is out there?” from wherever they are.
Humans are eternally curious and ingenious. We have learned quite a lot about what is out there, how far away things are and how long it takes to get from one place to another.
The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second (give or take) and since the speed of light is believed to be the universe’s speed limit, it is practically impossible for modern humans to live long enough to get anywhere worth getting to. So why do we care what strange beings live among the stars?
We should ask what “going there” means? An alien encounter would be nothing like that of the Pilgrims running into Native Americans on the shores of Plymouth Harbor.
“Going there” may mean learning their form of communicating, possibly seeing pictures (of some sort) of their physical manifestation and what they have created of what we call “a life.”
In the process of such exchanges, we would learn a lot more about “out there” than we know now.
Which leads to another interesting question: With billions of years already behind us, is it possible that some other intelligent forms of life may have found us a long, long time ago? It could have happened well before our known sources of history, which go back only a few thousands of years.
That idea was most famously posited in “2001: A Space Odyssey” but has long lived on the fringes of science as fodder for tabloid headlines and conspiracy buffs.
Very recently, however, it has been suggested by what seems to be a reasonable source that a very long time ago, perhaps when our earth was quite young, aliens did pay us a visit. And now there might be a way to prove it.
But it is interesting to speculate how they might have gotten here, where they came from, and what we can learn from what they may have left behind.
My curiosity is piqued. But one of the frustrations of science is that evidence lags far behind imagination, and we will likely wait a long time (in human terms) for more information and insight on the subject. Then again, within about 100 years we will likely achieve almost eternal life for a least a lucky (or not) few.
That wait for theories to flourish or fail will seem less daunting to people for whom age is personally meaningless, and they might even become our first interstellar explorers, venturing forth to answer the question, “What is out there?” with two simple words: