Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Extraterrestrial Contact: Everyone in the Same Boat?

I make assumptions on this blog. One major one is that there are at least a few civilizations in our Galaxy far in advance of us in terms of technology. This would really be our only hope for communicating with extraterrestrials. A presentation by Cornell University student Evan Solomonides says that we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting. His extrapolation is that it could be 1,500 years until First Contact. He made his remarks to an American Astronomical Society meeting this year. Space.com writer Nola Redd reports that Solomonides thinks humans may be on the same development track as any other extraterrestrial civilization that may be out there. Meaning that extraterrestrials are probably no more or less technologically advanced than us. This idea is based on the particular mixture of heavy elements needed to produce life as we know it. It takes many generations of stars to produce the amount needed to produce life. That means most other stars with life would be along the same timeline as us.

It’s an interesting idea. Many people have been attempting to answer the Fermi Paradox, which asks why we haven’t heard from extraterrestrials yet. Solomonides would argue that if they are out there, they simply haven’t developed enough for us to hear them or for them to hear us. And that’s what the search for extraterrestrial life comes down to for humans right now- radio and television signals traveling through space.

There are plenty of other reasons we may not have heard from extraterrestrials- they may not care to talk to us. They may have sophisticated methods of communication that we can’t detect. They may be waiting to say hello until we are further developed. They may not care if any other civilizations are out there. But the idea of equal technological development is an interesting idea. I suppose if that is the case, we really won’t know anything for many more generations. That, in and of itself, is kind of an annoying idea. Thanks Evan.


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