Do aliens really exist?
Given that my first two children’s picture books revolve entirely around an alien called Sally, it may not surprise you to find out that I personally do believe that aliens exist!
But did you know that there’s a really interesting debate about the logic of whether or not we’re alone in the universe (or universes!)?
It’s called the Fermi Paradox, and it goes a little something like this…
The Fermi Paradox
In 1950, physicist Enrico Fermi came up with a very interesting question, which we still can’t answer today.
First off, Fermi noted the fact that it’s basically statistically impossible for us to be the only intelligent life in the galaxy (he talked about the galaxy, but the same applies to ‘universe’, since it’s obviously even bigger!).
The universe is so unimaginably huge and so unimaginably old, that there simply must be more intelligent life in it than just us.
Then, Fermi noted that given the age of our galaxy – and therefore the length of time that intelligent life would have had to evolve – more advanced lifeforms should have such advanced technology that they should actually find travelling to Earth to be a very straightforward exercise!
So far, so good?
But now comes the big question.
Given that the points above are correct beyond any reasonable doubt… where are all the aliens?!
So that’s the Fermi Paradox – statistically we can say that there’s no doubt that aliens do exist, and we can also say that some of those aliens should find it very easy to get here. So, why aren’t they here?!
And does the fact that they’re not here suggest that we are, in fact, ‘alone in the universe’?
Well, there are several theories to answer that question.
First of all though, I guess we should just take a mental note that Fermi was pondering this dilemma in 1950. Obviously at that point there was no internet, so people weren’t so clued up on what was going on in different parts of the world and didn’t have the means to ‘chat’ to people they didn’t even know, about strange things they’d seen or heard about.
One of the consequences of that was that conspiracy theories were a bit thin on the ground!
My point here is that, presumably, Fermi didn’t seriously consider the possibility that other lifeforms had already visited Earth on many occasions, and their arrival had been covered up by governments.
Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist!
But I think it’s only fair to mention this as a possibility, before moving on to the main theories that attempt to answer the Fermi paradox. Because you could also say that the lack of internet and global communications meant that people couldn’t share genuine sightings of UFOs for example, so no one else knew they’d happened.
If you’re interested, you can check out this news report explaining the controversy around the alleged UFO landing at Roswell, which some believe was ‘covered up’ by the US government. There’s also a rather interesting short video clip in relation to this at the end of this post!
But, while not entirely dismissing the possibility that aliens are already here, let’s swiftly move on to some serious scientific answers!
Answers to the Fermi Paradox – Do Aliens Exist?
One of the main theories as to why we could indeed be alone in the universe, is that we’re basically just really really really really lucky that the planet Earth has the exact perfect conditions to support life. And that no where else got that lucky…
The Perfect Earth (i.e. we’re very lucky to be here!)
We’re the perfect distance away from our sun, so the Earth is the right temperature for liquid water to exist – which we know is essential to life as we know it.
And we have a good combination of the right chemicals knocking around that are needed to support life.
The chances of those two things happening are pretty slim, but we hit the jackpot.
So maybe no other planet got quite so lucky, and there just isn’t another planet out there that could support life?
One thing to point out here though, is that we’re talking about the right conditions to support life as we know it. It could be that lifeforms on other worlds have totally different requirements to us, and couldn’t survive on Earth but thrive on their own planet.
That said, even if another planet had optimum conditions for life to exist on it, it’d have to support that life for long enough for evolution to take place. After all, it took us a while (probably about 380 million years) to work our way up from fishy like creatures to humans!
A lot could have gone wrong in that time that didn’t – so again we’ve been incredibly lucky.
Maybe life on another planet didn’t manage to evolve all the way up to intelligent lifeforms, due to colliding with a giant space rock.
Or maybe they had a huge solar flare that destroyed all life… or just some other event that meant life didn’t get to evolve past a certain point.
Then, even if life on another planet overcame all those hurdles, they’d have to develop the technology to visit other planets with life on them, or at least communicate with them, for us to know they were there.
Which I guess is around about where humankind is now.
So that’s quite a lot of hoops to jump through, and there is a possibility that we’re the only ones in the whole universe who have managed it!
Which ties in quite neatly with the next theory…
Maybe all other alien civilisations are LESS advanced than us
Here’s another possibility – we’re actually the most advanced civilisation in the universe.
All other intelligent lifeforms are ‘behind’ us in terms of their technological advances for some reason.
So, since we haven’t managed to discover extra-terrestrial life yet, there’s no real hope of them communicating with us. It’s just going to have to wait until we find a way to talk to them, or travel to them.
Which isn’t looking very likely any time soon.
To me this scenario seems very unlikely, since there are likely to be planets that could support life which are millions of years ahead of Earth’s timeline.
But, it’s possible.
Or, they’re much more advanced… and that’s a problem
I haven’t heard this theory in relation to the Fermi Paradox (although I’m sure it has been suggested, as it’s a fairly obvious one!), but perhaps civilisations tend to get to a certain point in their technological advancement, then end up destroying themselves with that technology, or through the processes that got them there!
And maybe that point comes before the point where they manage to communicate with other civilisations.
We’re having trouble picking up the signals!
Another possible explanation for the Fermi Paradox is that there are aliens out there, and maybe they are trying to communicate with us, but we just don’t understand each other enough to even recognise that the other has tried to communicate.
For example, if we’re busy trying to let other civilisations know that we’re here by sending out radio signals, but they communicate via smell or telepathy for example, we’re probably not going to get very far.
In a similar way, some scientists have suggested that the communications technology of alien lifeforms could be so much more advanced than ours that we just haven’t got a hope of intercepting their messages.
They’re just not that interested in us!
Then there’s also the possibility that other intelligent life just isn’t that interested in communicating with us!
Maybe they’re quite capable of it, but they’re a very fearful species who like to keep themselves to themselves.
Or maybe they’re somehow able to study us from a great distance, so have no particular need to travel here and don’t see the point in alerting us to their presence.
Or, maybe they don’t hold us in very high regard! Maybe they’ve built the absolute perfect world and they know enough about us to know that we’re capable of messing it up – so they’re staying well clear!
They’re here, but they’re hiding from us!
And finally, there’s the possibility that the aliens are here but we just don’t know about it.
This is a bit different to the ‘coverup’ scenario I mentioned at the start.
This theory suggests that intelligent life is actually already visiting Earth, but they have the technology to hide the fact from us!
So maybe they can make themselves invisible for example. Or maybe they can morph into a perfect replica of a human being if anyone sees them, then just disappear in the blink of an eye! Or they can somehow make us forget that we see them – in fact I’m sure there’s a good Dr Who episode based on that theory now that I think about it!
I guess you could make up no end of scenarios whereby extra terrestrials could hide themselves, or their true nature, from us.
So, what do you think?
Do aliens really exist?
And if they do, why on Earth don’t we know about it?!
As for me, I’m still one hundred percent a believer.
To me, the universe is just too inconceivably huge for us to be the only ones in it. It’s so big that words become meaningless when trying to describe just how big it is (I have a post on this coming soon!).
And our whole planet is just a minuscule little dot floating around somewhere within it.
I LOVE this google video which helps to demonstrate the point of how tiny we are in relation to the universe (never mind the fact that there might be multiple universes!)…
To me, the Fermi Paradox is a hugely interesting dilemma to puzzle out, but the answer simply can’t be that we’re the only ones.
And what do I think these aliens might be like? Well, I have absolutely no blimmin idea whatsoever!
But my logic would suggest that, for the reasons we’ve already gone over, there are civilisations out there that have sufficiently advanced technologies to communicate and visit with us.
And if a civilisation has that level of technology available, then chances are it would also have the technology to hide from us in one way or another, should that be necessary.
And why would such aliens choose to do that? Maybe they think that we’d immediately see them as a threat and try to destroy them before they hurt us… even if they had no intention of doing so!
And maybe they’d be absolutely correct in thinking that.
But, of course, I could be wrong about all this!
I just hope I’m not because, well… how boring would that be?!!
So to finish up, let’s just circle back to the beginning of this little discussion, where I mentioned the possibility that other lifeforms actually do visit us on a regular basis, and that some governments might even be well aware of it.
Who knows whether or not there’s any truth in that, but just for fun why not check out these recently released videos of UFOs taken by US Navy Pilots.
Interestingly, the United States government have confirmed that they just don’t know what these unidentified flying objects really are, and haven’t ruled out the possibility that they are alien in origin – as reported in this BBC News article.
Even more interestingly, based on evidence like this, there are many high profile military and government figures who are firmly of the opinion that these ariel phenomena must be fully investigated, and that the possibility of them being extra-terrestrial in origin can’t be ruled out.
This news report also talks about how it’s becoming more and more acceptable to talk about these possibilities seriously, whereas not so long ago people who held these opinions tended to get mocked – a lot!
Take a look for yourself. You never know, it might help you to decide on your own answer to the question – do aliens really exist?!…