Everybody loves the idea of aliens, either threatening the whole civilization or (in a turnaround), being discovered by humans while looking for signs of life on Mars. But let’s face it, we all want (fantasize?) the humans species to stumble upon a highly advanced, preferably outer space, alien life and try to communicate with that otherworldly life.
If you think about it, an alien civilization at the bottom of earth’s core doesn’t sound nearly as cool as alien sharks on Titan ready to attack encroaching NASA scientists.
However, let’s have a look at one of the best explanations why humans haven’t been able to find any alien life (and probably never will but that’s another discussion altogether).
At the present moment in time, the only receptive forms of life that humans have been able to discover are plants and animals. Humans have found plenty of these on land, in the mountains, and under the sea.
Not only that, humans have also sent spaceships into the far reaches of the solar system but have, as of yet, come short every single time.
So what are we getting at here? Well, we are, as of now, alone. Alone in this solar system at the very least and probably alone in the milky way galaxy. Some say, we are alone in the universe but that remains to be proven.
Why haven’t humans been able to discover complex alien life? Is it the way we are trying to locate aliens or is it just a matter of time before our efforts finally pay off?
This question has been addressed in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle in a study that is expected to be published in the coming months.
The study chooses a different route to understand why humans haven’t been able to find a habitable planet within reach yet. The research paper says that “life” as scientists currently understand it may not need a star that is similar to our sun.
Life could, in fact, evolve on other planets that are orbiting other stars that are smaller than our Sun. In fact, those stars may be much fragile than our own star.
And if we as a species could just let go of the idea that life must evolve from scratch on a planet that orbits a star like our star, then it turns out that there is a much greater chance that the universe will move to a point where it has more habitable spots than it has at the present moment in time.
The lead author of the research paper Avi Loeb who works at Harvard University said that humans need to move away from their natural thinking that other ,potential, life is supposed to mimic our own.
The author said that this line of thinking is expected because humans only know of one form of life at the moment, that is ourselves.
As a result, people blatantly assume that the only place where life would be able to emerge anywhere else in the universe would be next to a sun-like star.
In other words, if we can just detach ourselves from the idea that humans need to find a sun-like star in order to find or start life someplace else, then there is actually a whole category of new stars that may support complex life.
This class of stars doesn’t have to be as powerful and as big as our own Sun. But the main advantage in considering these stars is that they are simply more in number than our sun-like stars.
These are also known as low mass stars and when we change our thinking into considering these stars, suddenly, a lot of planets look like decent contenders for complex life.
The authors were of the opinion that these type of stars are never going to be as powerful and strong as our own Sun. But that doesn’t need to be a bad news, at all.
These stars, even though small, can emit enough energy to forge potentially habitable areas. Areas that could support water in all its three forms.
The other condition, that is a prerequisite for complex life to evolve, these planets could have is the quality of having a rocky mass.
Scientists say that these type of stars are considerably more common in the universe when compared to other sun-like stars.
Not only that, researchers also believe that these smaller stars have way longer lifespans than that of our Sun. Sometimes as much as 1000 times that of our Sun.
Taking all these assumptions into account, Avi Loeb was able to calculate that it was far more likely that life could have developed on planets that orbit these distant smaller stars.
Loeb also noted that if humans can accept the idea that these low-mass stars can indeed support complex life then the probability of life cropping up on other planets increases a thousand times.
One caveat though and it is an infinitely huge one. Loeb is talking about a future that is at least 10 trillion years from the present moment.
So whatever happens then, us and our earth (along with our sun, our solar system, our galaxy, our neighboring galaxy Andromeda) would have been blown to smithereens about 9.9 trillion years before that.
Some believe that humans are starting their search for extraterrestrial life way sooner than is reasonable. Earth doesn’t orbit a low mass star but we humans still exist and have existed for a considerable period of time.
And besides, Earth is the only planet where humans have been able to find any kind of life. Perhaps NASA should stop exploring the galaxy unless and until humans are able to develop advanced star wars like means of transport.
According to Loeb’s theory, humans were put on earth way too early and that the universe isn’t exactly ripe for complex life at the moment.
But looking ahead trillions of years from now, the chances of complex life in the universe would increase by a thousand-fold at least.
If the theory turns out to be correct (let’s face it, nobody’s going to crucify Loeb’s descendants 10 trillion years from now if the theory doesn’t hold up) then that means, the universe will be exploding with life after about ten trillion years. After we are all gone.
But as a counter argument for all the points discussed above is that many low mass stars can’t support life even in theoretically habitable areas. Maybe there is some other mysterious factor that subdues conditions for complex life to develop.
Loeb also believes that the thinking that humans are the most advanced form of life in the universe and are probably the center of complex life in the whole universe, has not made sense to him after studying tons of data.
But he does say that if it turns out to be that humans are indeed a rare species and are ahead of the game in that we developed before any other form of life then it would surprise him.
He also believes that in order to find out which of these two possibilities would turn out to be true depends on whether humans can comprehensively answer the question his research has put forward.
That question is whether low mass stars can support complex life.
On a positive note, Loeb believes that according to his thinking, we as a species may be a few decades away from finding out the answer to his question.
Therefore, we won’t have to wait for another 10 trillion years. Is that supposed to be good news?
Well, if scientists are simply able to sample the atmospheric conditions of the planets that orbit these low mass stars, then it would help other researchers to investigate the data for biomarkers which indicate whether those planets are habitable.
On the other hand, if scientists keep discovering planets that are completely devoid of atmospheric signs that could lead to life at some point in future, then it would become clear that planets orbiting low-mass stars are sterile.
Reasons could include intermittent solar flares and other unknown attributes.
However, if any of those planets do show signs of developing potential complex life then that would simply mean that humans evolved on earth way too soon to witness any other complex life.
All of these theories are false and humans may very well be the center of the universe in terms of intelligence and rarity. And that there may be other forms of life on distant planets but those are likely to be as complex as a cat or a cow.
At the moment, all signs indicate that humans are probably alone. Forever.