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Friday, April 10, 2020

Columns

Is there sentient life on Goldilocks?


Admittedly, while reading about scientists discovering another planet that was habitable for life near (relatively at least) Earth, it made me giggle like a schoolgirl after her first kiss. The Goldilocks zone was named such because according to NASA scientists “the atmosphere – it’s not too hot, or not too cold, it is just right for life to occur.” (Science fiction nerds, rejoice.)

But before you start preparing for our alien neighbors by wasting money on welcome signs or (if your view of aliens is influenced more by the Halo video games ) weapons and ammunition, one must consider what kind of life we could possibly be facing.

We have to ask a question about the planet and the nature of life there: Are the inhabitants on that planet sentient?

Scientists have found several planets and moons that theoretically could hold life, such as the new planet, Gliese 581 g (the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), Europa — one of Jupiter’s moons, and a planet that could possibly have once held life, such as Mars.

The fact of the matter is we have never been contacted by anything sentient. We have not heard any signals from space, and we have not seen anything substantially real, despite what people whom have claimed to be abducted by aliens and UFOs say.

The most scientists have come to expect of life on other worlds nowadays is that they could be small bacteria at best, with some flora here and there. But finding these life forms would be nothing short of extraordinary, for they would be the stepping-stones to something more intelligent.

Something a little more like us humans.

Mankind has had an obsession with the stars and what might lie beyond.

We’ve mapped and observed them since ancient times — and more importantly, we’ve listened. And while we haven’t exactly heard anything from our neighbors, if we have any, the universe is a big place, and some of us have high hopes.

The new movie “Skyline” warns of the downside of intelligent life forms by reminding everyone of a Stephen Hawking (one of the most brilliant scientists alive) quote in regards to this kind of contact with alien life: “it won’t work out for us.” Hawking actually stated that instead of looking for life to find in other places, mankind should avoid trying to contact them.

He has compared it to Christopher Columbus landing on the Americas, an action that it ruined the lives of the native people living there.

This suggestion relies on the school of thought that has us believing that any aliens we encounter would be maligned toward us.

This is something of speculation and also great mystery.

All in all, if the Goldilocks planet does indeed contain life, it isn’t likely to be advanced in the most generous sense of the word. But it will be life nonetheless, and that’s something.

Ian Everett is a creative writing freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


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