Are We Alone?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

What is it

News that life might exist or have existed on Mars or somewhere else in our universe excites many. But should we really be happy to hear that news? What are the philosophical implications of the possibility of extraterrestrial life? If life can blossom in our own cosmic backyard, then that means that the universe is most likely saturated with life forms. And if that’s the case, why haven’t we found any evidence of other civilizations? Is it because all civilizations are prone to suicidal destruction at a certain point in their development? If so, how might we avoid this fate? The Philosophers search for life with Paul Davies from Arizona State University, author of The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence.

Comments (3)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 -- 3:08 PM

Are we alone? It depends on

Are we alone? It depends on how we define alone. We are alone, inasmuch as any intelligence we may ultimately have contact with is probably eons ahead of us, and not truly interested in contact with primitive civilizations. I am sure Davies and others have turned this over in their minds a few dozen times. We are not alone in the human sense---we ARE alone in the non-human, super intelligence sense. I have read Davies and found him lucid. Enjoyable. To assume that we are the epitome of intelligence in the known universe is absurdly anthropocentric. But , hey, that is what we do, right?

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 -- 10:03 AM

I have written a short essay

I have written a short essay in which I considered this topic in greater detail. The central feature of the piece examines the long-debated question of whether there is, or ever has been life on Mars. The treatment is both serious and humorous and I raise the obvious (to me) questions regarding how life on Mars might look, considering the relatively cold climate it must have; the absence of an oxygen-rich atmosphere; and the likelihood that its water is bound up as ice, and not much of that. I even go so far as to speculate a different level of heat from the Sun, in some distant past, and whether a Martian civilization once arose, developed and prospered. My conclusions, in short, are not favorable towards Martian life, even if such once existed on the Red Planet. My short hypothesis: Maybe we ought not spend money, or, potentially, sacrifice lives, in pursuit of colonization. A famous line from one of the dinosaur movies (uttered, I believe, by Jeff Goldblum) was: life will find a way. Maybe so. Sure, heat tolerant tube worms and other aquatic life live and thrive near black smokers and undersea vents. We know this and it drives our imagination. Perhaps too much. Mars is not a Goldilocks planet. In only the most remote science fiction would it have ever been. We need to look elsewhere---seems to me...

William Pennat's picture

William Pennat

Saturday, May 19, 2018 -- 6:35 PM

Life on Mars

My favorite fantasy in this regard is this. Billions of years ago, colonists from another star system arrived at ours. At the time (this is a known fact), Mars was actually more habitable than Earth, with a much thicker atmosphere than today's, surface water, temperate climate, etc., etc., and so they settled there instead of here. They even tried their equivalent of terraforming though ultimately it didn't work and, after thousands of years, they gave up and left for parts unknown. (If they were still around, we would know it!) But they might well have left behind artifacts which are still standing. No, not the famous "Face" (which likely is a natural formation) but things like an entire field of perfect tetrahedra. (This has actually been photographed from orbit and, of course, explained away as a "natural formation" by NASA, though how that could be is a mystery to me.) So anyway. Food for the time-travel novel I'll probably never write -- "The Martian Spring of Mrs. Stone".....

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Paul Davies, Professor of Physics, Arizona State University

 
 

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