Where Is Everybody?   Leave a comment

primordial_soup

The New York Times had an excellent article on the possibilities of life Out There.  You know, all that space that the universe occupies.  According to Carl Sagan, there was no reason not to expect life that was comparable to humans.  But if you asked the competition, evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, we were it.  Sure, it was reasonable to expect primordial soup in other locales, with perhaps a few vegetables thrown in for variety, but Mayr was steadfast in his beliefs that the chances for humanlike life anywhere but here was slim to nil.

Naturally, there’s also that school of belief that attests to aliens living among us, including the abductees who’ve been tested and probed.  Those unexplained sightings of strange ships hovering over dark highways in remote locations – that can’t be fake, eh? There has to be something real  under Area 51, right?  After all, why do they protect it so fiercely?

If you ask me, I’d bet the rent on life existing outside our little blue dot.  Compare it to the lottery.  The higher the stakes, the more players become involved.  Eventually, a number’s picked and a winner is paraded before cameras as the newest bazillionaire.  On occasion, though, there’s more than one winner, and regularly three or four.  I’m no mathematician, but what are the chances that several people will bounce into the local gas station, drop $20.00 on gas and another $3.00 bucks for a few Powerball tickets and all come out winners?  It happens.  So why not expect life on other planets?

Carl Sagan maintained that sound waves generated from TV and radio drifted out among the stars would signal to intrepid space voyagers our existence.  That was detailed in Contact.  Those sound waves possess properties that cause them to stretch and grow as they wander further from their source.  By the time those waves are detected, what discernible information remains attached to these signals would be challenging to interpret.  But then again, the right exoplanetary scientist might find them an intriguing prospect: thin signals meaning what?  A project to research, to turn heads into another direction to discover their source?  Our planet, uncovered at last?

What’s to say there isn’t a planet with inhabitants who share the dreams of finding others, only to be told the possibilities are so incredibly remote it isn’t worth a bother?

Here’s how I see it:  out there, far from Earth, a soul ponders what bioforms rose and prospered elsewhere in the abyss of space.  Technologically advanced to send out space probes, this soul launches a machine capable of seeking clues, if not evidence.  Time passes, the soul dies, but other scientists take this soul’s place and keep on with the vigil.  Eventually, the machine wanders so far away from its home planet that even its trail of crumbs grows cold.  After a great deal of time, the machine is lost to memory and passes into legend, but the language on the foreign planet evolves to the point where even the legend transforms into a mystery and eventually forgotten.  Meanwhile, life on that planet succumbs to its own evolution as its inhabitants face other issues that seem more pressing or trivial, but interest in further explorations has shriveled as it’s become necessary to focus on the lack of rain, food, or a dwindling resource that is elemental to the stability of life on said planet.  Or, life for the other planet’s inhabitants is fulfilling, and therefore interest plummets because all needs are met and exceeded.  Curiosity fades as the inhabitants indulge in The Good Life and place high importance cultivating perpetual happiness.

On a peaceful September morning, blue skies except for drifting patches of cumulus clouds, a flash streaks across the sky.  Whatever caused it crashes into a suburb of a medium-sized city, resulting in a fair amount of damage to both the landscape and the object.  Upon cautious examination, its solid core leads Earth scientists to believe it’s not merely silicon.  Placed in the hands of a particularly observant scientist, a barely imperceptible vibration reveals a secret only a sensitive hand would notice.  “Hey,” says the Earth scientist, “I think we got something here…”

No alien spaceships, no apocalyptical force, only a simple device, badly damaged and time-worn, offers a clue to a glorious civilization similar to our own, whose own culture is seemingly lost to the wastelands of space and disbelieving souls.

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