Alien Life? A comprehensive article….

July 18, 2008 at 6:16 pm (Astronomy, Uncategorized) (, , , )

One of the most widely discussed topic in astronomy, atleast since the 19th century is the speculation of alien life in our universe. I’m not a believer, but I did find the extent of research done on extra terrestrial life to be nerve wracking. So I asked some questions : What was the reason for such a huge following for ET? Is there really alien life, even on earth? Is Area 51really the place where the US government is covering up existence of alien life? These are just some of the questions this article will seek to unravel.

When did all this begin ?

UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) sightings have been taking place with alarming frequencies (at an average of 1 every 3 minutes). According to Wikipedia, the first sighting took place as way back in 1492 when Christopher Columbus, in the Atlantic Ocean, saw “a light glimmering at a great distance.” It disappeared and reappeared several times during the night. However, not much was made about this. Apart from this, there were a few isolated cases that sprang up around the world in the 1920s. In the 40s, however, there came about a resurgence in these “UFO” sightings, with such cases being reported at an alarming rate which continued till the late 80s. Many scientists questioned the authenticity of these sightings, as these sightings took place at around the same time when “Aliens” and “Extraterestrial Life” was a popular theme for most films. However, these controversies refused to die down and thus, extra terrestrial life is pretty commonly known today.

Why are scientists interested in alien life?

Man is a social animal. He needs to be in a society where there are other human beings in order to mingle and socialize with others. In the same pretext, a question arose among leading astrologers about other life forms. They wondered whether the humans were alone in this universe, or are there other creatures in our galaxies? Is there someone more capable,more intelligent than us? Would they be friendly or hostile? These questions led to scientists confidently asserting that there can and may be extra terrestrial life on other planets due to which they became interested in finding out the possibility of the existence of such creatures.

Can there be alien life on earth?

This question is a bit tricky as astronomers and scientists alike are unsure. The following are the most relevant examples which provide some answers to this question:

The Crop Circle Phenomenon is one of the most widely used facts to endorse claims of alien life. Such circles were observed around the world in the 1970s, where the crops on the field were in a pattern which resembles complex geometric figures which were claimed to be the work of alien life. Scientists rubbished these claims, citing that they are merely pranks to fool the public. Some even claimed that they could make crop circles themselves, and they were the ones who played the prank. Whatever may be the truth, this phenomenon has certainly fueled thoughts of alien life forms on earth.

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt is said to be a wonder of engineering, with historians predicting that during its hay days, the sides of the pyramid were said to have pin-point accuracy. What amazes historians is that they never concieved the idea of a civilization as advanced as this in the 2000 BC. Even this, however, as some groups believe, is the handiwork of alien life forms. They believed that human civilizations were not intellectually capable of building such wonders during that time period, and that alien life forms “supposedly” descended on earth and built this structure. Although historians (as usual) have rubbished these claims, there are a fair no. of people who think otherwise. This site provides some questions challenging the claims of historians.

The Nazca lines are another example used to endorse claims of alien life. They are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches more than 80 km (50 miles) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru. They are believed to have been created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, llamas and lizards. There are some groups that claim whether humans can make such creatures with minute details visible when only viewed at a distance above the ground. They claim that this also was made by aliens and is supposedly their landing strip.Whether or not this is true, this has created quite a stir.

Has anyone been able to find out where extra terrestrial creatures are?

This is still a matter of speculation.  As you may know, there was some “hoobla” created over life on Mars and other planets in the solar system in the 20th century till it was discovered that these planets cannot support life. However, the curiosity of the whereabouts such creatures remained. Dr Frank Drake came up with the Drake Equation which aimed at guessing the no. of alien civilizations our human race can come in contact with within our galaxy. This equation, which some scientists claim is too complicated and wierd (yes, wierd), is currently used to find out the no. of such creatures we can contact.

Are scientists able to contact alien life forms?

As I said, scientists have tried whatever method possible which they think is adequate for contacting extra terrestrial creatures:


The Pioneer 10 and 11, with which NASA have now now lost contact with, have been fitted with a plaque designed by Dr. Carl Sagan and Dr.Frank Drake, bearing a pictorial message from the people on earth in case it is (by chance) recovered by aliens. This picture explains the position of earth in the solar system, a brief description ( or diagram, more correctly) of the humans on earth and the relative position of the sun in the centre of the Milky Way. It is thought that if such creatures do get the plaque and decipher it, it may improve the chances of them contacting earth. Again, this practice had a fair amount of criticism. Even so, it is hoped that some day in the distant future, there can be a possibility of aliens contacting earthlings.

The Voyager Golden Record is another such attempt made by astrologers. A phonograph was included in the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. As given in Wikipedia:

It contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. It is intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or far future humans, that may find it.

Songs from all around the world (including India) and greetings (supposedly the word “hello”) in 55 languages along with images and a silhouette  of the plaque carried in  the Pioneers are the contents of this phonograph.

2)Radio Beams

Apart from the records and plaques that scientists have left for the aliens to find, other attempts were also made to contact extra terrestrials:

The Arecibo Message

This message, which consisted of various binary digits, was beamed into space towards the globular star cluster M13 (some 25,000 light years away from earth) from the Arecibo Radio Telescope in 1974 to commemorate 25 years of the Arecibo Telescope. The message, constructed by Dr Frank Drake and Dr. Carl Sagan, consists of binary digits which when seen in pictorial format (for our understanding), represent the following things:

  • Numbers from one through ten
  • The atomic numbers of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus
  • The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA
  • The number of nucleotides in DNA
  • The double helix structure of DNA
  • A figure of a human being and its height
  • The population of Earth
  • Our solar system
  • and an image of the Arecibo telescope with its diameter

This too aims at contacting alien life forms.

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