‘Alien’ is defined as ‘a hypothetical or fictional being from another world’. For countless years, mankind has been obsessed with what lies above, whether in the form of deities or little green men in an unidentified flying object. And when science developed the technology that probing the universe was finally possible, Earth leaped at the opportunity.
The search for extraterrestrial life has been a popular subject for the past century, and yet it doesn’t feel like any significant progress has been made towards discovering Earth’s neighbors in the Cosmos. The scientific community is divided on why alien life proves so elusive, maybe because there’s very little that smart people agree on. But it’s a good idea to be well-informed on the possibilities by thinking outside the box.
Here are a few theories I’ve entertained over the decades.
Picture what a two-dimensional being would be like. It would be flat because it would lack depth. Its surroundings would similarly only be measured by length and width as well. A two-dimensional being would be unable to comprehend or even look upon a three-dimensional being such as humans. Now imagine how a four- dimension being would seem to us with our measly three dimensions.
When a scientist talks about dimensions, they most likely mean a set of numbers by which space is measured. In the case of three dimensions, the measurements length, width, and depth. Scientists are unsure of what the fourth dimension could be, though the most common hypothesis is time, meaning that these theoretical creatures exist out of a linear perception of time.
This theory posits that aliens do exist and may have discovered us, and they might even be more populous than us. They could exist in the same space that people do, but humans aren’t able to perceive or understand such a high level being such as that.
They Aren’t Anything We Recognize
In Terry Bisson’s short story They’re Made Out of Meat, two aliens have discovered the human race, while one tries to explain to its partner that humans are ‘made of meat’. It’s implied that the two aliens, and every other known species, is not made of flesh and bone but could instead be machines, bio-machines or any number of things incomprehensible to a human. The alien has difficulty understanding the concept, and it leaves a hollow feeling about the narrow way humans look for alien life.
The way used to search involves finding the things that humans need to survive. This makes sense, it is geared towards a human understanding of life, but it might not be the correct one. They might not require oxygen or water, and scientists don’t know if the only kind of life that exists is ours, and thus have not calibrated their searches for anything else.
Aliens could only be a stone’s throw away, and our definition of life could just be too narrow to include them.
They’re Ignoring Us
In They’re Made Out of Meat, the aliens look at humans (once they are done deliberating about what they’re made of) and decide to ignore them. Their job is to make contact with any life they discover, but they can’t get their heads around contacting a life form made of flesh, so they mark the sector as unoccupied and move on. So, what if aliens discovered humans decades or even centuries ago, and decided that they weren’t worth the effort of talking to?
That’s a little hurtful to the collective self-esteem of the species, but if a super-advanced race of aliens that had outgrown constant war and conflict looked at Earth, maybe it’s not unreasonable. Or, it could be like the Prime Directive in Star Trek, and they have to wait until mankind develops sufficiently. The downside to this theory is that it does not seem likely that any alien would think another type of life form is completely unremarkable.
Either way, they know humans are out here, and it’s a coin toss as to whether or not they’re watching.
We Haven’t Been Listening
The first primary method to search for alien life is to send radio signals out into the universe, hoping for a reply back. The second is through our latest technologies like telescopes, seeing planets and checking for things like water, an atmosphere, etc. That is our method of communication, looking and calling out if anybody is there, but it hasn’t yielded results, and that might be because they’ve been replying, and humans haven’t been paying attention.
Statistically, the current method is the best choice, but it could be that aliens have been trying to talk to humans for ages, and neither party has a compatible means of communication. Imagine if someone were trying to call you on a cell phone and all you had were smoke signals.
It is impossible to say if humans are the ones with the phone or the smoke signals in that scenario, but either way, everyone will feel silly when they realize they had been blustering around, doing it wrong the entire time.
The Great Filter
Maybe Earth isn’t the first, or rare, or has been doing the right form of communication, but it doesn’t matter, because every other life form that has ever existed in the galaxy is dead, and has been for a long time. That’s the Great Filter Theory, which I don’t really agree with, there comes a point in a
species’ development that they experience an Extinction Level Event, (ELE), and they are wiped off the map.
Earth has experienced five (and are in the middle of a sixth today), and humans have managed to come out of them, either through blundering into the right place at the right time or some natural advantage we didn’t know we had. However, if Earth was successful beyond all other planets, then that means much more failed. Perhaps Earth passed up the Great Filter years ago. Or, the more unsettling part of the theory, that Earth hasn’t passed the filter, but every other species has, and it will hit any day now.
That might just be worse than being stalked by 4-dimensional creatures.
Courtesy of whatculture.com
By T. Blank
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