What would life on other planets look like? Over the years the possibility of there being alien life elsewhere in the universe has, from bona fide scientific investigation, significantly increased. The more we learn about our universe, the more intriguing the prospect grows.
Courtesy of NASA
Same as us or different?
Life will not exist on all planets, of course, indeed it will probably exist on an extremely low percentage. However, if there are planets similar to Earth out there, then the probability of life increases. But not necessarily as we know it, as just the smallest deviation in surroundings could make huge differences on life forms.
In other words; life could be remarkably similar to that which we already know. But the prospective differences are even more thought provoking. Major differences could arise from even small variances between the alien planet’s solar system and ours.
So variation is the keyword. We have a huge variation of life on Earth and there is no reason to expect it to be different anywhere else.
But there may also be examples of convergent evolution because there may be only one best answer to a certain problem – for example, two eyes for binocular vision, or an even number of legs for movement. But in general the random character of the adaptation process should produce extraterrestrial creatures very different from any that we know.
Also, it may be that many alien species are relatively primitive or have not reached the level of technological advancement necessary to communicate. They would be very difficult to detect unless you were actually at their home. To sceptics, the fact that only one species on Earth has developed a civilization using advanced technology supports the idea that technologically advanced civilizations are rare in the universe.
But really that does not matter if you consider the size of the universe and the number of celestial bodies within it.
The other point to bear in mind is the fact that alien races will possibly communicate in a totally different manner to ourselves.
So in all this, communication is the key.
For example, alien life forms could use different frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum as their principal visible means of communication. On Earth, some species are blind to light. Birds navigate using magnetic fields, bats use sonar, some fish use electromagnetic fields to communicate and even fight with each other. We have discovered some of these methods of communication only by investigative chance. Compare our vocals with those of whales and dolphins. Due to the different quality of the medium they live in, species will develop locally effective ways of communication.
The problem is, we could pass life right by. What we view as noise, or what we can’t detect at all, could be rich communication. Think of the pheromone-rich world in which some animals live … all of it is completely imperceptible to humans. Alien communication on a different planet could be unimaginably obscure!
Aliens approaching Earth:
And that is frustrating! But is goes to show it would take an extremely old and well developed civilisation to find and contact another one within the universe. Which means, if we are ever contacted on Earth, the aliens who do so will be light years ahead of us. And hopefully will have gained some mellowness with old age! More on this in a future blog.