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Notes on extraterrestrial life Notes on extraterrestrial life
by Joseph Gatt
2020-11-08 10:58:38
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Notes and speculations on the existence of extraterrestrial life, in no particular order.

-The general assumption is that the universe is made up of planets made of rock and stars made of helium (let's call it fire to keep things simple) and nothing else.

-That is the general assumption is that there is not living organism in the universe. By living organism I mean organisms that live in society, reproduce, and function within some kind of planet or in the heavens.

-Science fiction tends to portray aliens or extraterrestrials as humanoid creatures that are about the same size as human beings, have the same morphology as human beings, and travel around UFOs that are roughly the size of human automobile or perhaps an airplane.

spac01_400-Science fiction gets a lot of things wrong. First of all, if there were extraterrestrials, the odds that they be the same shape and size as human beings are very, very, very infinitesimally low. They would either be a lot bigger than human beings, or a lot smaller. Their UFOs will either be a lot larger than any plane, or a lot smaller than even a toy car from a McDonald's Happy Meal.

-The United States press runs stories on a regular basis about people claiming they were “abducted by aliens.” Those people swear that they were abducted by aliens on a UFO, taken to a distant planet, and then brought back.

-This is very likely to be what psychiatrists call “dream-reality confusion” which is a very real case where you have a bad dream (or a good dream) that looks so real that when you wake about you are 100% sure it was reality, not a dream.

-I had the dream-reality confusion experience once in my life, in July 1994 (and it still baffles me). I would swear that I woke up in the middle of the night, got out of the apartment, took the elevator, got out at the lobby, got picked up by the doorman asking me where I was going in my pajamas, the doorman stops me and asks me to wait, calls my foster parents, my foster parents tell him to tell me to come back up, I go home to my foster parents, they order me to go back to sleep.

-When I woke up from that dream (that I was convinced was reality) I was waiting for my foster mother to bring up the incident over breakfast. She did not, which made me think she was so furious she didn't want to bring it up. So I brought it up, and she told me to shrug it off and that it was just a bad dream. I kept insisting it was reality, and was even more confused as I thought she was so offended she was denying the incident even took place.

-In sum, dream-reality confusion is a real thing, and that's usually what happens to those who claim they were abducted by aliens. Other dream-reality confusion common incidents involve people thinking they passed an important test (when the results did not come out yet) or that they received a visit, an email, a phone call, or saw a Tweet or Facebook message, or other strange occurrences that never took place, but that they are convinced did take place.

-The real questions about extraterrestrial life are the following (and I'll try to comment on the questions briefly):

-Do they exist? I have commented on this one in the past (unless it's another instance of dream-reality confusion haha) and have said that there's a good chance that they do exist. But if they do exist, they probably won't look anything like us or anything we're familiar with.

-Can we study them if we find them? This is a trick question... because we probably won't be able to visit their planet (living in the Himalayas or in any high altitude city is hard enough for us humans). Problem is that as humans we probably wouldn't be able to survive more than a couple of minutes on their planet. So we would have to send robots with cameras, but then gravity laws and thermodynamic laws are not the same, which means those robots with cameras often break really quickly.

-Can we get in touch with them? It's hard enough for me to communicate with the Chinese without an interpreter. So where are we going to find interpreters to communicate with extraterrestrials? Plus, the odds that they use complex communication structures is really low.  

-Can we live with them on their planet? Unless the conditions on their planet are optimal for human beings, chances are we won't be able to establish colonies on their planet.

-Can they invade our planet/live with us on our planet (like ALF or ET)? Chances are the conditions on our planet (gravity, atmosphere, oxygen etc.) would mean that ALF or ET would have frequent headaches, their muscles would atrophy, and they would be dizzy on our planet. Or they wouldn't be able to breathe, much less eat our food. So I wouldn't worry about an invasion or aliens living with us.

-If aliens do exist, how did they come to life? What is their history?

To answer this questions, I'd say that the chemical conditions on their planet, and how those chemicals evolved and interacted enabled their inception and evolution.

-Final notes: the universe is so vast that there probably is some kind of life form somewhere.

-An important note: we know a lot about geology. We know a lot about medical science. We know a lot of stuff about linguistics and society. And of course history.

-But when it comes to astrophysics, we know all too little.

-A lot of people assume that astrophysicists know everything about the universe, and that knowledge is huge.

-Truth is, you could write a 20 volume encyclopedia about society or history. As for astrophysics, one volume would probably be enough.

-That is most books about astrophysics are only 300 pages or so long. Not because the author is saving good astrophysics stories for later. But because there isn't much else to say about astrophysics, despite the presence of an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

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