I have recently given some speeches in connection with my Toastmasters International membership. Some are related to running, and some are not. When possible, I will publish the speeches. This is one of them.
Where is Everybody?
What scientific discovery will be more profound, more efficacious to our daily lives than detection of other intelligent life in the universe? Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? If so, why haven’t we been able to make this discovery already? In short, where are they?
Is there intelligent life on earth?
Anyone following our presidential elections may wonder about this.
Like it or not, we are advertising our presence by our transmission of radio waves. For nearly 100 years, we’ve inadvertently transmitted our radio and tv broadcasts as an ever-growing sphere from our solar system. These waves have now reached any planets of stars as far as 90 light years away.
We have also made some conscious attempts to specifically announce our presence – we’ve made specific broadcasts, and we’ve sent messages on the Voyager spacecraft.
Is there extra-terrestrial life?
Scientists are pretty sure that life needs planets to live on, but as far as we know, there’s no life on the other planets within our solar system. What about planets circling stars other than our sun? The first exoplanet was confirmed in 1995, and since then several thousand have been discovered. Most do not appear to be able to harbor life, but a few may be of the right size and in a habitable zone.
Does life always evolve into intelligent life?
Just because a planet may be able to harbor life, does that mean that life would develop there for sure? There have been some basic experiments showing that the building blocks of life do develop spontaneously when conditions are right.
Even if life does develop and evolve, would it necessarily become technological? Dolphins and Chimpanzees have highly developed brains, but did not become technological.
What is the lifespan of technological species?
How long do we think our civilization will last? Will we destroy ourselves in a flash, as in war? Or possibly destroy our own ecosystem? How long would other technological species live?
Are we listening?
What are the chances are that the distances may be too vast for in-person visitation? What about radio waves – why can’t we detect those from other civilizations? We are trying! The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) does listen in. The best scenario would be a specific broadcast to provide a key to understanding the message, and then to say who and where they are and finally to say hello.
But Where are they?
Given the billions of stars and planets out there, why haven’t we heard from them already? Even given the vast distances, why don’t they just come over? If they prefer to stay at home, why don’t they just send a radio signal to say hi? Or, like us, say something even without intending to? Here are some possible reasons:
1) We really are alone. We’re the only intelligent species anywhere.
2) Everybody is listening and no one is talking. Maybe on purpose. (Prime directive)
3) We just haven’t found them yet! The discovery is right around the corner.