The recent discovery of a planetary system thought to be more than twice as old as our own should make us reconsider whether an alien race advanced beyond our comprehension has already visited Earth – or maybe even remains here now, undetected.
That’s the pitch NASA scientist Silvano P. Colombano recently made in a research paper that recommends “a new, more ‘aggressive’ approach” to the US space agency’s search for extra-terrestrial life.
“Considering…that technological development in our civilization started only about 10K years ago and has seen the rise of scientific methodologies only in the past 500 years, we can surmise that we might have a real problem in predicting technological evolution even for the next thousand years, let alone 6 Million times that amount!” wrote Mr Colombano, who works at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.
“In light of these numbers, I think we need to re-visit even our most cherished assumptions (that) interstellar travel is impossible or highly unlikely.“
While distance and energy, and our own understanding of physics, makes such travel impossible for us, there is still plenty of room for “control of matter-energy and space-time” to have evolved in older societies, he posed.
Other assumptions that need to be questioned, he said, are that intelligent civilisations would be based on carbon life like us and that we’ll be able to detect them via our current method of scanning the cosmos for radio waves.
While it’s possible that a more advanced alien civilisation would continue to use radio waves to communicate, their radio waves could be packed with so much information scientists could be receiving them now and wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from “noise”, he theorised.
And a quick glance at the past 50 years of computer evolution on earth shows that “our form of life and intelligence may just be a tiny first step in a continuing evolution”, Mr Colombano wrote, suggesting that other civilisations might have shed the “carbon machinery” humans rely on for sentience.
He also suggested that NASA not put all of its energy into examining the so-called Golidlocks planets – those considered most similar to Earth – discovered in recent years.
“While it is still reasonable and conservative to assume that life is most likely to have originated in conditions similar to ours, the vast time differences in potential evolutions render the likelihood of ‘matching’ technologies very slim,” he said.
The paper encourages NASA to have more of an open mind to “speculative physics… with some willingness to stretch possibilities as to the nature of space-time and energy”; to direct technologists to look at “how technology might evolve… and symbiosis of biology with machines”; to have sociologists prepare us for what to expect from more advanced societies; and to take UFO reports more seriously.
“It seems to me that SETI has ignored (at least officially) the potential relevance of UFO phenomena,” he wrote, referring to the acronym for the “search for extraterrestrial intelligence”.
One of the reasons, he acknowledged, is “the very high likelihood of hoaxes, mistaken perceptions or even psychotic events”. But if scientists sort through all the “noise” with an eye for the “phenomena that cannot be explained or denied…we could start some serious inquiry”.