Why do we ask?

By Laura De Siquiera

Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered “what if”? What if there is more out there? What if there is someone outside looking at us and we have no idea? Then you forget about it and go home, but you turn on the television, the radio, or the internet and there it is: there is someone asking these same questions: are we alone in the universe? Is there extraterrestrial life? But the larger question may be what compels our interest in this matter, why do we keep asking these questions?

There are so many wildly divergent points of view on the subject of extraterrestrial life, that the conversation is not only about those actual opinions but also the urgency and motivation for the inquiries in the first place. In fact, it could be argued that the conversation is more important than the answers, as is show in the KQED article.

My case study is in Brazil, focusing on why scientists are so vested in pursuing this question. In contrast with US citizens, Brazilians have a much more abstract way to argue, they say their point but they prefer to present both sides making it hard to argue and also hard to determine who is in the majority: the believers or nonbelievers. But one thing is certain: these scientists love to discuss. All scientist, from all of areas and specially the ufologists, proffesionals on the research of extraterrestrial life like these from Brazil. They like to sit and theorize about the question, to imagine and wonder, and calculate the possibilities, to find the logic in the unbelievable, and experiment them. Because in the end, that is what a scientist does.

When the question “is there extraterrestrial life?” comes to a scientist they answer with theories and philosophical questions. The most popular answer recently, according with is “ with all this sky, in the whole universe, I believe that is almost impossible for us to be the only form of life existent”. Although there are various theories and speculation on alien life, the interstellar dust theory and the collision of suns theory are the ones that attracted my attention because they were unusual and fascinating.

The interstellar dust theory says that there are tiny particles in space that may have fallen into Earth and other planets and initiated life. This theory suggests the likelihood of extraterrestrial life and also brings an interesting question: Why do we assume that to have life there must be earth-like conditions? Maybe, as Thomas Hobbes said “ humans are necessarily and exclusively self-interested”

The theory of collision of suns is a theory about how the stars and therefore the planetary systems were formed. Unlike the most accepted theory, the nebular theory, the collision of suns, says that the solar system was formed by the collision of our sun with another sun. One sun went very close to the other, pulling material out of it. Part of the materials returned to our sun, another part went away with the colliding sun , and yet another part was gravitating around our sun condensing itself and forming the planets. “A collision between stars is very rare. If this theory is correct, it is possible that our planetary system is the only one in the entire galaxy”, said Renato Las Casas, professor in the UFMG-Brazil.

Now why do they keep asking? They keep asking because there is no answer and they don’t want one. They want to look at this with more amplitude, with infinite potentials and outcomes and explore all the possibilities, they want the question so they can theorize about it, discuss about them, and do experiments about that, to keep researching. For example the group of Australian astronomers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne that were able to captured the world’s first live extraterrestrial radio burst, this was only possible because before, in 2007, the Parkes telescope had already captured a radio burst, but those wave signals weren’t live, they were discovered through archived data, so they they try to find a way to capture those burst live. And they did it.
As it shows in the news, all this information is very recent so they don’t know what caused it and because of that they are asking, trying to find a where and what, exploring. “Although most experts say a star might have emitted the bursts, Petroff said that either theory could be incorrect and that it could be something entirely different that sent those burst waves” write Alejandro Alba in the New York Daily News. scientist are motivated by questions, so there HAVE to be questions. The scientist don’t want an answer so they can keep questioning but most of all, like all the big questions the humanity have, to keep a mystery.

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2 thoughts on “Why do we ask?

  1. “Australian astronomers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne that were able to captured the world’s first live extraterrestrial radio burst, this was only possible because before, in 2007, the Parkes telescope had already captured a radio burst, but those wave signals weren’t live, they were discovered through archived data, so they they try to find a way to capture those burst live. And they did it.” Doesn’t that proof that they believe they had an answer; that aliens exist.

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