On this week’s Dreamland, (and at last year’s Dreamland Festival), we addressed the question: “Is there anybody out there?” This refers not to whether life exists elsewhere in the universe, but whether it exists in other universes outside of our own.
Researchers Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez have formulated a provocative hypothesis known as the anthropic principle, which states that the existence of intelligent life imposes constraints on the possible form of the laws of physics. In other words, is alien life physically possible?
Jenkins says, “Our lives here on Earth (in fact, everything we see and know about the universe around us) depend on a precise set of conditions that makes us possible. For example, if the fundamental forces that shape matter in our universe were altered even slightly, it’s conceivable that atoms never would have formed, or that the element carbon, which is considered a basic building block of life as we know it, wouldn’t exist. So how is it that such a perfect balance exists? Some would attribute it to God, but of course, that is outside the realm of physics.”
If someone IS out there, they’re not talking (at least not in ways we can understand): SETI has been listening for radio signals for years but so, they haven’t gotten anything definitive. Maybe we’re listening to the wrong star systems or at the wrong wavelengths.
In New Scientist, Stephen Battersby quotes SETI’s Douglas Vakoch as saying, “Maybe everyone’s listening but no one is transmitting. Maybe it takes an audacious young civilization like ours to do that.”
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Art credit: Dreamstime.com
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