Alex Davies’ Farce series begins with his verdict on extraterrestrial life in our universe.
There are billions of billions of other planets in our universe. It is a logical absurdity, and indeed farcical, to think that ours is the only one that has life… but it irks me that people look at me funny when I say that. As if I am the one who isn’t thinking straight.
But look at it through my eyes and see it as I do. All of these planets are just icing on the universe cake. If one single planet, Earth, (Gaia, however you know it) can create so many millions of different creatures, plants, organisms, bacteria, fish and trees, if one utterly insignificant little blue green planet can support so many things that respire (as that is the definition of life I was given in high school biology), then how shortsighted is it to say with conviction that this is the only planet capable of doing so?
Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t believe in those grey-green, long-limbed, big-headed aliens. I just think that by that definition, a colony of mushrooms on an asteroid would count as alien life. How can so few people see that?
It is frustrating that I am repeatedly called closed-minded by people who refuse to consider that idea, in all its irony. Yet, I hope that one day people will see that we are not so special, we may be the most advanced life ever to have lived – sure – it’s definitely a possibility (as is the inverse), but there must be something else somewhere… surely?
Life is a truly remarkable thing. I watched a documentary about life in the deep ocean in which David Attenborough took me on a journey to the deepest parts of the ocean through pictures taken from a deep-sea submarine. He showed me, two miles down, a lake that was under the sea. It was simple: the brine there was denser than the saltwater and thus created a lake, much like how oil floats on water. This lake had its own tide, it had its own shore, but most importantly, it had its own ecosystem.
I found this fascinating since a few years earlier I had been taught in school that all life on Earth needed energy from the sun and yet, this little lake two miles down harnessed no light energy from it. The creatures that fed indirectly from the sun could not withstand the pressures at that depth, so the life there did not feed on them. It appeared that little to no energy from the sun could make it to those depths, so what was consumed by the life there? The scallops and odd lobsters and crabs instead took their energy from sulphur that seeped into the water through little springs. This sulphuric gas would likely kill most life that you or I know, but these creatures thrived on it. Truly bizarre.
But is this alien? I would say that although an extraterrestrial is not from Earth, for all intents and purposes, yes, this deep-sea life is alien, or at least bolsters evidence for aliens. It survives off what kills us as it thrives in poison. If life can evolve in such conditions, not to be dependent on light energy or oxygen, shouldn’t this cement the belief that we are not alone in the universe? Again, I want to emphasise the point that it doesn’t mean other life is any more advanced or civilised than we are or even existent but it just means it could very well be.
Aliens don’t have to talk through telepathy and land their flying saucers in the middle of the American wilderness. They just have to be life forms that respire, that do not originate from Earth – bacteria, fungi, plant life. If that grows anywhere in the universe but on earth, and has not made its way from our Earth, then that is alien life. For humanity to suddenly realise our insignificance in a way most of us never have before would be a beautiful leveller in society.
What is the big fear about alien life? I really do not understand it. With such vast space and so many planets, an unfathomable collection of evermore varied conditions are obios throughout our universe compared to what occurs on this planet. We have found bacteria in arctic conditions, simple forms of life in underground caves, bacterium that can survive in almost any conditions we can create, severely radioactive nuclear reactor waste coolant, temperatures so hot a person would combust and pressure so great diamonds can form. However, if it didn’t originate on this one planet, then it is alien. Is that so hard to accept?
If the conditions are right on butter-zone planets, Amino Acids can form complicated strings. These string-proteins can develop life in staggering variation, from the blobfish and frilled sharks that are seldom found, to humans and cows. Life can fit any niche on this planet that has been found. Life is so varied and so amazing and yes, we are a mind-blowingly intelligent form of life compared to a tree, (well, most of us!) but that does not allow us the stubbornness to say we are the most intelligent or only intelligent life in the universe. Surely? That does not mean we aren’t, but that we could easily not be.
How anyone can be so arrogant as to believe that life cannot live outside of our atmosphere though; that astounds me. The evidence of its ability to thrive is so conclusive, that personally I call it a guarantee that there is something out there… but when I tell you that in my passionate, whisky-induced ramblings, when I try and explain complicated theories the simple way, do not call me ignorant if I refuse to accept the closed-minded alternative.