Anybody out there?

(published in The Speaking Tree, The Times of India – October 26, 2012)

etWhen NASA recently landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, the moment once again raised the age-old question, “Is there life in outer space?” The most logical answer is that there must be life out there considering the infinite nature of our known universe with its assumed 70 sextillion stars distributed across billions of galaxies.

Fermi’s Paradox
Either way you look at it – creation or evolution or both, as they are not mutually exclusive – there is no logical reason why Earth should be the only planet among hundreds of planets out there with life. Perhaps some of the 777 planets discovered so far outside our solar system have life. If so, why have we not found anybody out there yet? This question is referred to as Fermi’s Paradox. He asked simply, “If there is life out there? Where is everybody?” For life to be detected, communicated with and interacted with, such life needs to be more or less on the same rung as we are on the evolutionary ladder.

When you look at an amoeba with a microscope, the amoeba is blissfully unaware of that fact. Humans and amoebas are on two very distant rungs of the evolutionary ladder to have any kind of meaningful interaction. Other intelligent creatures on our planet like whales, dolphins, ants and bees are also promising in their forms of communication and their ability to build ‘cities’ in the form of anthills and beehives. But here again, we do not have any real way to communicate with them. Looking at these examples, if there is a lot of alien life out there in the universe and even if we find ‘them’, will we be able to communicate with them?

Then again, even if we do find other life out there, we will only be able to communicate with them if they are on the same level of evolution as us. If life outside Earth is too ahead or behind us on the rungs of evolution, we will be unable to communicate or detect each other. What if we are like amoebas for a more advanced form of life? Maybe ‘they’ are waiting for us to reach a certain level of spiritual development before they admit us into the ‘Galactic Society.’