50 years of Is There Anybody?

Fifty years ago, in April 1960, an astronomer named Frank Drake He sat down in front of a telescope and began scanning the sky and collecting information in search of a signal that would allow him to confirm that there was life out there somewhere. Unfortunately his project did not last long and after a short time and in desperation he abandoned it with little or no results.

But it laid the foundation for what would be called Search for extraterrestrial intelligenceTHE SETI, which today celebrates its half-century of existence, on the one hand proud of its anniversary but without having been able to provide a single completely reliable piece of information on whether or not we are alone in the universe . Although at first it had a multi-million dollar budget from the United States government, this gradually diminished and today few remember, or know, that there is a group of people dedicated to answering a single question: Is there anyone here?

So far, more than 400 planets have been discovered orbiting stars that could harbor life, just as it has been hypothesized that there could be in so many other places, despite their slightly more unfavorable characteristics . The main problem seems to be whether we are really looking in the right place and especially at the right time, as pointed out by Wall Street JournalIf an extraterrestrial civilization had crossed the earth 50 million years ago, would there be a reliable trace of it?

The universe is so vast and so long-lived that the problem may not be “Where?” but the “When?” » and the “How?” » I also suspect that there will be a lot of theories and approaches to the subject that escape me from my perspective as a simple amateur of astronomy and the subject, but it is surprising how often it takes remembering how incredibly insignificant we are within space and especially within time.

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Apart, of course, from the appearance or characteristics that this form of extraterrestrial life might have. Because if Hollywood has accustomed us to thin beings with immense eyes, recently studies revealed that if there was life on certain moons of Saturn, Titanbeing based on methane, and not water, it would smell so bad and be so explosive that we could barely stand to be near it.

Yesterday I half-joked when commenting that a lightsaber is one of the discoveries I would like to see in the coming years, the certainty that there is extraterrestrial life, especially if it is intelligent, I don't I wouldn't hate it either. It would be a bomb of an unprecedented scientific level, which would lead humanity to question not only physical, chemical or biological questions, but which would also enter the domain of ethics, philosophy or religion and would open up a world of comparisons, discoveries and possibilities difficult to imagine.

Photo: io9

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