This whole concept of “is there intelligent life somewhere out there?” and “is it just us in the universe?” is one that is able to spark lots of debate, especially within the scientific community.
This article explains Alan Stern’s possible explanation that references the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox is essentially something that is looking for the answer to the question “where are all the aliens?”. Alan Stern makes very valid points in his reasoning because when you think about it, the earth is so young in comparison to the rest of the universe. And it’s also important to keep in mind how vaste the universe actually is. The main point of this article deals with a topic that has been brought up many times in the course.
Astrobiology is essentially the study of life in the universe. A more specific definition would be that it combines the sciences in order to understand the formation, evaluation and future of life, not only on earth but all throughout space. There is a lot of emphasis on finding life as well as a big interest to find a new place to live, apart from earth. This article attempts to provide an explanation to a few of the questions pertaining to astrobiology and where intelligent life could be found in the galaxy.
As mentioned in the article, intelligent life could be found deep in buried oceans. The lifeforms in said ocean would be protected because it is cut off from the surface. Through our research and understanding of how our own planet works (as well as others in space), we know that life is able to thrive in very harsh and challenging environments which includes deep inside the earth’s crust as well as at the bottom of the ocean.
In the course we learned that some possible places that could support life are Mars, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Three of which are specifically mentioned in the article. The main reasons why these are seen as options is because water can still be found underground.
Although, the existence of life isn’t only dependent on water, but also molecular bonding, conditions on the planet, temperature and distance from a star etc. One of the main points that helps to support this explanation deals with this idea that because buried oceans are so far underground these lifeforms live in a much more stable environment where they are given more time to evolve (simply because they are protected from everything that is only able to affect the surface of whatever planet/moon they are living on). I found this to be a very plausible reason.
Mainly because in the course we learned a lot about sun activity like solar flares, coronal mass ejections as well as supernova (in which once iron has formed in the core of a high mass star it will have experience a large explosion). All of these (and many more that we learned about in class) would help contribute to having a very harsh living environment on the surface, making it difficult for life to not only form, but evolve into a more complex form with intelligence. Unlike earth, these planets or moons might not have a magnetic field or atmosphere that would help to protect these lifeforms from surface damage. The earth receives protection from the magnetic field in reference to solar winds and charged particles, whereas without an atmosphere or magnetic field the planet/moon would receive the brunt of everything.
By forming and living in buried oceans the lifeforms are actually given a chance to grow and evolve. Despite all these plausible reasons to support the explanation of aliens living in buried oceans, we did briefly discuss in class how something like that may not be completely possible. As I previously mentioned there are certain requirements in order for life to exist.
One of which is molecular bonding and variety. Despite having water in the buried oceans, there is apparently a lack of molecule variety and complexity. This essentially means that it is not enough to support very complex and intelligent lifeforms like the ones that we are searching for. The article also brings up an interesting point that wasn’t one my mind would have first jumped to.
Because these life forms are so far underground, they may not have any idea of the stars and the galaxy. They may not be attempting to search and communicate communicate in the same way we are. This concept is not so much based on the scientific aspect, more so the logical side that is still just as valid.This article isn’t trying to produce a complete answer to the Fermi Paradox or the question of intelligent life in space, and after all this additional research as well everything I’ve learned in class, it is hard to say exactly if there is a true answer to the question. It may just be something that must be waited out over time, or until technology becomes more advanced. Certain technological advancements could potentially help in seeing things that may be broadcasted at a lower frequency (as explained in the article).
This explanation and what the article discusses is simply meant to bring into play another option while humanity continues to look for intelligent life. Alan Stern’s theory of buried oceans is one of many that have been made about the possibility of intelligent life existing somewhere out there, but in my eyes, only time can really tell which of these theories, if any, will turn out to be true.