|Like many others I am sure... On a daily basis, for most of my life, and with admitted compulsion, I give deep thought to the following inescapable conclusion:
There are ONLY two possible ultimate outcome scenarios regarding SETI:
1. The Universe contains alien life - sentient beings other than ourselves - perhaps even abundant life, and perhaps even in myriad forms. Or,
2. We are all Alone.
Most of humanity believes scenario #1 to be true. But since, we (the public) do not yet have irrefutable proof -it must remain just that: a "belief". So far we just do not know, or are just not privileged enough to know for sure (which, if true, would be exceedingly inhuman, unfair and unethical!).
However, the most amazing, phenomenal aspect of this questions is that if EITHER #1 or #2 is true (and one of them MUST be), then it means PROFOUND consequences for Earth and Humanity.
If there are other intelligent beings "out there" then we have an obligation to know about them, perhaps make contact with them, learn from them, and allow humanity to evolve and perhaps be invited to join, initiate, or acknowledge the galactic community. If they are benign and altruistic, our species can evolve and progress and gain from such knowledge immeasurably. If they are malevolent or hostile, well... then at least we should be looking! Why? No defense is possible? Perhaps. But we can at least plan for such an occurrence, save our legacy - another reason to get colonizing ASAP...
But what if there are NO other sentient beings in the universe (doubtful)? Or what if (my hypothesis) the Earth and it's occupants are NOT alone, but life, especially carbon/water based life as we recognize it, is extraordinarily rare and precious and special. That is STILL a profound answer, for it means humanity must do everything possible to survive and perpetuate our species (something we should be doing anyway). Maybe we are NOT just one of many in the Milky Way Galaxy, but one of exceedingly few. Still a profound idea.
Consequently: We MUST take care of the Earth, care for and respect each other, and find ways to grow and prosper as the caretakers of our planet and our possibly very rare, very special sentient species. We must take care of ourselves. Our instinct for survival MUST extend beyond us as individuals, and to "us" as a steward and custodian of our selves.
Consider: The incredible vast resources that humanity expends on war, hate, selfishness, and waste -and trying to clean up our waste. What could we accomplish if just the global budget spent on ways humans can kill each other is directed instead at the potential wonders in exploration, sustainability, and knowledge? We should be spending our time, energy, and resources to explore the galaxy, establish colonies and outposts, and expand to new frontiers, learn what's "out there". It's a big Universe - Let's go already!
We should also clean up our act at "home". In our headlong dash toward "progress", we've made a mess of things here... We're not caring for our tiny blue water-jewel very well...
1 or 2? I don't know. That is why I am here. You and I must carry on with a bit of satisfaction in doing our own small part to at least participate in the search for the answer to which of the two scenarios above is the correct one. I wish I could do more...
The consensus on this planet seems to be, among those that study such things, as well as the general populace, that the first answer is correct, indeed the Galaxy, and the Universe indeed, MUST be teeming with life, right? Probability points that way. But I can't yet say yet for sure. Collectively humanity can't seem to say yet, for sure. I am not yet 100% convinced.
Admittedly: Conceit and bias may be tugging at my conscience, preferring instead a scenario where Earth is actually a very special, very rare, blue-green jewel of a planet. Floating and spinning way out here, on the outskirts of a spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. A watery gem with a magnificent variety of ecosystems and teeming with myriad life forms -millions of species of flora and fauna, and -with one particularly odd creature that has evolved into a self-aware, but amazingly diverse sentient being - we've named it Homo sapiens sapiens. But WHO are we? HOW did we get here? Are we ALONE? If so, we MUST know why! If NOT, we MUST know that as well. There is no more important question for humanity.
How can we possibly be so special and unique, if that is the case? The problem we have is that, as a sentient species, when contemplating "others" we have little more to go on than a few primitive, rudimentary instruments of our own technology, and, an unreasonably mutual dependence on assumptions we make on the unknown variables of Drake's famous equation. In my view, some of those assumptions we make in that equation are very misguided and unreliable. Making guesses at the numbers is all we can do, of course, but I'm inclined to believe that a very unique and irregular set of circumstances arose with respect to Earth's formation and development.
Nevertheless, as many attest, the sheer numbers indicates millions of likely "Goldilocks"-planets. Perhaps. Then, as Enrico Fermi, asks, "where are they?" Already here, and have been here for millennia? Possibly - but the world community, as a group, has not yet been privileged with that confirmation.
SO, which is it? All alone, or among many?
My dream, my life quest, is to know that answer - definitively - before I leave this physical Earth forever...
SETI is helping me do that, and for that I am grateful for the opportunity...
|Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
|I said it all above...
Thanks to the SETI organization, the SETI community of validation-seekers, and to the privilege of being able to even ponder this most-important-of-all enigmas (and for being given the honor to participate in the search...)
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