Life in Outer Space

Powerful Essays
Life in Outer Space

The answer to the above question is I don't know. This essay is not an

essay of answers because nobody knows the answer. What I want to do is

speculate. My speculation will be controlled and based on the

knowledge we have at present. Like all science, everything I say in

this essay could be proved wrong by a new theory or discovery

tomorrow. However, the path that we follow will be full of interesting

ideas that, I hope, will stimulate the reader.

The reason I talk about extraterrestrial life is because there is

strong evidence that all life on this planet has a common origin.

Chemically and genetically there are evolutionary links between all

organisms that more or less reflect the more traditional attempts at

linking them. This means, of course, that we have only one example of

life to study. This limits the number of conclusions we can draw. The

more examples of a phenomenon that you have, the more you can deduce

by comparing.

I know that there are many people who believe that UFO's represent

intelligent visitors from other worlds. In this essay I will assume

that UFO's are not intelligent visitors from other worlds. I may be

proved wrong tomorrow...

Definition of Life


The next thing to do is to define life. What is life? How can we tell

a living thing from something that doesn't live? Sometimes it's easy

(a tiger and a rock). Sometimes it's a little tricky. In fact, the

line between living and non-living is actually a very fuzzy one.

Viruses are very close to that line. Away from a host cell, most

viruses are crystalline solids composed of proteins. Within a cell,


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...h it are very

small. I don't believe that the Earth has been visited by spaceships

(either in the past or in the present). The search for

extraterrestrial life is probably one of the most important quests of

the century. Not finding life on the nearby planets doesn't prove

anything about how common life is in the Universe. However, if we did

find life (say on Mars or Titan), it would indicate that life was a

very common phenomenon in the Universe.

The discovery of extraterrestrial life would be the most dramatic

scientific, social and religious event in history. Many of our values

would change as we realise that we are not unique. Life would then be

a normal part of the evolution of the Universe rather than a special

event confined to Earth. The repercussions would reverberate over all

disciplines for many years.