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The Possibility of Other Beings in Our Universe

The Possibility of Other Beings in Our Universe

The view of Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch mathematician and physicist who discovered Saturn’s moon Titan in 1655, was as follows:

Now can anyone look upon, and compare these systems (of Jupiter and Saturn) together, without being amazed at the vast magnitude and noble attendants of these two planets, in respect of this little pitiful Earth of ours? Or can they force themselves to think, that the wise Creator has disposed of all his animals and plants here, has furnished and adorned this spot only, and has left all those worlds bare and destitute of inhabitants…or that all those prodigious bodies were made only to twinkle to, and be studied by some few perhaps of us poor fellows? (qtd. in Sagan, Cosmos 130)

Millions of dollars and many brilliant minds have long been dedicated to unlocking the great mysteries of the universe. Perhaps the greatest mystery is whether or not life exists on planets other than Earth. Plato, Epicurus, Isaac Newton, and Benjamin Franklin all shared a belief in extraterrestrial civilization (“Search” par.10). Due to newfound understandings of the size and complexity of the universe, the current knowledge of life and its ability to thrive in even the most extreme circumstances, and lack of a reasonably unquestionable skeptical view, the answer to “Are We Alone?” is undoubtedly “no.”

The sheer size of the universe presents unlimited possibilities for extraterrestrial life. There are an estimated one hundred billion (100,000,000,000) galaxies in the universe (“By the Numbers”). The Milky Way galaxy, which houses the solar system that is home to Earth, is some 100,000 light years across (1 light year is equivalent to 5.9 trillion miles). It contains approximately four hundred billion (400,000,000,000) stars (Chyba par.18).

Among the factors used to determine how suitable a star is for supporting habitable planets are energy, gravity, and life spans of these stars as relative to time necessary for the evolutionary process to take place (Brownsberger). There are seven main spectral classifications, including (listed from hottest and largest to coolest and smallest) types O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. Types O and B, which make up less than two percent of the four hundred billion stars in our galaxy, are the only classes believed to be incapable of supporting life (Zubrin 232). Type G stars, the same type...

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Category:   Science

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