• Question: do you think there are aliens out there and if so why havent we met eachother yet?

    Asked by tara to Pete, Meeks, Stephen, Steve, Tom on 18 Jun 2010 in Categories: . This question was also asked by rhino2000, clifford1, caragh26.
    • Photo: Pete Edwards

      Pete Edwards answered on 15 Jun 2010:

      Hi Tara

      For there to be aliens they have to have somewhere to live, so the first question we have to answer is are there other planets out there beyond our solar system and are any of these like Earth?
      We have started to look at other stars in our galaxy and already we have found 460 planets out there! It would seem that for every hundred stars we look at we find one with a planet orbiting it. That means there are around 10 billion planets in our galaxy alone!
      I don’t know if there’s intelligent alien life on any of these planets but if i was to bet I would say there probably was.
      However, you ask why haven’t we met these aliens yet? That’s because even our galaxy is HUGE. The closet planet we have so far discovered orbits a star 20 light years from Earth. That means if you could travel at the speed of light you would take 20 years to get there! Our best spaceships can only travel at around 15 km per second which means it would take you around half a million years to get there!
      If there are aliens out there we probably will never get to meet them as the distances to their planets are far too big!!

    • Photo: Marieke Navin

      Marieke Navin answered on 18 Jun 2010:

      Hi Tara – I totally think they are out there! I think the reason we haven’t met them is because space is just so huge and vast, the distances are simply so great. I mean we haven’t managed to get out very far yet! The farthest distance we have sent something is the Voyager space craft which is at the edge of our solar system. Not very far in the grand scheme of things.

    • Photo: Tom Hartley

      Tom Hartley answered on 18 Jun 2010:

      Yes I do, because space is very very big, and I doubt that we are unique, special and different when there’s so much life teeming around in the little part of space we know.

      Why haven’t we seen aliens:
      i) I’m wrong and they don’t exist
      ii) They are unable or unwilling to travel
      iii) They are too far away to get here (this one seems very likely to me).
      iv) They have already died out (also likely, since we have only been around for a few hundred thousand years)
      v) They have not evolved yet (very likely, see above)
      vi) They are so different from what we expect that we cannot see or understand them
      vii) They have been here and we haven’t noticed, or disbelieved evidence we did notice.
      viii) Some combination of the above factors OR
      ix) Something else I didn’t think of.

      Now to decide whether there are aliens we need to test the ideas ii-ix above (although ix is obviously impossible). If none of the above factors is tenable, then I’d change my mind. Otherwise, I think I’d go with the original idea. There is a very strong pattern in the history of science of scientists being wrong because they thought that the Earth/humans etc. (us, the world we know) were unique and special – I don’t want to carry on with this.

    • Photo: Stephen Curry

      Stephen Curry answered on 18 Jun 2010:

      Yes I think this is likely. We’ve not met because neither of us has yet developed the technology to travel to other stars. They are simply too far away, at least for us.

      Humans have managed to travel 250,000 miles – to the moon. That’s nothing in inter-stellar terms. Even our deepest deep space probe (Pioneer?) has just left the solar system and that took something like 20 or 30 years.