Friday, July 01, 2005

Is There Life Out There?

Today I'm trying something new - I'm writing a general article! Why? Mostly because I'm jobless and have nothing better to do. I've never done this before, so don't expect too much. And don't ever complain if you fell asleep reading it.

If you're even a little curious, this question would have definitely crossed your mind at least once — "Is there life out there in space?" (if you're not, then let's assume it crossed your mind at least once). Now to me, the answer to that question is quite simple - there IS. Considering that the universe, housing billions of galaxies, is bigger than you can start to imagine, it's improbable that Earth is the ONLY planet that supports life. Besides, Earth-like conditions aren't even a necessity for life to exist — on the Earth itself, some extremophiles have adapted to living in extreme environments where other life wouldn't stand a chance. They're boldly going where humans dare not and cannot.

So if there is life out there, why haven't we come into contact with them? Simply because the universe is so immensely vast, and we have only explored an infinitesimally small portion of it. Our escaping radio and TV signals (called the radio bubble) get weaker and weaker as they move away from the Earth and eventually drown in the ambient radio noise of the universe. Just for the sake of it, let us assume that technologically proficient aliens are intercepting our signals and are managing to decode them. After watching 50 years of our television (if they have the patience) — all the K-serials, mindless comedy shows, news about the wars we started etc., they'd probably conclude that human beings are a dysfunctional bunch of idiots.

Then what about those signals (of our own choosing) we sent in space crafts like Voyager? Don't worry, at the rate they're travelling (50,000 miles per hour I think), they won't reach the nearby stars for another 100,000 years. Our propulsion systems are not suitable at all for space travel... sure a rocket is fast, but it exhausts its entire fuel in a very short time. Newer propulsion systems like the ion drive and solar sail are very efficient for long distance travel, but they're horribly slow.

So will we ever make contact with extra-terrestials? Of course we will. Just not yet. With the research work being conducted by organisations like SETI, it's only a matter of time till we do make contact. Their Seti@home (thanks for the link Ganeshan) is a program that YOU can run on your computer to help in the search for extraterrestial intelligence. Who knows? You might find an alien and become really famous! Or you won't find anything and you'll get so mad you'll uninstall it.

In any case, this article comes to an end here. I know I haven't really talked about anything you don't already know, but then again, I told you in the beginning not to expect too much didn't I?


Edit: I was finding links for some of the stuff I just talked about, and I came across this page — http://www.duntemann.com/fermiqsn.htm. Good question ;)

8 comments:

Suresh said...

That's a fantastic work done at first attempt.The quality of your articles will definiteley reach to a great height very soon.Keep writing.
Bye....

Varun said...

Thanks Suresh :)

Karthik Abhiram said...

Awesome article Varun!!

As you can make out, I now have Internet access at office.

Varun said...

Heh that was a total surprise K... didn't expect you to read it before me telling you about it :)

Shloka said...

Hey Varun...great writin.Dunno of d content..coz..im no spaco-geek.

Bt u do knw the way to express urslf..in words..n ur photos....mind-blowin..must say.

(Neways I left u a comment in ur 'last to last'..post.Chck out.)

Bye....keep on dat smile.

Varun said...

Thanks Shloka... I did read all your comments. And if I remember right, I even replied to them.

Ismaele said...

Great article, Varun! :) I was very interested in it, since I like topics like that.

Varun said...

Thanks Ismaele...

... and I thought nobody would be interested in reading this stuff :)