IS THERE SUCH A THING AS AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL? By Angela Baker There are a lot of thoughts and opinions on whether extraterrestrials exist in our universe. Often times when we hear the word “extraterrestrial” we immediately think of “aliens”. There are those that claim to have been visited by aliens, those that claim to have seen them and those that refuse to accept any thought of their existence because they can’t explain them. Almost everyone can remember watching the movie “E.T “ and smiling at the antics of the wide eyed alien and feeling our heart go out to him. Others remember watching “Independence Day” and watching the world as we know it being destroyed and we all felt a feeling of pride and excitement when Will Smith defeated the aliens, saving the world and proving that we are the “supreme species”. (IMDb Independence Day) When you consider our Universe and how many objects, stars and unknown area’s are out there that it’s realistic that a person could not say with 100% certainty that there are no other life forms within it and beyond. So after asking yourself do extraterrestrials exist and coming to the conclusion that you can’t deny the possibility the next question you would ask is, “ If they do exist are they the fun loving comical ET or evil marauding aliens from Independence Day?” Exploring this question is definitely something that everyone from the normal observer to world scientists are asking themselves and speaking about at times. Also the definition of an “extraterrestrial” can mean many things from the traditional alien to bacteria like organisms. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary an “extraterrestrial” is an adjective which is defined as “originating, existing or occurring outside the earth or it’s atmosphere”. (Merriam Webster Dictionary) We as humans normally think of an extraterrestrial as an “alien” with large eyes and a big head with a small body. According to British physicist Stephen Hawking he believes there are extraterrestrials but feels they are too dangerous to interact with. He compares them to Columbus discovering the New World and taking over Earth seeking their own New World. By the time they reach Earth Mr. Hawking concludes that they most likely have exhausted their own planets and are looking for somewhere with resources to support their existence. (Hawking: Aliens May Pose Risks to Earth) This theory is the “Independence Day” theory of thinking. A huge gang of marauding aliens bent on destroying the Earth using technology that is far more advanced than anything that we have available and we must then pull together to defeat this powerful enemy. According to a poll conducted from November 2009-January 2010 an average of 1 in 5 (20%) of adults from around the world believe not only that there are “aliens” that exist but that they have come down to Earth and are currently living amongst us. India has the most percentage of people that believe this to be true with 45% of adults supporting that thought. What is interesting about this poll is that it shows there is almost no difference in the belief due to economic status or marital status. Often times those that believe in “Aliens” are thought of as uneducated and of a lesser social status because the belief is not always supported or agreed upon. (Fahmy) There were some differences when you compared age ranges but this could be that as a person gets older they have more time to consider the possibility or in the case of American’s, their experiences with the government “cover-up” of Roswell in 1947. Another poll taken before “Independence Day” was released showed 80% of people believe the government is hiding something at Roswell, whether it be an alien spaceship, alien life forms or something else. (CNN: Poll U.S. hiding knowledge of aliens) Due to so much secrecy surrounding the Roswell Landing and the numerous stories that people have come forward with from Roswell it has turned into a tourist attraction. An entire lifestyle and economy has been based on the “E.T” theory. Everywhere that you visit in Roswell there is a hint of the belief that aliens really did land outside of Roswell with buildings, tourist attractions, street names and even the Roswell Chamber of Commerce has a city symbol of a flying saucer. (CNN: Poll U.S. hiding knowledge of aliens) This supports the idea that we as a population both in American and World Wide believe in alien landings. There are other forms of life that could be present in our Universe and beyond, these life forms would not make an interesting movie but must be considered with asking yourself is there extraterrestrial life. These are bacteria organisms which can withstand the harsh environment of other planets. The scientific community has found some examples of possible microorganisms that could survive in these environments here on Earth so the possibility exists that they are in other areas of the Universe as well. This possibility is also a way to explain how life on Earth developed. This hypothesis is known as “panspermia” which is where a small speck of life is transferred from a speck of dust to another planet and over the course of possibly billions of years transforms into what we know as terrestrial life. (Silverman) We do not have the technology to quickly travel through space or the knowledge of our ever expanding universe and there are many things that would take thousands of years have to be seen or discovered. There are many believers and many that doubt the existence of extraterrestrial life but it is a possibility scientifically. I agree with Dr. Hawking but in a reverse logic way, I believe we could be the marauding aliens. As we begin to degrade our planet with global warming and over population one day we may be forced to look elsewhere to sustain ourselves once our resources have been exhausted. We will then be forced to look for ways to survive on less hospitable planets or go to one that is similar to this environment. If we found life on that planet what would we do? The best option would probably be to live peacefully alongside the aliens as 20% of the world’s population believe that they currently do with us or we could attempt to take over their world. By taking over their world we are able to continue on with our lifestyle and future. This shows our superiority and self centered understanding of the world and supports my thought that many people that do not believe in “extraterrestrials” do not because they can’t wrap their thoughts around the fact that we are not the supreme being, there are other things living similar lives in this universe. Works Cited CNN: Poll U.S. hiding knowledge of aliens. 15 6 1997. <http://articles.cnn.com/1997-0615/us/9706_15_ufo.poll_1_ufo-aliens-crash-site?_s=PM:US>. Fahmy, Miral. Reuters: They walk among us. 8 4 2010. <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6374B220100408>. Hawking: Aliens May Pose Risks to Earth. 25 04 2010. 22 11 2010 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36769422/>. IMDb Independence Day. 1996. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116629/>. Merriam Webster Dictionary. 2010. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extraterrestrial>. Silverman, Jacob. How Extremophiles Work. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/cellular-microscopic/extremophile4.htm>.