For some reason, this kind of stuff has always fascinated me. When given an option over which science class I wanted to take in college, I jumped at the chance to take "The Universe, The Galaxy, and Extraterrestrial Life." And then, of course, I was even more thrilled when I found out the class would be conducted in the campus's planetarium.
For my final paper, I calculated the odds (based on a variety of variables, including but not limited to the size of the star, the position of the planet, how frequently we find planets orbiting stars, etc.) of there being extraterrestrial life in our galaxy. I can't remember the exact number, but after compiling my data, I came up with something similar to 0.00000000034% chance of extraterrestrial life.
I know that number is very disappointing to a lot of people, but the fact of the matter is there are a LOT of variables in having a life-sustaining planet that must be met with perfect conditions if we are to assume life sprung up the way science tells us. Now that's not to say I used all the variables in my research. In fact, I'd have to say my studies were rather optimistic and swayed heavily in favor of good odds. I only took into consideration star size, planet size, distance of planet from star, and odds of a Jupiter-like planet in the solar system (which is necessary as Jupiter acts like a vacuum, pulling meteors and asteroids away from us). Based on those variables alone, the odds weren't that great.
Still, it's nice to think about, isn't it? And there are plenty of scientists who maintain that extraterrestrial life is not just a possibility, but an undeniable fact. I haven't always been, but I can honestly say that I am now a skeptic. But I still like to write about it and fantasize about it much the same way I like to write about fairy tales of old. It's an interesting study into human belief systems. And I think more than anything, we need to nurture our creative abilities, and if that means envisioning glorious empires millions of light years away, then so be it.
So how about you? Are you a sucker for stories about alien invasion or distant alien civilizations? I know I am!
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