From the young to the old, there have been debates and arguments, discussions and fear about the co-sharers of our Universe. But in spite of sending the Voyager Golden Records and listening for transmission signals from other civilizations, conclusive evidence about extraterrestrial life is yet to be found. Jill Tarter, an American astronomer and former director of the exploratory science SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) tells why.
Tarter says that over the past 60 years, search for extraterrestrial life has become more effective because of the development of computing technologies and better telescopes. But, best of all, scientists have found out that planets are more common in the Universe than previously thought. This means, by finding out which planets are more similar to Earth, search for life can be focused on them.
But Tarter cites two factors as the biggest impediments in finding intelligent life in the Universe. One is the fact that the Universe is so vast and only a minuscule part of it has yet been explored. It is equivalent to examining just one glass of water from all the Earth’s oceans combined, she says.
The second reason according to Tarter is the inadequacy of the physics and technology of the 21st century. In her words, “We may not have invented the right way to do this yet.” But, since technology is constantly improving, search will soon become more effective and efficient, she adds.
On the question of what will happen if aliens visit Earth, Tarter differs from Stephen Hawking who has said that “the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.” Tarter thinks that, since evolution has made humans kinder and gentler, any intelligent life progressive enough to have developed the advanced technology to visit Earth will be peaceful and friendly.
“But no one can really know. This is all speculation,” she points out.
But if aliens do reach our doorstep, it signifies that they have technology considerably advanced than ours.
According to Tarter, this means they will set the rules!