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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are We Alone in the Universe?” Is the Wrong Question



THE CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO THE FUTURE.
FEB. 16 2016 7:05 AM
FROM SLATENEW AMERICA, AND ASU

“Are We Alone in the Universe?” Is the Wrong Question

The answer is almost certainly “no.”


universe.
Sure, any one of these stars could have a planet with lifeforms, but that’s not very likely.
agsandrew/Thinkstock
W
e’ve been asking ourselves “Are we alone?” for millennia. Greek philosopher Anaximander (circa 610–circa 546 B.C.) is credited with starting the discussion about “cosmic plurality”—the idea of multiple or even an infinite number of planets exists with extraterrestrial life.
This philosophical-turned-scientific question is still fashionable—but it’s time to stop asking it. The answer has always been staring us in the face. No. We are not alone. Of course, as a scientist, I cannot say this with 100-percent certainty, but experiencesuggests that this is the reality.
As with every astronomical discovery, once we have found one new object or phenomenon, we’re sure to find more. We have discovered one data point in the quest for life in the universe: Earth. The challenge after a first detection is to figure out how to find more efficiently.
Some phenomena are more or less common, but there is never just one—a single instance alone in the cosmos. After the first supernova was recorded in the year 1054, several more were observed over the next few hundred years. Then, more recently, came a flood of discoveries as dedicated telescopic searches have been designed to find them. Now we use supernovae to measure the acceleration of the universe and study how the elements created by stars are dispersed throughout the universe.
It was big news when the first exoplanet was confirmed orbiting a sunlike star. The first handful were discovered in the mid-1990s. Now, just 20 years later, the count is into the thousands. Thanks to the spectacular (and statistical) results of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, we now know that almost every star is likely to host at least one planet. Suddenly, it’s planets everywhere.
We’re now also discovering planets in the “habitable zone,” in which liquid water can exist on the surface. We discovered the first one in 2012. Three years later we’re up to 30 such planets, and the probable result of this explosion of discovery will be the confirmation of thousands. Statistics already tell us that roughly 20 billion planets might have the potential to host life in our Milky Way galaxy alone, which is only one of 100 billion galaxies in our universe.
For the past 30 years, the SETI Institute has been leading the effort for the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and it continues to improve its telescopes and experimental techniques.
What may be more promising is the search for biomarkers: gases in the planet’s atmosphere that are indications of past or present life on the surface of the planet. This is now possible with the discovery of transiting exoplanets—those that eclipse their star periodically, whose atmospheres can be probed when back-lit by the star. Astronomers are already trying to do this, and we will be greatly aided by the novel capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope, due for launch in late 2018. We may have conclusive evidence of some form of life elsewhere in the universe by the timeself-driving cars are the norm.
It is true that our search is completely guided by our understanding of ourselves on this planet, narrowing our ability to identify life elsewhere. But the near-certainty of life outside of the Earth should help us transition from “Are we alone?” to “What now?”
If we can move past the question and accept that the probable answer is “No,” then we can stop diverting our focus and resources away from the profound significance and overall benefit of such awareness. We can now limit the constant debate in our society about whether we should be funding the search for extraterrestrial life. Of course we should fund it. Of course we should invest tax-payer dollars. Of course this is a pursuit worthy of some of the best minds on the planet. Such investments in the scientific search for life elsewhere are absolutely necessary to understand life on Earth (and ourselves) by comparing biochemistries and to develop a generalized theory of evolution.
Furthermore, should everyone become fully aware that we are indeed not alone in the universe, there would be significant cultural and sociological ramifications for our society.
The sense that we are alone causes our viewpoint to remain narrow and individualized. If we knew we were one life form among many, I expect we would feel less divided. For example, right now you’re probably aware of many differences between yourself and your most annoying neighbor. But if you imagine the two of you in another country whose language you do not speak—you and your neighbor would suddenly feel close. The existence of a “them” changes the “us” forever.
When you know that you are all fundamentally one in the same, it’s much easier to connect to your neighbor, or the homeless person on the street, or that person on the airplane whose skin or passport is a different color from yours. Really. Once our differences are no longer the focus, we will become more comfortable with those who are different from us. Perhaps our political views will change, our cultural fears dissipate, and our treatment of strangers will improve, as we will have adopted a new sense of oneness. If you could zoom out and look at Earth as just one of many inhabited planets, the lines of our borders would blur, and the divisions of culture and religion would melt.
This may sound a bit cheesy, but it is actually an often-used scientific technique—to reduce “noise” by averaging over many observations and getting a clearer picture of reality without the distractions of the small-scale, irrelevant signals in our data. Similarly, I expect the excess details of our cultural and political divides are clouding our ability to see the big picture. And knowing that we are (almost certainly) not alone can be the pivotal moment to see our true collective self.
Earth as well as we do ours, knowledge of extraterrestrial life will provide us a new context for our planet both culturally and scientifically.
Let’s not ask “Are we alone?” but rather “What now?”
This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Evgenya Shkolnik is a professor in Arizona State University’s School for Earth and Space Exploration. She studies solar systems throughout the galaxy and their potential for habitability.

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SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH, ESPAÑOL, PORTUGUÊS

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MUFON

How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

ESOTERIC



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