In Scientific American January 2018, Steve Mirsky quotes a German astronomer saying that 14 years ago “…we would find E.T. within two dozen years.” That person is now at SETI in California, noticing that it will be necessary to view “at least a million star systems” to find life
elsewhere. The search is funded: Break-through Listen was established in 2015, and the debate is on: Do we want to send out messages or just listen, not revealing our presence to any more advanced civilizations. Or is it too late?
Mirsky suggests that “I Love Lucy” is already out there, on its way to alien ears just a little more technically advanced than we are. It is true that we are accumulating more and more evidence that life is probably “commonplace in the universe.”
That phrase can be found in a report in The Week magazine Jan. 12, 2018, confirming that life on earth emerged more than 3.5 billion years ago. J.W. Schapf of U.C.L.A. and the University of Wisconsin-Madison now has proof of diverse fossils that old. He compared the fossils’ carbon isotopes with surrounding rock, proving that diverse primitive organisms existed prior to Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere. The assumption is that life began very early on earth—some early critters doing photosynthesis, some producing and using methane.
The more we find how inventive life has been on Earth, the more likely that life can find a way to evolve elsewhere, probably on exoplanets. Science News (Dec.23, 2017/Jan.6, 2018) describes, a full page of intriguing new finds on Earth: RNA editing in bearded dragons that
changes male embryos to females, Antarctic sea spiders living below ice whose legs digest meals and pump blood and oxygen through their body, naturally fluorescent blue-green frogs, brainless jelly fish that sleep, hydras (pond polyps) that regenerate heads and tentacles using
mechanical and multicolor cures, and water bears’ (Tardigrades) withstanding “extreme temperatures, intense radiation and the vacuum of space.”
Something to fear from all these weird and simple forms of life? Probably not. Tiny life may be a lot more common in the universe. It takes a lot of energy and good luck to make complex living beings as large as us humans. There is also a real question to face–about how long it takes and how lucky a planet needs to be to develop complex beings that could build spacecraft and threaten us “primitive humans.” It’s also a long long way—in terms of energy, time and distance—between stars. We haven’t been very realistic about space travel, but we sure do enjoy learning about the exoplanets in our universe—3500 already, and probably many more like Earth in “size, composition and temperature.” (Scientific American Dec. 2017) There are many more planets sailing about M. dwarf stars with long lives, giving life a good chance to find some way to be. Stay tuned to TESS, launching in 2018 to focus on 2.5 million “target stars” in the “entire sky.”
Author of The Archives of Varok
The View Beyond Earth (Book 1.)
The Webs of Varok (Book 2.)
Nautilus Silver Award 2013 YA
ForeWord IBPA finalist 2012 adult SF
The Alien Effect (Book 3.)
An Alien’s Quest (Book 4. Released Nov.21, 2016)
Excerpts, Synopses, Reviews, On Writing, Characters and More-
Reviews of significant books- www.goodreads.com/Cary_Neeper
How the Hen House Turns- www.ladailypost.com
Complexity, Bio, Bibliography and Links- caryneeper.com
Astrobiology- astronaut.com search:Who’s Out There
Cary's first novel and Webs of Varok prequel A Place Beyond Man was originally published in 1975 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, Dell, and Millington, London. Cary re-released A Place Beyond Man as an Author’s Guild Backinprint edition, now available from online booksellers. Its themes of sustainability and interspecies cooperation have now grown into new adventures for its human, elll and varok family as they travel the alternate 21st century Solar System in the five-volume Archives of Varok, coming from Penscript Publishing House in 2012–2014. Cary’s other works include two musical science fiction comedies “U.F.F.D.A.!” and “Petra and the Jay,” as well as newspaper and magazine articles, essays, short stories, and book reviews for The Christian Science Monitor.