At some point in our lives, we’ve all wondered about this, and it doesn’t help that the mystery is featured as the topic in many movies. No, it’s not Brad Pitt’s butt. It’s the question about whether aliens really exist, and if they did, what they’d be like.
There are tales of Area 51, government cover ups and alien abduction stories around the world that make up conspiracy theories for the existence of aliens. But there’s also a lack of hard evidence (that the public knows of) to conclude that aliens really do exist.
Or is there?
For all we know, we aren’t the only ones in the universe. There are more solar systems and galaxies out in the void that we haven’t discovered; we’ve hardly touched a corner of what’s really out there.
If we’re the only lifeforms in all of the universe, wouldn’t that be pretty lonely? In all of the planets we haven’t discovered, who are we to say that nothing is living on them?
With all of the unchartered territory in space, we can’t say for sure that there’s no other life out there. We can’t deny there’s no life on the planets we haven’t discovered, and the probability for extraterrestrial life outweighs the likelihood that we’re alone in the universe.
But this also leads to the question, that if alien life exists, would they be friendly? It’s a tough question to answer considering as far as we know, there’s been no contact with aliens. It would definitely be an awkward first meeting.
However, if aliens ever do come to earth, there’s no telling what outside diseases they could bring in. It would be like Columbus meeting the Indians; infecting the natives with measles, tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza and malaria. Now multiply that by 150 billion light-years.
In the words of Dr. Leonard McCoy, “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.”
Stephen Hawking has gone on to say that he believes it’s highly unlikely we’re in this universe alone.
According to Hawking, he believes that aliens would be more advanced than the human race. He believes they may have used up resources on their home planet and have come to harvest Earth for our resources.
Obviously, that’s not good. He advises that humans be extremely cautious if ever approached by extraterrestrial life, and an important way to counter aliens taking over is to expand our own reach in the universe by colonizing other planets.
While there is a possibility that alien contact wouldn’t be a bad thing, so far it’s the most likely scenario. The theories that suggest alien contact would be a benefit to society state that the extraterrestrials could be cooperative. There’s the chance they may help us advance as a race and develop more technology.
The discovery of aliens itself would be a major benefit; it would bring back the reputation of alien expert Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, commonly known as the guy from the aliens meme.
But even with these potential benefits, we have to assume that if there is alien contact in the future, it’s most likely the result of them coming here. That would mean they’ve mostly likely surpassed us in technology, and could easily use their technology against us.
So are aliens real? And if so, are they hostile? Should we be actively looking for more life in the Universe? What do we do when we find it?
There’s no telling when, or if, Earth will ever be contacted by aliens. But it’s safe to say that the potential risks of encountering aliens outweigh the benefits of searching for them.
Emily Jensen is a senior majoring in journalism.