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Life in the Universe

In: Science

Submitted By pjsl
Words 2465
Pages 10
Prachi Sonani
Mr. Bal
Honors English 10
29 September 2014
Extraterrestrials in the Universe No one has seen the element ununoctium, but it does not indicate that it does not exist; in fact it is an actual synthetic element that has yet to survive for more than a thousandth of a second. All that is needed are scientists who can stabilize the element to survive longer. The same goes for extraterrestrials. Just because no one has found them, it does not prove they do not exist. Extraterrestrials are any form of life that does not originate, or did not originate from Earth. When people think of aliens, they imagine creatures like Megamind, E.T., and many others that they have seen on television or read about in fiction books. What people really forget is that life can be as simple as an individual cell, or a microbe; so when asked, without thinking, many people say they do not believe in the possibility of life elsewhere. Over the years, scientists have dedicated a significant amount of their life looking for any type of evidence. There is a great possibility of extraterrestrial life existing on other planets as is evidenced by the history of the universe, the extant research, and the expanse of the universe. The past of the universe substantiates the possibility of aliens living on other worlds. In order to find the proof of life, the scientists have intensely studied planet Mars. About 16 million years ago, the collision of an asteroid with Mars blasted martian rocks in space; Earth’s gravity attracted one of these rocks and it landed in Antarctica. The rock sample from Mars was named ALH84001. Attached to it the scientists found, “fossilized (stone-like) microscopic shapes that strongly resemble living and fossil Earth bacteria” (Nardo 26). It is actually possible that the rock could have contained the bacteria from Mars. The reason is the fact that Mars used to be much more hospitable when life on Earth first began. In 2002, researchers conducted a test to resolve the dispute on the ALH84001 rock sample. The test results suggested that some of the fossils on the ALH84001 were of alien bacteria. The bacteria from Mars may not have survived and died during the journey, hence how the scientists found the fossils. However, it is also probable that the bacteria might have survived the journey, as some scientists believe (Editors of Scientific American 112). The microscopic shapes contain carbon compounds and organic molecules that are the basis of life. Conjointly, they found compounds, like iron sulfides and magnetite, which are produced by anaerobic bacteria or microscopic organisms on Earth (Nelson). The compounds were found near ALH84001 meteorite sample and the bacteria fossils that it contained. The rock landed on Earth a long time ago, so the survived bacteria could have reproduced and may have been the reason to why the fossils found on the rock resemble bacteria from Earth. If life came to procreate on Earth, then originally there must have been life on Mars. In addition to Mars, Europa is another celestial body that provides support for life. Europa is the sixth largest moon in the solar system and is capable of aiding alien life. This moon, that orbits planet Jupiter, is smaller than the Earth’s. Carbon, energy, and water in liquid form are some general prerequisites of life anywhere in the universe. In 1995, NASA’s Galileo Spacecraft showed the evidence of liquid ocean under Europa’s icy outer shell (Nardo 28). There is more water on Europa than there is on Earth. The immense availability of water in liquid form advocates the existence of alien life. Also, there is a lot of geothermal heat that radiates from Europa’s warm core. The geothermal vents are energy sources with the ability to support life as they ooze out hydrogen sulfide, which provides energy to drive metabolic processes in bacteria ( There are geothermal vents on Earth at the bottom of the planet’s oceans where single celled Lithoautotrophic microbes live (Nardo 28). If there is proof of these organisms existing on Earth, surely ones similar to these must exist in Europa; after all, Europa satisfies all requirements of life. Moreover, Europa may have multi cellular organisms along with single celled microbes. The evolution of life suggests where there are single celled creatures, multi celled organisms also develop through reproduction of cells. Besides, life on Earth as well started out as one celled life and evolved into much complex human beings who are multi cellular organisms. Not only is the history of this universe proof why extraterrestrials exist, but the current studies also reinforce the proposal. Scientists are conducting research and gathering evidence to confirm that life on planets elsewhere is plausible. Recently, NASA’s team discovered something remarkable. They found nucleobases, adenine and guanine, and nucleobase analogues on the meteorites found in Antarctica and Australia (Spotts). Adenine and guanine are found in organisms on Earth, the analogues, however, are not. Nucleobase analogues are chemicals that can substitute for nucleobases when they pair together to form nucleic acids. Compounds adenine and guanine are two of the simplest building blocks of life in this world. Some scientists alleged the meteorites could have picked up adenine and guanine as contamination from Earth, but since the analogues are not from Earth, it would be invalid to declare the contamination of space-rocks. Additionally, there was an experiment conducted by NASA’s team members in which a mixture of ammonia, water, and hydrogen cyanide was created. These compounds are ordinarily found in clouds and gas from stars or other planets (Spotts). Researchers found nucleobases and nucleobase analogues in this mixture. These two discoveries prove that analogues do not originate from Earth and that adenine and guanine are present in other areas of the universe. It is safe to say that important parts of DNA may come from chemical reactions on asteroids. All life on earth may have originated from these “alien” compounds. Furthermore, adenine and guanine may be transferred to those planets that lack these compounds by meteorites in space and eventually they would come to be habitable. In addition to genetic discoveries, NASA has discovered new types of stars called Red dwarfs. Red dwarfs are types of stars found in the universe that are smaller than the sun yet grant support to extraterrestrial life. Research in the past was dedicated to finding stars like sun that might support life, but no results were found. The contemporary research is focused on searching dim stars like red dwarfs, the most likely stars to support extraterrestrial life because of their common occurrence. About 80% of the stars in the universe are red dwarfs. The life span of these stars is more than trillions of years, and they have been in existence since the young age of the universe (Whitehouse). Even now, most of them are considered to be in their childhood years. There must be life in planets orbiting these stars. All life on planet Earth will soon come to an end because of the short life span of the sun. Stars keep planets stable and provide essential environments to sustain life. Differing from stars like sun, the red dwarfs’ extremely extensive life span is long enough to support not only the existing but also the evolving life on planets in its solar system. Gliese 581 is a red dwarf with six planets that orbit the star. Gliese 581d is a planet considered to be in the star’s habitable zone because it is neither too close nor too far from the red dwarf star (Whitehouse). The planet, Gliese 581d, being in the habitable zone suggests that it may contain liquid water which can support life. Some scientists believe that 581d may be tidally locked and therefore only half of the planet would have light and heat while the other part would be dark and cold (Whitehouse). Though they are correct, the extremes would not interfere because the atmosphere in planets orbiting red dwarfs is extremely thin that it could transport the heat throughout and balance out the temperature; and the possibility of life would increase given that life requires steady temperatures. Even with its differences, 581d is particularly similar to Earth, which makes it suitable for aiding existence of aliens. The vastness of the universe plays just as imperative role in the probability of extraterrestrial life as the modern research.
The immensity of the universe is not comprehensible by most people and so it becomes a basis for the possibility of alien life. Scientists, however, have come up with theories that explain the phenomena. Though it is impossible to explain all of the precise details of how the universe came into being, scientists have come up with a theory that stands all tests so far. It is known as the big bang theory, which states that the universe has been expanding continuously ever since the big bang (Editors of Scientific American, 242). Also, “A fraction of a second after the big bang, the universe ballooned from smaller than an atom to 100 trillion trillion times its original size, at a speed faster than the speed of light” (Khan). At this rate, it is impossible to understand the continuously expanding size of the universe leading to less hospitability of life. As the universe expands, the distance between the outer space objects increases. Stars keep planets stable and determine the environments of planets in their solar systems. Increase in distance leads to precariousness and incapability of planets to support life since they would be farther away from their star. There were planets more suitable to sustain life in the past, but have now lost the ability to do so; this may be one of the reasons why scientists have not found extraterrestrials; but since there are still planets in close proximity to their star, they may be capable of sustaining life. Like the big bang theory, the inflationary theory has gained popularity. The inflationary theory is one iota different from the big bang theory. The inflationary theory proposes the universe does not expand continuously after one big bang, but rather has multiple explosions that give birth to others (Editors of Scientific American 285). In short, the theory insinuates the universe is more massive than explained in the big bang theory. If so, in such a complex universe it becomes impossible to search every corner of it in less than a century; which is how long the scientists have been hunting. These are the rationales to why there have not been results, but if the scientists do not search, there will surely be no results. The immensity of the universe also elucidates the possibility of suitable planets with extraterrestrials.
Probability of alien life can be best supported by the laws of the universe. It is evident the universe contains numerous planets, moons, and other celestial bodies. Though this fact is significant, the more crucial question is where all of this comes from. The answer is, “because the universe was compressed and experienced a single sudden expansion, the characteristics of the background radiation would be roughly the same” (Khan). According to the big bang theory, they all came into existence from nothing, but more prominently they all came from that same nothingness. Comparatively, the human race is the same; siblings have similar qualities because they have the same parents. In the case of the universe, which so to say reproduced asexually, the parent is the nothingness. Planet Earth and billions of celestial bodies came from the one place. Consequently, there must be other planets with similar environments that sustain extraterrestrial beings. Laws of the universe suggest that characteristics of objects born from the same place must be similar if not identical; so if life exists on Earth, it must exist elsewhere in one way or another. Furthermore, NASA’s Kepler space telescope shows that about one-fifth of every star like sun is orbited by one planet that is congenial to life (Achenbach). According to Fressin, about 17 billion Earth-seized planets exist in this universe excluding colossal planets like Jupiter (Lanau). Out of the countless planets in the universe, an abundance of them are the similar to Earth in many ways. Planet Earth may be special, but it is definitely not unique. There are billions of planets out there and alien life could be anywhere; it is just a matter of looking in the right place, not a matter of if.
The past of the universe, the current research, and the extent of the universe are all substantiations for the likelihood of existence of alien life in outer space. Mars, Europa, and planets like Gliese 581d are believed to be habitable. There is proof that humans could be aliens as there were alien bacteria fossils found near meteorite and the discovery that some parts of DNA are not actually terrestrial. In addition to being the reason why scientists have not found extraterrestrials, the vastness of the universe also explains why there must be alien life on other planets. People do not believe in the possibility of life existing elsewhere and the reason is they have not seen it. Simply because they have not observed the existence with their own eyes, it does not mean it cannot possibly exist. It is like saying air and feelings are not real. The lack of existence cannot be supported by the lack of evidence; in this case there is ample evidence.

Works Cited
Achenbach, Joel. “Other Potential Earths? Try 25 Billion of Them.” Washington Post. 5 Nov. 2013: p.A.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 08 Sept. 2014 <>.
The Editors of Scientific American, Ed. The Scientific Book of Astronomy. New York: Scientific American, 1999.
Khan, Amina. “Evidence from the Dawn of Time.” Los Angeles Times. 18 Mar. 2014: p.A.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 08 Sept. 2014 <>.
Lanau, Kate. “Planet Hunting.” Maclean’s. 16 Jan. 2013: p.44. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 08 Sept. 2014 <>.
Nardo, Don. Extraterrestrial Life. San Diego. Lucent, Books, 2004.
Nelson, Jon. Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology. 2008. Web. 07 Sept 2014 <>.
Spotts, Pete. “Are We All Extraterrestrials?” Christian Science Monitor. 12 Aug. 2011: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 08 Sept. 2014 <>.
Whitehouse, David. “Dim Stars Shine Bright Light on the Hunt for ET.”Daily Telegraph. 04 Jun. 2013: p.30. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 08 Sept. 2014 <>. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2014 <>.

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