Four out of five Canadians say they believe in aliens and scientists want to find some
This Friday is the day we find out if two million people are really going to storm one of the world’s most famous military bases to try and get a glimpse of aliens and UFOs. Even if just one per cent of the people who signed up for the joke event show up at Area 51, that would be 20,000 people. The U.S. Air Force has said it’s “ready to protect America and its assets,” while the Facebook event post boasts that “we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.” No one really knows what’s going to happen. In the meantime, Postmedia's Bobby Hristova has taken a look at the history of man’s interest in the search for alien life. Watch the video or read the transcript below.
Green bald heads, long slim fingers and huge black eyes. You already know what I’m talking about — and yet we’ve never ever seen one.
Still, so many of us think aliens are out there, floating in space, and plenty of people think the government is hiding what it knows from us.
That’s why two million people put on their tinfoil hats and proclaimed on Facebook that they would storm Area 51 to try and uncover humanity’s biggest secret.
So how did we get here? To understand, we need to take a look at the history of earth’s search for aliens.
Around 270 BC Greek mythology came up with stories for every little thing in space, while some of history’s earliest storytellers told fables of earthlings reaching the moon and finding ungodly creatures.
Of course, now we’ve reached the moon and we know that no one’s living up there … and, sadly, that it isn’t made of cheese.
But in West Virginia’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory, there was hope. Project Ozma was what many recognize as the first real attempt to try and find a trace of aliens.
Astronomer Frank Drake led the charge in 1960, pointing a radio telescope into the sky to try and eavesdrop on whatever might be out there.
There was no answer. But he did not waver, and he came up with a mathematical equation to estimate the number of other worldly beings in space.
Drake’s equation says the number of transmitting civilizations in a galaxy is a product of seven things: The rate that stars form each year; the percentage of stars that have planets; the number of planets per solar system that can support life; the percentage of those planets that have life; the percentage of those planets where intelligence develops; the percentage of species that have space technology; and the average lifetime of those communicating civilizations.
Got all that? Anyway, he predicts there are 10,000 alien civilizations out there.
Drake wasn’t the only member of the scientific community taking the hunt for aliens seriously. In 1972, NASA launched Pioneer 10, which became the first spacecraft to leave our solar system.
Drake joined forces with American astronomer Carl Sagan to add a message from mankind to the unmanned spacecraft in case it was ever intercepted by intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Two years later, the duo led a team in Puerto Rico behind the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space — the Arecibo Message.
Their team used the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory to broadcast a binary message that includes our solar system, a drawing of DNA, a stick figure of a human and some of the biochemicals that make up life on earth.
That message was aimed at globular star cluster M13, which is about 25,000 light years away — so don’t expect a response any time soon.
In 1984, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was established. The non-profit group is composed of scientists trying to find out if we really are alone in the universe.
Since then, the challenge became not only finding aliens, but trying to overcome pop culture’s tendency to poke fun at the idea — with characters like Marvin the Martian, E.T., the film Men in Black and all of our favourite space sagas.
But scientists may have won that battle, with about four out of five Canadians in a 2016 Angus Reid poll saying they believe in aliens.
While some scientists focus their search for life on far-off stars and planets, the CIA and the Pentagon focus on events closer to home.
They’ve studied what they call unexplained aerial phenomenon for decades, leading some conspiracy theorists to suspect that the U.S. is hiding UFOs and alien technology from the public in the Area 51 base in Nevada.
The theories about Area 51 started in 1989 when a guy named Bob Lazar claimed he was a physicist who worked in the top secret base and saw alien technology. His claims have been disproven, but that hasn’t done much to stop conspiracy theorists and there’s even a Netflix documentary about his life.
NASA’s latest find is exoplanet K2-18b , which orbits a red dwarf star in the constellation Leo, about 110 light years from Earth. Researchers say it is “the best candidate for habitability that we know right now.” It has water and the right temperature to support earth-like life — although the researchers stress it is not a second earth by any means.
But, hey, if life is out there, somewhere, I’ve got two theories – aliens are either not evolved enough to find us or smart enough to know they’re better off staying that way.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019