E.T. or not E.T., that is the question.
I think just about everyone who’s ever lived has wondered if we’re alone in the universe. Are we the only intelligent life in existence or is the cosmos filled with all manner of self-aware beings? Wouldn’t you like to know? I sure would.
Scientists tell us that the odds are good that there are gajillions of planets that could sustain life, but so far we’ve heard nary a peep, at least no concrete peeps, from any alien race looking to make friends, enemies, or dinner of us.
Even after almost 30 years of searching the skies SETI hasn’t found proof of intelligent life outside of our own planet. Sure, there’ve been sightings and abductions reported, but that amounts to nothing more than anecdotal evidence. So with the odds in favor of us having interstellar neighbors, why haven’t we met any of them?
Maybe it’s because we really are alone.
Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous on the surface and I don’t want to believe it’s true, but it could be. Let me tell you why, or how, we could find ourselves the only kids in the cosmic playground.
We’re The First:
Like most things that happen, be it inventions, supernovae, awkward dates, or acid reflux, there’s got to be a first time, right? So consider the same for the evolution of intelligent life; someone’s gotta be first. Suppose we human beings, only a decent shave and a pair of pants removed from apes, are the first, and only, intelligent life in the entirety of existence?
It’s kind of scary when you think about it like that, but again, someone’s got to be the first, so why not us? On the bright side, that means there’s plenty of unclaimed real estate waiting for us to build subdivisions and mini-malls on.
That would explain why we’ve never been visited, enslaved, or wiped out by an alien race. So it’s kind of a good news/bad news situation. If we’re first then we’ll be the ones buzzing the trailer parks of far-away planets and causing a stir amongst the locals of a not-so-local planet. We’ll be the ones cleverly stalking primitive aircraft and possibly being spotted for only a brief moment. We’ll be the ones abducting people to examine them more closely.
It is my sincere hope that if and/or when that time comes we have grown past the concept of those infamous “probes” we’ve heard about. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy or any innocent alien life. Besides, we probably wouldn’t have any idea where to stick the damned thing.
We’re The Last:
The universe is old. Really old. Almost 14 billion years old according to people smarter than me, which is everybody else. A whole lot can happen in 14 billion years. Heck, I can go from, “Hi, honey! How was your day?” to “I wish I’d never married your sorry ass!” in less than 14 seconds by just looking at my wife the wrong way, so I can only imagine all the crap that’s happened since the universe went boom.
What if all those gajillion planets developed intelligent life before us? If they’re anything like us, some of them wiped themselves out before they ever got off their home planet, probably over something stupid like socks. But surely some of them fulfilled the dream of exploring deep space and colonizing other planets. These guys would certainly be more mellow and mature than the sock-fighting idiots who blew themselves to smithereens, but they’d be far from perfect.
Over time it’s only natural to assume these races would meet one another. The outcomes of these meetings would likely vary greatly depending on the physical and psychological aspects of each culture. Some would fight and kill each other, which is even more tragic than the sock idiots. Maybe others would get along, but a microbe carried by one would wipe out the others who have no immunity to it. And, hopefully, many others would coexist peacefully for centuries.
But centuries ain’t peanuts to the universe and everything ends.
Even the successful dudes who made gigantic federations of allied races and created unimaginable technologies would eventually fall prey to the various ravages of time. Science fiction gives us a plethora of scenarios whereby these guys could end themselves.
The first idea that comes to mind is a Terminator-type situation where the machines decide they don’t need the fleshy blobs any more and make them go bye-bye. Technology could end a race in a number of other ways, too. They could accidentally make runaway black holes that suck everything up, unintentionally blow up their planets or stars, or even invent time travel and alter their past so they never existed in the first place.
So let’s say these guys are facing widespread extinction and they know it. Life does its best to continue on, so in a desperate attempt to salvage their existence they send out hundreds or thousands of arks that hold the seeds of life. For billions of years, these arks bobble around the universe occasionally finding planets with a hospitable environment to land on.
On a few, simple life takes root and starts over, but by this time all these advanced civilizations are nothing more than a stain under a T-1000’s heel. Again, by sheer numbers and time we emerge as the result of one of those arks, but our “parents” are long gone.
We’re alone, like orphans on the doorstep of the galaxy.
I really hope I’m wrong.