British Astronaut States 'Aliens Exist And Could Be On Earth'
January 08, 2020 6:00 AM
This article is more than three years old and was last updated in April 2022.
Although Tim Peake may have grabbed the headlines more recently, Dr. Helen Sharman was actually the first Brit in space in 1991, spending eight days aboard the Soviet space station Mir.
Dr. Sharman, who has a PhD in chemistry, told the Observer Magazine that she's convinced alien life must exist in the universe, and that it's possible that aliens are walking amongst us right now, but we can't see them.
"Aliens exist, there's no two ways about it. There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life. Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not. It's possible they're here right now and we simply can't see them."
Whilst it's not unexpected to hear scientists speak about the statistical likelihood of their being intelligent alien life existing somewhere else in the universe apart from on Earth, it's unusual to hear they also believe that life could be co-existing with us on Earth, but we just can't detect it.
The Fermi Paradox was put forward by the noted Italian physicist who was instrumental in the development of the world's first nuclear reactor. He first postulated his theory in 1950. Simply put, it states that the Earth is relatively young in a much older universe, yet we have apparently not been visited by aliens. Fermi stated that a civilisation with both the knowledge of space travel, and a desire to explore space, would be able to explore every star system in our galaxy in under ten million years. Ten million years is a relatively short time compared to the ten thousand million years that our galaxy, the Milky Way, has been in existence.
Writing in a paper that further developed Fermi's idea in 1975, (An Explanation for the Absence of Extraterrestrials on Earth), Michael Hart came up with four main arguments for exploring this paradox, about why we haven't seen aliens on Earth, yet.
- There is a limitation at the heart of the technology for space travel which meant the aliens couldn't reach Earth – that limitation could be related to astronomy, the biology of the race itself, or maybe a limitation on the engineering required for interstellar travel.
- Aliens decided to bypass Earth, either because our part of the galaxy didn't interest them, or perhaps they took a look and decided we weren't worth contacting.
- Perhaps alien civilisation is of a similar development to us, and their technology has not yet reached the stage which allows interstellar travel.
- Aliens have visited us, or as Dr. Sharman points out, are actually here, but we haven't detected them.
Whatever the answer, it's good to hear some fresh ammunition in the argument around alien life possibly being on Earth.
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