I came across this article earlier on CNN.com and found it very intriguing, as it's a subject that occasionally crosses my mind and gets me wondering, to the point where my head hurts and my brain feels like it's about to explode.
Are we alone in the universe?
It seems that almost everyone has a different answer when it comes to that question. And people have a whole spectrum of bases for their opinions, from religious beliefs to scientific probability to just a really strong desire to feel like we're NOT alone.
Personally, I believe that there must be other forms of life somewhere in the universe, possibly even in our galaxy. It's too incredible to imagine that all of the circumstances that led to life on our planet were completely unique and could never be naturally replicated on another planet, or that our version of "life" - even intelligent life - is the only possibility.
Nonetheless. Even if intelligent life does exist, and such beings are (or have been) trying to make contact with us, as we have been trying to make contact with them, we could be trying to communicate using two very different means which the other knows not how to detect or decipher, making our attempts at communication futile. Not to mention that the simple matter of the vast distances between us and even our closest of planetary neighbors is positively staggering and makes any communication an agonizingly slow process, at best.
Now, I'm no astronomer or high-falutin' scientist (although I did take an astronomy class while in college at UW-Madison, just for kicks, and found it fascinating). I have no idea just how large the universe is. In fact, I really can't fathom even the scope of the Milky Way. Sometimes, when I think about the whole thing too much, it freaks me out to think that we live on this planet and trouble ourselves with such totally trivial and ridiculous things when we might just be the only living beings in the entire universe (even though I don't think we are).
We stress out over our appearance, our weight, whether someone else will find us attractive, how much money is in our bank accounts/investment portfolios, whether our friends are really our friends, whether we'll still have jobs in a week or a month, where to go for dinner, where to take vacations. We fight wars and put the lives of others in danger, all in the name of power and domination. We consume like crazy, pollute like madmen, and trash our planet, as though there is another ready and waiting for us to call it home.
And all the while, we're floating around in seemingly infinite space on a tiny chunk of rock and metal called a planet, circling a tiny star, when there are trillions of other stars (and presumably planets) floating around out there, too, and we have no idea where space begins or ends, whether there are other life forms out there, or what will happen to us and our tiny little planet and our tiny little solar system as time passes.
What does it all mean? What is our purpose? Is it all just random good luck that we came into being on our little rock? Or is there some rhyme and reason to it all?
I'm no religious fanatic or garden variety freak show, trust me. I'm just an Average Everyday Super Woman, contemplating what it means to be a part of the whole great big wide unknown.
I hope we're not alone. And I hope we're able to communicate with other beings in my lifetime. Just because.