Are we Too Primitive to Detect Advanced Extraterrestrial Life?
Leading scientists, astronomers and philosophers alike have pondered the question – are we just too primitive to detect signals or signs of intelligent life on other planets?
According to Arthur C. Clarke, “we may be like jungle savages listening for the throbbing of tom-toms while the ether around them carries more words per second than they could utter in a lifetime."
Recently we have reported on numerous efforts which are underway to detect, as well as contact, advanced extraterrestrial life - the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been scanning our universe for intelligent signals for over 60 years; the Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) project has begun sending out messages in the hope that an advanced race may pick up our signals and respond; and NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has been hunting for planets that could host other life forms for more than a decade.
But has anyone working on these projects stopped to ask: what if their ‘signals’ are very different from our ‘signals’? Leading astronomer, Sir Martin Rees, believes that extraterrestrials could be using an entirely different communication medium to our own, such as neutrinos or gravitational waves or another communication mechanism that we cannot begin to understand.
Lord Rees believes that the existence of extraterrestrial life could simply be beyond human understanding, “I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive. Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there as aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains,” he said.
The current lack of clear messages or signals from advanced civilizations should therefore not be viewed with disappointment - we may just have some catching up to do!