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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 22

Hello? Why Isn''t Anybody Answering?

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 08:09:58 -0400
Archived: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 08:09:58 -0400
Subject: Hello? Why Isn''t Anybody Answering?

Source: The Naples Daily News - Florida, USA


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ben Bova: Hello? Why Isn''t Anybody Answering?

By Ben Bova

Last week we talked about intelligent alien civilizations. Are
there any?

Since 1959 astronomers have been searching the heavens with
radio telescopes, seeking evidence that intelligent aliens
exist, trying to catch a signal from an extraterrestrial

To no avail. Except for one brief =93Wow!=94 signal that was never
repeated, nothing even faintly resembling ET signals has been
discovered. There was a brief flurry of excitement in 1967 when
very regular radio pulses were picked up, but they turned out to
be natural radio emissions from collapsed stars, called pulsars.

No little green men. No intelligent signals.

Why not?

Are we alone in the universe?

Our sun is one of more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way
galaxy. Our galaxy is a vast pinwheel-shaped assemblage of stars
and loose dust from which new stars are made, about 100,000
light years in diameter. One light year is a distance of about 6
trillion miles.

Our sun is placed about 30,000 light years from the Milky Way's
center, well out in the suburbs. It moves around that center in
an orbit that takes 200 million years to complete. The last time
we were at this position in the galaxy, the dinosaurs hadn't
even appeared yet.

Our sun is a relative newcomer in the Milky Way, barely 5
billion years old. The galaxy is two to three times older than
that. Its oldest stars are in the core of the Milky Way, where
very ancient stars are packed thickly. Out here in the suburbs
the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is some 4.3 light years away
from us.

If life and intelligence are commonplace in the universe, you
would expect the earliest civilizations to arise on planets
orbiting the oldest stars. But you would be wrong.

According to what we know today, the universe began some 12 to
15 billion years ago in a cosmic explosion we call the Big Bang.
Out of nothingness came all the matter and energy of our
universe. The matter, though, was in the form of hydrogen and
helium, the two lightest elements, with perhaps a spattering of
lithium, the third lightest.

Those light elements were all that was available to build the
first stars. That means that the earliest stars could not harbor
life. Living creatures require more complex elements, such as
carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc.

The first stars had no such heavier elements. If the first stars
had planets accompanying them, those planets were balls of
hydrogen, helium and possibly lithium. Life could not have
arisen from those ingredients.

But stars are cosmic cookers. Deep in their incredibly hot and
dense cores they brew heavier elements through the alchemy of
nuclear fusion. Those first stars produce oxygen, carbon and
other elements in their cores.

Stars go through life cycles. They are born out of interstellar
gas and dust. They cook up heavier elements inside of
themselves. And when they die, they spew those elements back
into the interstellar clouds.

New stars have heavier elements to begin with, and brew even-
heavier elements as they go through their life cycles.

By the time our sun coalesced out of an interstellar cloud, its
building-block elements included oxygen, carbon, potassium, even
iron. Our planet Earth was built of those elements. So were we.

In the truest sense, we are stardust. The atoms of our bodies
were manufactured inside ancient stars, now long dead.

This means that the very oldest stars cannot be the sites of
ancient civilizations. They didn't have the elements necessary
for life. Stars of our sun's age do.

So there's no sense expecting to find vastly older and wiser
civilizations existing around the oldest stars in the Milky Way.
Besides, the core of the galaxy, where the oldest stars are, is
drenched with lethal radiation =97 the outpourings from a giant
black hole at the heart of the Milky Way.

Don't expect to find benign UFO pilots from the center of the
Milky Way. That region must be a lifeless desert. It's out here
in the suburbs, safely away from the core's radiation, where
young stars rich in the heavier elements exist, that life can

While the heart of the Milky Way may be barren, there are still
millions of stars like the sun, young enough to contain the
elements necessary for life and far enough away from the
galaxy's radiation-drenched core to allow life to flourish.

Why haven't we detected any radio signals from them?

The simple answer could be that there aren't any other
intelligent civilizations. We take it for granted that if life
takes root on a planet, an intelligent species will eventually
arise. All it takes is time.

But is that true? Planets can be scrubbed clean of life. Earth
has gone through major extinction events in the past. A fair-
sized asteroid, about the size of Manhattan Island, could
clobber this planet and extinguish the human race entirely.

Or maybe intelligence is not as inevitable as we assume. After
all, Earth existed for almost all of its nearly 5 billion years
without an intelligent species. Maybe intelligence is just a
special kind of adaptation, not an inexorable end point of
evolution. Of all the myriads of species on Earth, only one has
produced true intelligence.

Considering our propensities toward war and conflict, perhaps
intelligence isn't all that much help in a species' long-term
prospects for survival.

On the other hand, maybe there are intelligent species out among
the stars who don't use radio to communicate. Perhaps they're a
century or two behind us in technological development and simply
haven't invented radio yet.

Or maybe they're a century or two ahead of us and no longer use
radio. Maybe they're far ahead of us and don't care to
communicate with primitives such as us.

Maybe they're waiting for us to grow up and stop killing each
other before they say hello.


Naples resident Ben Bova is the author of more than 115 books.
His latest novel is =93The Aftermath.=94 Dr. Bova's Web site address
is www.benbova.com.

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