British physicist Stephen Wolfram believes extraterrestrial intelligent life is inevitable, but with a caveat. Although intelligent life is inevitable, we will never find it. Wolfram says that in order to compress more and more information into our communication signals – be they mobile phone conversations or computers – we remove all redundancy or pattern. If anything in a signal repeats, then it can be deleted. But this process of removing any pattern from a signal makes the signal look more and more random – in fact, pretty much like the random radio “noise” that rains down on Earth coming from stars and interstellar gas clouds.
“We’ve taken a major step back in time, beyond what we’d ever expected to be able to do with Hubble. We see GN-z11 at a time when the universe was only three percent of its current age,” observed Pascal Oesch at the University of Geneva and head of the Galaxy Build-Up at Cosmic Dawn team about the discovery of a 13.4 billion-years -old galaxy. It’s mind-boggling by comparison to think that Earth is only 4.5 billion years old.
“Is our universe extremely unnatural, a weird permutation among countless other possibilities, observed for no other reason than that its special conditions allowed life to arise, or, are the properties of the universe are inevitable, predictable, that is, ‘natural,’ locking together into a sensible pattern?” This is the question, the great unknown, that preoccupies theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, N.J.
When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by the strange world of Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, three decades ago, it imaged a world as stunning as it was puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from its surface, a captured Kuiper Belt object that evolved, a potential ocean world with active plumes, an energetic ionosphere and a young, unique surface. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, leaving a trail of intriguing, unanswered questions that NASA hopes to answer.
Is there a fundamental flaw in why we have not received a signal from an advanced alien civilization? How do we decode an alien message –alien is alien so it might be impossible. What if they communicate chemically? Will they use the language of math and science signaling at 1420 megahertz? What if we are too primitive to comprehend a message or the technology of its signal that may exist in a form beyond matter? What if it’s a message from an extinct civilization astrophysicist such as Harvard’s Avi Loeb believes exist in our galaxy? Or, as John Gertz suggests for Scientific American, maybe the aliens are already in our solar system, probably in the form of robotic probes.
“By now it has become a common futurist prediction and science fiction plot device that intelligent and sentient life forms can be created which are not biochemical in nature and are thus fundamentally different from all currently known life,” distinguished Princeton astrophysicist Edwin Turner wrote in an email to The Daily Galaxy. “Whether or not this would actually be possible,” he explains, “depends on the nature and origin of consciousness, a topic about which we have little more than entertaining whistling-in-the-dark guesses at this point and no clear path toward obtaining any better understanding of this deep mystery.”