posted on Sep, 7 2012 @ 05:07 PM
I’ve been reading these forums for a while, but this is my first thread. I’m writing this in response to an argument I commonly see from UFO
skeptics which always drives me nuts, specifically, the “they can’t get here from there” argument.
Many skeptics argue that because there is such a great distance between stars, it would take an unrealistic commitment of time and energy in order to
reach other star systems, and that the time such a trip would take would necessarily make the journey a one-way trip. But even assuming, for the sake
of argument, that the only way to get from point A to point B is by accelerating an object and that, regardless of how advanced knowledge or
technology becomes, the speed of light is a limitation that cannot be broken, this argument still relies on the implicit assumption that alien life
would have roughly the same lifespan as humans, and for some reason, I can’t recall ever hearing anyone counter this seemingly unjustified
assumption. Consider the following:
a) Even on our own planet, there is a very wide range of lifespans among various organisms. There are animals that live for hundreds of years, and
some, such as the lobster and the Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish that are considered to be biologically immortal (meaning that they won’t die of
old age, even though they can be killed by injury, disease, etc.). There are trees that are thousands of years old, and we currently don’t even know
if these trees have a maximum lifespan based on aging processes. I believe the oldest living organism that we know of is an 80,000 year old colony of
Aspen Trees. Granted that we usually find that more complex life on our planet has a relatively short lifespan, but from the data we do have
demonstrates that this limit is certainly not a constant.
b) We still really don’t have a solid idea of how life forms in its initial stages, and we have no way of knowing if the replication errors that
occur in life on Earth that we generally attribute to aging are universal, or even common. It could be that the evolution of life on other planets has
allowed for even more complex organisms to live for thousands of years, or maybe indefinitely, barring death by some other external means. Or it could
be that these processes that lead to aging are universal and unavoidable. The point is that we really don’t have enough data to estimate an maximum
or average lifespan of intelligent life on other planets.
c) I would argue that it’s not only plausible, but likely, that civilizations that have reached a high degree of technological development
sufficient for long-distance space travel would also have developed a fairly strong ability to artificially compensate for inherent biological
problems. Things like artificial organs, cybernetic implants, genetic manipulation, and suspended animation are all things that we have either done to
some degree or are within our grasp in the foreseeable future, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to allow for the possibility that at
least some advanced alien civilizations would be able to significantly lengthen their natural lifespan through technological means.
Now, assuming that an alien lifeform did have a lifespan significantly longer than a human’s, travel to distant stars would suddenly seem much more
feasible. A journey might take up the entirety of a human’s life could only consume a small portion of an alien’s, and perhaps a willingness to
travel at slower speeds could conserve energy, etc.
Please don’t misunderstand my argument. I’m not trying to argue that aliens have actually visited us, as there are many other threads for that,
and I’m not trying to argue that there is necessarily alien life with a much longer lifespan than humans. It could be that humans are the longest
living, or only, beings in the universe saying that all aliens have longer lifespans than humans, although I’d personally surprised and quite
disappointed if that somehow turned out to be true. I’m simply saying that, given our knowledge about life on earth, the potential for
technologically manipulating biological systems, as well as our general ignorance of how life actually may have formed on other planets, it’s
completely unjustified to assume that a time period approximating the human lifespan would necessarily be a universal limitation on space travel, and
thus the routine dismissal of alien visitation due to the supposedly universal infeasibility of space travel is completely without any legitimate