Text Size
Facebook Twitter More...

As the world suffers a nonstop series of calamities, the effort to look for life beyond Earth may seem frivolous. The reaction of some will be to say “yes, that’s a nice thing to do, but not an important thing.”

This presumption is myopic because of the weighty societal implications of the activity we call exploration.

Hunting for extraterrestrial biology differs from most science in that its hypothesis can’t be disproven. Most researchers think there must be life elsewhere in the cosmos, and polls show that the public generally agrees. But unlike the majority of research assertions, there’s no way to demonstrate that such life doesn’t exist. The hypothesis of a universe laced by biology can’t be falsified.

So, by the conventions of science, you could say that our experiments to find other life – whether microbes in the Solar System or extraterrestrials on a planet hundreds of light-years away – are not really experiments: they’re searches. They’re exploration.

As a social activity, exploration has been essential to survival. The ancient Egyptians weren’t terribly interested in lands beyond the shores of the Nile, leading to ossification of their culture and its eventual subjugation by the Greeks and the Romans. The Renaissance, which marked the transition from feudalism to modernity, might have stalled if it hadn’t been accompanied by the Age of Discovery.

Exploration is deeply consequential.

To read more and view the video, click here.
Category: Science