The Search for Intelligent Life Beyond Earth

Essay by KarmadogUniversity, Bachelor's April 2006

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Have you ever wondered if there is intelligent life beyond Earth? In a vast and uncharted solar system such as ours the existence of extraterrestrial life has always been a very real possibility. After all, our galaxy, the Milky Way, is over 100,000 light years across and is only one of many galaxies that make up the entire solar system! The most rational mind can at least admit that there is a high degree of uncertainty when it comes to knowing what lies beyond. For those of us who refuse to believe that we are not alone, the search for evidence of life in the galaxy has always had a fascinating appeal. Unfortunately, to date, no hard scientific evidence has been presented which can positively identify the existence of extraterrestrial life. That being said, it is still very interesting to think about ways in which one day we may actually be able to prove the existence of external "friends" in this galaxy.

Recently, an interesting hypothesis has proposed that it may be possible to develop a radio communications system powerful enough to scan the sky for aliens! It sounds crazy enough, but evidence and theory at least support the possibility.

Searching the entire sky for extraterrestrial life emitting a radio signal presents a number of difficulties. For starters, we do not know what frequency another life form would be using to communicate so the search would require a myriad of resources. Is has been hypothesized that alien life form is supported by similar elements to our own, such as hydrogen and hydroxyl compounds; therefore, passive monitoring of these frequencies has already begun but to no avail. These frequencies hover between wavelengths of 18cm to 21cm. Wavelengths of this frequency come from the quietest part of the spectrum, which...