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'Are we Alone in the Universe?'

'Are we Alone in the Universe?'

During APT 2 on Wednesday 18th May, Radleians flocked to the Coffee Shop to hear Colin Stuart speak on the topic of “Are we alone in the Universe?” Mr Stuart began his fascinating talk with a photograph taken by the Cassini probe in 2006, of a solar eclipse of Saturn. He then pointed out the most insignificant speck and confirmed that, as of right now, that indistinguishable speck is the only know place with life in the entire universe; the speck is earth.

The talk itself was positively gripping for all the boys in attendance; Mr Stuart first debunked the myth of ‘Martians’ for being the result of a simple mistranslation when observing the planet; although the presence of, albeit frozen, water certainly does suggest that some degree of life on a microscopic level could exist. Then he drew the boys’ attention towards a less-known object in our solar system: Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Mr Stuart explained how Europa is covered by a 12 mile thick layer of ice and below that, we hope, may be some form of life, which might even be witnessed in our lifetimes as voyages are already being planned.

The main issue, claimed Mr Stuart, when searching for potentially habitable planets is that we need to find planets which sit in a Goldilocks zone, not too close to the sun but neither too far from it, in order for the water on the planet to be able to support life. Currently, from our observations, 60 billion such planets exist in our galaxy alone. However, the only evidence thus far of alien activity is the ‘Wow signal’, recorded in 1977 which could possibly represent radio wave leakage from other aliens but, perhaps more likely, could just be the result of a natural phenomenon which we have not yet discovered.

Thus Mr Stuart concluded that, given the immense scope of the universe and our research so far, it is unlikely that we are alone; however, it is equally unlikely that we will ever find evidence for life due to this immense scope and thus we must simply hope to get lucky with our searching. However, if life does exist out there do we want it to learn of our existence? Is it a good idea to advertise our presence as a habitable, green planet? I for one am happy without the involvement of Aliens: let’s leave that aspect to Hollywood.

Report by Arthur Dingemans, C Social 6.1

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