A St Andrews University-based academic says that contact with extraterrestrial life forms is 'feasible'.
We should be prepared for contact with aliens, a Scottish-based scientist has argued.
In order to cope with any interaction with extraterrestrial life forms, the researcher has argued that the United Nations (UN) must set up a branch to deal with any alien encounters.
The comments are part of an extraterrestrial-themed edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
In it, scientists examine all aspects of the search for extraterrestrial life, from astronomy and biology to the political and religious fall-out that would result from alien contact.
Dr Martin Dominik of St Andrews University is joined by Professor John Zarnecki of the Open University in arguing for world nations putting “supra-Earth affairs” on the agenda.
Their report states: “Astronomers are now able to detect planets orbiting stars other than the Sun where life may exist, and living generations could see the signatures of extra-terrestrial life being detected.
“Should it turn out that we are not alone in the Universe, it will fundamentally affect how humanity understands itself—and we need to be prepared for the consequences.”
The UN has already established a similar forum for preparing for alien encounters in its Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (Copuos), the scientists argue.
Extra-terrestrial life forms may not “differ that much from our own”, according to the scientists, while humans may experience “substantial difficulties” in detecting aliens as they may not leave chemical fossils like life forms on Earth.
The experts have concluded that contact with aliens is “feasible”, while sci-fi literature, films and art should not be discredited as a it could “advance knowledge towards new frontiers, and is not at all an unscientific concept”.
In concluding, the scientists state: “For the first time in human history, living generations are now given a realistic chance to find out whether we are alone in the Universe.
“Should an answer be found one day, we will still be left with deeper questions to be answered: where do we come from, why are we here and where will we be going?”
By Mike Farrell
10 January 2011 19:44 GMT