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Earth should prepare for an encounter with aliens, scientists say



A team of scientists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland wants to come up with a plan for what to do if humans encounter aliens.

With the help of experts from all over the world, they want to draw up reliable protocols and treaties, as well as evaluate any evidence of the existence of intelligent civilizations.

Their preparatory work will take place at the university’s new Research Center for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

No life outside of Earth has ever been discovered; there is no evidence that alien life has ever visited Earth. However, this does not mean that the Universe is lifeless, except on Earth, according to NASA.

The space agency says: “Although no clear signs of life have been found, the possibility of extraterrestrial biology – the scientific logic that supports it – is becoming increasingly plausible.”

One popular view is that our own existence is evidence that there is definitely life on other planets, since the probability that the Earth is a “single specimen” is almost zero.

However, one argument against this is: if there is extraterrestrial life, why haven’t we found any evidence of it?

Now, scientists have decided to prepare for a possible meeting and more fully study all aspects of this issue. They explained that it is necessary not only to coordinate expertise to assess the evidence, but also to consider what the social reaction of people might be.

The group believes that limited attention is being paid to the implications for society if alien intelligence is discovered. While the United Nations has processes and organizations set up to deal with the asteroid impact threat, there is nothing similar for extraterrestrial life.

In June, NASA announced the start of its first-ever study of unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly known as UFOs. They establish which observations are natural and which do not merit further study.

As for social interest, scientists note that it has grown significantly in recent years. The reason for this is both the discovery of thousands of planets around distant stars in our own galaxy, as well as potential signs of life on planets as close to us as Mars and Venus.

“The potential discovery of microbial life is likely to cause various kinds of anxiety that will follow the discovery of intelligent life – we as a species are completely unprepared for the latter,” the scientists explained.

Scientists will manage the entire process of finding evidence, confirming findings, analyzing them and interpreting language patterns, and managing potential responses. Scientists from the field of natural sciences and humanities will be involved in the work.

They will also coordinate with policy experts on message decryption, data analysis, space law, rulemaking and social impact strategies to help close the policy gap.

“Will we ever get a message from an extraterrestrial civilization? We do not know. We also don’t know when that will happen. But we know that we cannot afford to be ill-prepared—scientifically, socially and politically—for an event that could become a reality tomorrow and that we cannot afford to mismanage,” they explained.

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Extraterrestrial life may be hiding in “terminator zones”




In a study published in the Astrophysical Journal, astrophysicists set out to find out if exoplanets could support life.

Astronomers have come to the conclusion that on the surface of some exoplanets there is a strip that may contain water, necessary for the existence of biological life. The terminator zone is the dividing line between the day and night sides of an exoplanet.

Many exoplanets are planets outside the solar system held by gravity. This means that one side of the planet is always facing the star they orbit, while the other side is in constant darkness.

The water on the dark side will most likely be in a frozen state, while on the light side it will be so hot that the water should just evaporate.

The terminator zone would be a “friendly place” – neither too hot nor too cold – in which liquid water could support extraterrestrial life.

Dr. Ana Lobo of the University of California, said: “The day side can be scalding hot, much uninhabitable, while the night side will be icy, potentially covered in ice. You need a planet that’s the right temperature for liquid water.”

“We’re trying to draw attention to planets with more limited amounts of water that, despite not having widespread oceans, might have lakes or other smaller bodies of liquid water, and that climate could actually be very promising.”

“By exploring these exotic climate states, we are improving our chances of finding and correctly identifying a habitable planet in the near future.”

The researchers created a model of their climate by analyzing different temperatures, wind patterns and radiative forcing, and found the “correct” zone on exoplanets that could contain life-supporting liquid water.

Researchers who are looking for life on exoplanets will now take into account the fact that it can hide in certain areas.

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Astronomers discover the strongest evidence for another Universe before the Big Bang




The notion of the Big Bang goes back nearly 100 years, when the first evidence for the expanding Universe appeared.

If the Universe is expanding and cooling today, that implies a past that was smaller, denser, and hotter. In our imaginations, we can extrapolate back to arbitrarily small sizes, high densities, and hot temperatures: all the way to a singularity, where all of the Universe’s matter and energy was condensed in a single point. 

For many decades, these two notions of the Big Bang — of the hot dense state that describes the early Universe and the initial singularity — were inseparable.

But beginning in the 1970s, scientists started identifying some puzzles surrounding the Big Bang, noting several properties of the Universe that weren’t explainable within the context of these two notions simultaneously. 

When cosmic inflation was first put forth and developed in the early 1980s, it separated the two definitions of the Big Bang, proposing that the early hot, dense state never achieved these singular conditions, but rather that a new, inflationary state preceded it. 

There really was a Universe before the hot Big Bang, and some very strong evidence from the 21st century truly proves that it’s so.

Although we’re certain that we can describe the very early Universe as being hot, dense, rapidly expanding, and full of matter-and-radiation — i.e., by the hot Big Bang — the question of whether that was truly the beginning of the Universe or not is one that can be answered with evidence. 

The differences between a Universe that began with a hot Big Bang and a Universe that had an inflationary phase that precedes and sets up the hot Big Bang are subtle, but tremendously important. After all, if we want to know what the very beginning of the Universe was, we need to look for evidence from the Universe itself.

Read the full article here.

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