By DORIAN NEIGHBORS
If you want to discuss whether or not aliens are real, you first must ask yourself, “What are aliens?” The problem at hand is that aliens encompass much more than merely the bug-eyed, green guys you see on TV. Aliens can mean anything from an invasive plant species to an intelligent life form from another universe or galaxy. Stephen Hawking, one of the most intelligent minds of the 21st century, stated that “meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.” This implied threat suggests that there are advanced life forms capable of not only communication but also mass destruction. While it is not impossible, it is rather improbable. As our attempts of exploring our humble galaxy expand, we find not quite the Hollywood worthy aliens everyone was hoping for, but rather hints at life long lost to time.
The planet with all eyes on it currently is Mars. Presently, there have been 14 successful expeditions to Mars, including the famous Mars rovers Curiosity, Opportunity and Spirit. With everyone’s attention on the Red Planet, people have begun to ask, “Is there life on Mars?” According to the Smithsonian, there was: or at least we believe so. In 1997, scientists found a meteor with a peculiar chemical composition, which “contained a combination of minerals and carbon compounds that on Earth are created by microbes.” Microbes, as you may have guessed, qualify as life. It is a microscopic biological organism and the precursor to life as we know it on Earth. This is where the concept of aliens enters a grey area.
The simple answer to everyone’s question is, yes, there are aliens. They are just not what we imagined. Speaking in technicalities, the evidence of microbes on Mars hints at the fact that there could have been life on Mars before the human race was ever a possibility. These primitive life forms, unfortunately, do not sate our curiosity. As technology advances and our desire to explore grows, humans will continue to push every boundary as we attempt to find other intelligent life forms. While the foreign life we currently know of isn’t quite as extraordinary or glamourous as one might hope, it is still a significant clue as to life elsewhere in galaxies far, far away. Why we search for other life so zealously is still a mystery. Perhaps it is our innate thirst for knowledge that drives us into the vast unknown, or maybe it is merely a desire to know we aren’t alone in this endless universe.