With such a vast Universe and raw ingredients that seem to be everywhere, could it really be possible that humanity is truly alone?
The Universe, as we understand it today, is a vast expanse of space littered with stars, galaxies, and very likely planets, for as far as our instruments can probe. Beyond that, there’s likely a much greater amount of “Universe” out there that’s unobservable to us, and an inflationary multiverse in which our entire Universe is embedded. Yet, even though our scientific efforts have revealed an enormous number of details about the Universe we inhabit (and perhaps even beyond), we have yet to find another inhabited world out there with even simple, microbial life, much less life that’s complex and differentiated, or even intelligent and technologically advanced. The question of just how “alone” we are in the Universe remains unanswered.
And it’s this question — perhaps the biggest existential question of all — that Ronald Rainge wants to know the answer to, asking:
“With a universe large beyond comprehension, and theories of multiverses, could this really be the only planet with high level intelligent life?”
Although there are an enormous variety of well-thought-out possible answers to this question, we have an absolute absence of data to know for sure. The current answer is that a Universe with ubiquitous intelligent life and a Universe where “Earthlings” are the only ones around are both within the realm of possibility, and it will take a tremendous increase in our current knowledge to know the answer for certain. Here’s where we stand today.
Let’s begin by dividing our knowledge base into three separate sections:
- what is known to be true, today, in 2023,
- what is not yet known but is assumed to be true, based on our current knowledge,
- and what remains unknown, even today, even with the best knowledge at our disposal.