Recently, the US Department of Defense released a report on UFO sightings. The DoD calls them “unknown aerial phenomena.” In English, that means “we saw some shit flying around, and we don’t know what it was.” The report confirms that Navy pilots have seen things flying around in the atmosphere that they can’t identify. Those items were also picked up by other instruments: radar, lidar, etc. So, they’re definitely something. We just don’t know what.
Instantly, the credulous among us declared they were aliens (myself included). The buzzkills among us claimed they almost certainly weren’t aliens. While I want to believe they were aliens, I’m actually in that latter camp. The UAPs probably aren’t aliens. Here’s my reasoning.
Why The UAPs Aren’t Aliens
For what the Navy pilots have seen to be aliens would mean that they flew from beyond observable space (if a civilization within telescope range could launch space ships, we would know). Those aliens flew all the way here, messed around with Navy pilots, and then flew home. Why would they do this? Assuming logic is fairly universal (pun intended), they would probably act somewhat the way we act.
We don’t send manned missions to take photos of the moon. We send unmanned probes to the moon, Mars, and beyond. It requires fewer resources to send an unmanned probe.
Unless aliens are operating on a completely different spectrum of considerations, and they might be, I would think they would send unmanned probes. If they send actual little green men, I think they’ll probably land. Furthermore, I think they’ll probably be here to stay. I, for one, welcome our little green overlords.
Why Aliens Are Almost Guaranteed
There are six elements essential for most life on earth: CHNOPS. Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur. These elements are actually pretty common in stars throughout the galaxy.
One study found about 90 rocky planets in potentially habitable zones orbiting stars containing the CHNOPS elements compared to 200,000 stars studied. That’s about 1 per 2000 stars. There are estimated to be 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. If the ratio holds, there should be 200 million rocky planets orbiting stars containing CHNOPS elements.
If intelligent life is one-in-a-million, there should be 200 planets somewhere on their way to developing intelligent life. If it’s one-in-ten-million, there should be 20. Unintelligent life is surely more common than that, right? Even if aliens are just single-celled germs swimming around a primordial sea, they seem almost guaranteed.
Did They Already Die?
Human beings as we are now, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, are only about 100,000 years old. In that short time, we’ve gone from primitive family groups to massive empires that threaten the climatic stability of the planet. What if human beings are actually typical of intelligent life?
If life is one-in-a-million and there were 200 intelligent species, what if there just aren’t any right now? Our sun is 4.6 billion years old. If you imagine that intelligent life could have evolved at any point along, say, the last 4 billion years, we’re just a random blip. The universe is 14 billion years old. So, if most species only last for 100 to 200,000 years and there have been 14 billion years of opportunities, all of the intelligent life might have already come and gone a long time ago.
We might be strutting in our moment on stage only to pass into nonexistence a million years before the next intelligent life.
We’ve only been able to explore the stars for about 70 years and, even then, we can’t go very far. Maybe we’re missing the aliens by a million years, or maybe they just can’t see much past their own star system either. Maybe they’re in their stone age, and we’ll be gone by the time they get to space. It would be a real shame if the only thing aliens ever find a million years from now is Elon Musk’s damn car floating somewhere out near Alpha Centauri.