Astrobiology: From the Editors’ Desk, Part Four

Opinions part four: Syed Muneeb Ali, blogger and science writer, speaks about Astrobiology.

Following the theme of our Astrobiology edition, we asked some renowned personalities of Pakistan to share their views on man’s search for life. In this part, we have Syed Muneeb Ali, science writer and blogger, answer our questions.

Questions on Astrobiology

  • 1.     How do you view astrobiology? What will be your definition of it?
  • 2.     How many chances are there for the existence of ExtraTerrestrial life and has it made any contact with us yet?
  • 3.     What do you think about the “WOW Signal” and other theories about regarding aliens?
  • 4.     What can life look like on other planets? Can it be like what we see in popular culture or not?
  • 5.     Should we able to unravel the mysteries about our origin on this planet after learning about ExtraTerrestrial life? How can it be so?

Also Read: Dr. Farrukh Shahzad on Astrobiology

Syed Muneeb Ali is an award-winning science writer, blogger and science communicator. He’s the general secretary of Astrobiology Network of Pakistan (ABNP) and is very much interested in spreading awareness regarding Astronomy and Science in Pakistan. Here is what he had to say:

1. To me, Astrobiology is the name of the process to analyze your favorite candy in the jar full of different types of candies. We don’t know which candy is up next to be discovered but currently, the main focus of Astrobiologists is to find the carbon-based candy in the jar because their home is the most accessible laboratory to test it.

2. I think there is extraterrestrial life exist everywhere in the Universe but why they haven’t made contact us? There are two reasons for it:

– First, we have vast cosmic distances due to which we can’t view that “real-time picture” of the Universe and if there are some humans on some habitable planet of a Star orbiting in the galactic habitable zone around the black hole of the galaxy “CLASS B1152+199” (A galaxy 5 billion light-years away from the Earth) watching the region where our solar system lies, they’ll have no idea of our G2V Star (Sun) and our home planet – The Earth! They’ll only be seeing some gas cloud in its condensing phase. So, due to the limit which nature has put on us – “speed of light”, we’ll or they’ll not be able to contact each other.

Alpha Centauri is the nearest star and can help us in unlocking the mysteries of Astrobiology
Alpha Centauri

– Second, there is a possibility that we might have life on the planets around the nearest star “Alpha Centauri” BUT based on some element other than carbon. So, there will be a difference in their contact-making and our contact-making ability.

3. When I read about the WOW signal for the very first time, it surprised me really! But after some time, I was also started to think that it might not be from some alien source instead it can be a reflected signal from space of some Earth-based source. If that radio telescope was placed in the vastness of space, then we can think of some alien thing in that unaltered environment.

4. We often hear the life “extraterrestrial life” on the web but I think it should be Extraterrestrial “microbial” life because, although we haven’t discovered in our solar system, life signatures which we’ve found give us the direction of simpler life form which was the case with our planet about 4.3 billion years ago. So, yes, if there are earth conditions on some planet and that planet has spent about 4 billion years, then we might think of some complex multicellular life forms like us.

5. To me, the answer is yes. The Universe is the laboratory for testing everything to the limit of violation of laws which are made by the Universe, with time, to stabilize itself. For example, take Enceladus, the moon of planet Saturn. We can suspect what would be happening on Earth about 4.3 billion years ago. On Venus, we can see what will happen to the planet earth due to extreme global warming conditions in the future. So, can study Origin (on Enceladus, Europa or in similar condition today on Earth), development (on Earth), and future of life on this planet! I’d like to share the quote by Carl Sagan which inspires me a lot: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting for you to be known”.

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