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Weekly Digest #92

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In this digest-


1. Article- The search for our extraterrestrial friends


2. Happiness Quotient From Around The World


3. Did You Know?


4. Entertainment Quotient




-Cover Story-

The Search For Our Extraterrestrial Friends

By: Mihir Rao

Aliens flood the media nowadays, being in many movies and shows, which lead us to wonder if we really are alone. Of course, due to the massive size of the universe, the chance of us being the only intelligent species is near zero, but there are a lot of questions related to this.


A brief recap of the Fermi Paradox:


In 1950, Enrico Fermi proposed a paradox comparing the large amount of mathematical and scientific proof of aliens, with the stark lack of any evidence of them. If there truly are aliens, why haven’t they come calling yet?


There are some solutions to the Fermi Paradox:


1 . The Great Filter

The Great Filter is a proposed solution to the Fermi Paradox, which talks about evolutionary ‘hurdles’ that a civilisation must pass through to evolve and become more intelligent. Things like surviving a pandemic, evading natural disaster or even putting a stop to it entirely constitute ‘filters’ that civilisations have to pass through. This theory posits that many civilisations have not been able to flourish due to them not being able to pass some hurdles.


2. Superiority

This theory posits that alien civilisations that are present currently, are extremely advanced, and hence do not have any desire to communicate with humans, since they are superior technologically.


3. Dark Forest Theory

This theory is quite creepy.. It posits that aliens are purposely silencing their communications to prevent an aggressive alien civilization from ever knowing that they exist, for the purpose of surviving.


Scientists are currently looking for aliens, but not in a conventional way. Instead of using normal methods, they are looking for factors which could enable a civilisation to prosper. These factors include:


The Goldilocks Zone:

A lot of planets orbit their home star at a certain distance, which is extremely important for the temperature and properties of the planet. If the planet is at a certain distance from its home star where it’s not too far away such that the planet would freeze and not too close so that the planet would be too hot for life to evolve, then it is in a zone called the Goldilocks Zone.


Climate:

The Climate of a planet is extremely important for the development and survival of any species. For example, due to the extremely strong winds on Neptune, it would make it near-impossible for life to evolve.




Temperature:

The temperature is one of the most important factors in the evolution of a civilisation. Many ice ages in our civilisations have almost made humans extinct! Planets like Mercury and Venus have temperatures where it would be extremely hard for life to evolve.


Atmosphere:

The atmospheric composition of a planet is extremely crucial to the evolution of life too. Earth’s atmosphere consists of many elements, many of them aiding our survival! For example, ozone blocks harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, and the oxygen and carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is essential for flora and fauna to survive.


Another thing which scientists use to search for aliens is the signature they leave. These come of mainly two types: Technosignatures and biosignatures.


Technosignatures:

These are technological signs of life, which include space debris, artificial satellites, etc.



Biosignatures:

These are biological signs of life. When life exists on a planet, it produces certain biproducts which can be observed. This could be found through chemical compounds in the planet’s atmosphere which can’t be generated normally. An example of this could be the presence of methane or oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere. Though the presence of biosignatures isn’t cold hard proof that there is life there, it is evidence that needs to be investigated more.


Some planets have been already on the watchlist for life, such as Kepler 186-f, Gliese 581g, and Gliese 667Cc. For now, all we can do is wait and hope that we can meet our extra-terrestrial neighbours soon!


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By: Abhimanyu Rao



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By: Agastya Rao






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