(1976 Movie Ad for Universal Picture, about the Lovable Extraterrestrial, ET)
(Click on link above for discovery at Lake Mono, California, home of the arsenic-munching germ)
Recently, scientists made a huge discovery right here in the United States–a new bacterium was found in a lake in California. This new microbe has been growing and multiplying for millennia, probably, but they’ve just noted it.
This piece of news is all the more spectacular in that we’re always off to far-flung regions, via satellites, spaceships, and the like, harvesting data and looking for life forms, elsewhere. When we can’t travel to those places, physically, we go via the Hubble telescope…searching…searching for elusive life forms.
But then scientists found a unique one—right under their terrestrial noses!
The new microbe lives on arsenic. That’s right: The element that kills the rest of us is sucked into its system where it turns it into a life-forming force. These strange organisms don’t share our requirement of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorous, etc. (the six, that in addition to proteins and limpids, make up DNA, the stuff of life as we know it).
The newly-discovered bacterium killed the “as we know it” part of that equation, blowing a hole in it the size of Jupiter.
People have speculated, for years, as to whether life’s possible elsewhere. Eyewitness accounts abound of unidentified objects that appear to hover and shoot off at blinding speed. Some are the stuff of legend (“Incident in Exeter” is a book about a spate of UFO’s over the skies in New Hampshire, in 1965). There have been many more since.
But here’s what I think: The belief that we human beings are the apex of some genetic totem pole, a superior splash of genetic code, in the cosmos, is disingenuous at best, egomaniacal at worst. Pardon me, but why can’t that life exist, elsewhere, on something other than earth’s elements?
Author HG Wells promulgated that theory years ago when he wrote “War of the Worlds,” chronicling attack on Earth from extraterrestrial forces (they didn’t look like us at all.) Actor Orson Welles made the invasion by giant aliens real when he narrated the infamous radio program whose listeners missed the periodic warning: “This is fiction.” They wrought more havoc on the city (as they attempted escape) than the fictional enemy.
Wells also wrote 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea about an underwater mobile craft (harbinger to the submarine) that battled giant sea creatures believed to gobble whole ships. Since his fictional account, scientists have discovered evidence suggesting such creatures may exist in the depths of our oceans.
In other words, just because we haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it can’t exist.
Finally, if life exists elsewhere, why would they look like us? After all, they’d live in a decidedly different environment. For instance, maybe they’d lack that mass of cartilage and bone that we call “a nose,” since they wouldn’t require oxygen. Maybe they wouldn’t need a shell of skin to hold in their wet parts (the human body is comprised of 60% water). Their composition is probably waaayyy different.
One man who debunks the theory of intelligent life elsewhere is none other than Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” who’s a frequent guest on Larry King. In Doubting Thomas mode, he mocks those who profess to have seen something (UFO’s) with capabilities far beyond anything known, on Earth. He calls their witness accounts “too great a leap from uncertainty to proof (they’re craft from other worlds).”
He’s infuriating for for his arrogance in assuming “We’re ‘it’.”
I prefer to think we inhabitants of Earth are mere toddlers or teen-agers in our maturational history. This would explain our disrespect towards others and our rebellious attitude; those traits come with the territory.
In other words, Biddy believes we’ll ultimately head toward a higher life form of tolerance and respect for one another. Maybe, then, we’ll all be like the cute little fellow in the movie ad above.
Not too shabby a future, for we all loved him.
(“The Science Guy,” Bill Nye, mocks highly-credentialed guests on Larry King Live who’ve seen what they cannot explain)