What are extraterrestrials

Extraterrestrials

An unknown, unidentified object in flight? In any case, this “UFO” over Germany was not built by extraterrestrials, but by humans.

Aliens are living things that are not from Earth. Some people claim they saw strange planes in the sky that were flown by aliens. Such “unidentified flight objects” are also called UFOs. There are scientists who use telescopes and antennas to search for extraterrestrial beings. But you haven't found any yet. It may be that aliens don't even exist.

Most scientists believe that the universe is so big that there can be life elsewhere. However, the distances between the stars are unimaginably great: That is why it is unlikely that we will ever meet extraterrestrials.

Even so, many people find it exciting to think about extraterrestrial life. That is why there are many books and films in which extraterrestrials are featured. These books and films belong to the science fiction genre, which is often about the future, science and traveling to other planets.

Is someone a liar if they want to see aliens?

During a war exercise: an American plane drops flares. From a distance or in the dark, one might wonder what the glowing things in the sky may be.

Especially after 1945, many people claimed they saw aliens or their spaceship. Such spaceships are often called "UFO". This is an abbreviation for "Unidentified Flight Object". Strictly speaking, that just means: You saw something that you couldn't really explain. Most of the time, the UFO turns out to be an airplane or something else made by humans.

Most of the people who talk about aliens and UFOs are lying. You want to make yourself important and interesting. Some earn a lot of money with their lectures. Because many listeners would like to believe in aliens who solve the problems on earth.

Some people report that they were abducted by aliens. Maybe they're just liars too. With some, however, you suspect something else: They have experienced something bad in their real life, for example bad people have done them violence. Your brain wants to forget that, however, and prefers to believe that the terrible extraterrestrials made it.

Since when do people speak of aliens?

The Greek philosopher Anaximander from the city of Miletus. He thought a lot about the world and also the sky.

Even in ancient times there were philosophers who thought about other worlds. Anaximander believed over 2500 years ago that other worlds with living beings came into being just like the earth. At that time, however, stories about beings in heaven mostly did not come from scientists, but from the world of legends. These beings resembled gods and spirits. Such stories about moon goddesses and horse-drawn carriages with which one travels to the sun are also known from other parts of the world, such as Asia or Africa.

Aristotle prevailed in ancient Greece. In his opinion, the earth was at the center of the universe. Everything that is heavy wants to get to this center. Water, air and fire are lighter and therefore further away from the center. The moon is the boundary between our earth, which is constantly changing, on which something grows and disappears, and the sky. In the sky, beyond the moon, however, the stars and planets are perfect and immortal.

Were Christians allowed to believe in extraterrestrials?

Even in the Middle Ages, people believed in Aristotle's worldview in Europe. Living beings did not fit in a heaven that was immortal. Besides, the people of Europe were Christians. They believed that God created the world and heaven. Then God created man. But the Bible says nothing about God doing the same thing several times, on different planets.

This map of the moon dates from 1645. It was drawn by the astronomer Johannes Hevelius.

Nevertheless, even in the Middle Ages there were philosophers who believed in extraterrestrial life. At least, so they said: God can do everything, then he can also create life elsewhere. Nikolaus von Kues said that there could be extraterrestrials on the moon and on the sun.

At the beginning of modern times, around 1500 or 1600, Aristotle's worldview was abolished. Astronomers like Nicolaus Copernicus took a closer look at the sky and found out that the earth is not in the center of the universe. If you no longer believed that, it was also easier to imagine that there are worlds like ours elsewhere.

The new worldview led to more stories being told about beings from other worlds. The French Cyrano de Bergerac, for example, wrote a novel in 1648 about a trip to the moon. De Bergerac was not interested in science, but loved making up the crazy life and society of the lunar people. He actually wanted to make fun of his own country, but didn't dare to speak of France.

What changed in the 19th century?

The astronomer Percival Lowell wrote in 1877 that he had seen "Martian channels". Others have already done that before him. In reality, it was probably just places on Mars that were of different brightness.

In the years after 1800 science made ever greater advances. The Briton Charles Darwin explained how life on earth could develop without a god. Therefore one could still imagine life on other worlds.

Astronomy found that there were many more stars in space than was previously thought. Some astronomers even thought they saw lines on the planet Mars. These lines are channels, i.e. artificially created rivers with which the Martians bring water from one place to another.

Since 1870, writers have increasingly come up with stories in which people travel to other worlds and meet living beings there. At Jules Verne's, adventurers can be shot at the moon with a cannon, at Herbert George Wells' Martians come to earth to conquer it.

What did scientists discover in the 20th century?

A photo of Mars taken by the Viking 1 spacecraft in 1976. There is no protective atmosphere on Mars. That is why there can be no life there, because certain rays of the sun would kill it.

Since around 1960, people learned to launch rockets into space. Some of them sent them to the moon and the planets closest to us, namely Mercury, Venus and Mars. It was soon found out that it was far too hot for living beings on Mercury and Venus. You are too close to the sun.

For a long time it was thought that one would most likely find life on Mars: maybe not beings like us, but bacteria. The Viking probe from 1976 found out that there is no life on Mars either. You certainly do not expect life on planets that are further away from the sun.

Another attempt to find out about extraterrestrials is to “eavesdrop” on the sky. Scientists use large devices to collect rays from space. In 1967, certain waves were received from the direction of a star that were regular. At first it was believed that they could be artificial - sent by aliens. It turned out: such waves are created naturally.

How likely is it that there is life elsewhere?

In 1961, the astronomer Frank Drake came up with a formula that can be used to calculate how many inhabited planets there are. To do this, you have to know how many suitable stars and planets there are. Then you guess on how many of these planets life arose.

The problem: you don't know any of that. However, in the years since around 1990, astronomers have discovered many planets orbiting alien stars. The more one finds of such "exoplanets", the more likely one suspects that there is extraterrestrial life.

However, the distances from star to star are very, very large. With the fastest spaceship imaginable, such a journey would take many thousands of years. And by the time you reach a strange star and its planets, life there may already have died out again. That is why most scientists believe in aliens, but not that they can visit us.

  • In Emilcin, Poland, a farmer allegedly saw aliens. This memorial reminds us of that.

  • This girl disguised herself as a little green man from Mars.

  • How a UFO would abduct a human, drawing


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