November 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
When I first began to comprehend the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, I thought of the stereotypical images of aliens that probably come to mind when the word is mentioned. By this, I mean something that is easily recognized to be alive, a humanoid form with many of the same characteristics that we share. As I gained more knowledge, I gradually came to realize that those images that I had of life on other worlds were actually less bizarre than many of the forms of life that we know to exist on this world. (Just take a look at something like the giant isopod if you doubt me). This got me thinking – what would it take for an alien from outside of this world to be stranger, more incomprehensible than anything we could find here? There have been some examples of such creatures in some of the stories we have read, such as the energy being in Kyrie or the godlike being of Arena. However, both these creatures were detectable by human beings to some extent. But what if there were entities even stranger, to the level, that we couldn’t even be able to identify them as being alive? For example, there could be beings made up of dark matter and energy whom we could never interact with, and to whom our universe is just as invisible are theirs is to us. Or there could be creatures that could potentially be composed of antimatter, but with whom any direct contact would be precluded by the fact that this would annihilate both parties. Maybe particles at the quantum level are somehow sentient, and what seems to us random chance and clouds of probability whose final state is ultimately dependent on our own observations are actually conscious decisions of living beings that we cannot understand. Or perhaps the entire universe is alive in a way similar to Ursula K. Le Guin’s planet, and we are simply endosymbionts. Are any of these creatures even possible? I believe that we can never know. The paradox of having a radically different alien life-form is that we would never be able to determine whether it actually existed or not, because the nature of its existence would be fundamentally different from ours. So to me, the strangest alien would be one that we could never know existed.
-pacopal (Rahul Pathak)