Tag: Universe

Extraterrestrial Life is More Likely Than You Think

By William Ramage | United States

Extraterrestrial life has long been a well-debated topic. It is a commonly held belief that there is no possibility of life outside our own planet, when in reality there are millions, if not billions, of possible life-supporting planets. Additionally, it is possible that extraterrestrial life does not follow the same basis of life we do. For example, foreign life may not need water and oxygen, but rather could be sustained by different elements or compounds. The universe is such a vast, unexplored region, that the mere statistical chances for life other than us are so high, we can almost be certain of them.

Despite the universe being so immense and unmapped, humanity has already discovered many possible Earth-like planets, analyzing not even a fraction of the universe. We have even discovered possible life-supporting planets where we may have been reluctant to look.  For example, NASA found a very strong candidate not far from us. An American probe, Cassini recorded jets of water squirting from cracks known near the south pole of Enceladus — evidence, scientists say, of an underground ocean kept warm and liquid. The possession of water makes Enceladus a very strong candidate to support life. Water is one of the main factors that currently determines if an area can sustain life, and since Enceladus contains an underground ocean that is heated, any life forms living inside are protected from the harsh outside elements. This also expands far past one potential life-bearing planet. At first glance, Enceladus did not appear at all to be Earth-like, but at a closer look, it is. Given this, we may be overlooking many planets that have the potential to host life.

Some argue that all life must follow the same guidelines as life on Earth when in reality it is very feasible that life may not follow any of the guidelines we think to be true. It is such a strange subject to think about, yet it is a very possible factor in our search for extraterrestrial life. The very definition of life is tricky, since scientists have only one example from which to draw conclusions, and that’s Earth life. If this comes to be true, possibilities of life may be endless. We could find life anywhere which once seemed completely improbable. Unearth-like life may not rely on any water, may not rely on any oxygen, and may not have any organic compounds. We think we know so much about life, and we’re just assuming all life is like ours, but once we discover more about our universe, we will uncover more and more solutions to these issues, and also uncover new mysteries.

With all of this being said, probability is still one large factor in finding extraterrestrial life. The possibility of any life other than ours in the universe can be determined by one equation–and the results are shocking. Using the Drake equation, Scientists at the University of Washington came to the conclusion that the chance that we are alone in the universe is one in ten billion trillion. Based on this knowledge, it seems almost impossible for other life not to exist. Knowing this, we may become more enthusiastic to search for life. A newfound enthusiasm paired with such a high chance of coming to a successful conclusion will fuel and motivate our search for life.


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Post-Scarcity is Utopian and Unattainable in Society

By Casey Ward | United States

In today’s world of identity politics, there are many views on how the world should be run. During this debate, however, scarcity is often ignored when calculating the opportunity cost of different policies.

Scarcity and Post-Scarcity in the Modern World

The best example of ignoring scarcity in our time is universal healthcare. Essentially, the supply of healthcare is less than the demand for it. While we all agree that everyone should have access to healthcare, the fact remains that we cannot provide such a system without violating someone else’s rights.

This means that the only way universal healthcare can actually work is if we lived in a post-scarcity society, which will likely never happen. Since the universe, as far as we know, is finite, we cannot have infinite resources.

Scarcity, Capitalism, and Communism

However, if we factor for scarcity, it becomes clear that communism vs capitalism is a fool’s choice. If you boil it down, the main desire of communism is that the workers collectively control the means of production. In a free market system, individuals privately own the means of production in search of a profit. Capitalism is naturally voluntary, and over time, lowers prices to all individuals. On the other hand, when universal healthcare forces the creation of price ceilings, the market is thrown out of equilibrium. This, as a result of scarcity, creates a shortage.

Take, for example, medishare or any other voluntary cooperative. It is jointly run by its members in order to reach a mutual goal. With a group incentive of paying off medical bills, each individual is able to thrive. Yet, they do so without giving up their rights.

On the other hand, coercive social programs offer no incentive for success. For instance, the state prohibits people on disability from having another income source. By providing a service, but requiring no contribution, government cannot cover the demand with enough supply. The same is true with all modern safety nets. Social security costs more than what is being put in, and thus, supply cannot cover demand.

Is Post-Scarcity Possible?

Anarchists often leave out this important factor of scarcity as well. This is why Elon Musk’s utopian post-scarcity anarchism will never work. Post-scarcity is not achievable since it neglects two very important and rather scarce items, time and energy. Both are vital to our life, but neither are infinite. 

We all seek a longer life and yet extending our life is painstakingly slow. The few results we do see are miniscule, compared to the age of the universe. Even if we did find the cure to our mortality, we would die. It would just come at the eventual day when the stars burn through their fuel, leaving us without energy.

“When I can build anything I want whenever I want it, there’s no real point in using force to maintain control over a surplus.” -Human Iterations

Post-scarcity solving the need for a surplus, (as Iain M. Banks describes in his series called “The Culture”) is Musk’s eventual utopian goal. However, this simply will never occur, even in an immortal world. If someone knows that the universe is dying, they would stockpile materials to prolong the inevitable a little longer.

At the end, that would nullify any post-scarcity attempts. Without a doubt, the two most important things to our survival are going to disappear. All ideologies must address scarcity, but how we do so could change the world. The choice comes down to the market. Do we allow nature to take its course and seek an equilibrium? Or, is it justifiable to allocate some resources to benefit a group of people at the expense of others? Only the former recognizes the equal rights of all.


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