Why we’ll probably never meet aliens

Space is big, really big. Most of us grew up with programmes like Star Trek or movies like Star Wars and Dune. In such shows there is some mysterious, unexplained warp drive (or some such) which enables travel over vast distances of space in short periods of time. In other words, in the future a way to travel faster than the speed of light is discovered. Sort of.

But what if that’s no possible? What if the speed of light is a hard upper bound that we’ll never be able to get past?

This video (which was originally posted on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/117815404) shows what it would look like travelling from the Sun to Jupiter at the speed of light. It’s pretty boring.

First of all, it takes about eight minutes just to get to the earth and about an hour to get to Jupiter. Secondly, there’s not a lot to look at along the way.

But the video very strongly makes the point that the universe is HUGE.

I think it’s very likely that life has developed elsewhere in the universe, even in our galaxy. I hope that, in my lifetime, we detect signals from an alien civilisation. But I doubt we’ll ever meet them or even be able to have a conversation. The distances are vast, even a radio signal takes over four years to get to the next closest solar system. We may not be alone but we might as well be.