Irish Examiner View: We can’t be alone in this vast Universe...

When asked if we were now closer to answering the question: "Are we alone in the Universe?", Professor Brian Cox replied: “Yes”.
Irish Examiner View: We can’t be alone in this vast Universe...

Professor Brian Cox. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Are we alone in the Universe? The question was posed this week on the BBC by Professor Brian Cox. He was speaking after Nasa had released an image of far-flung galaxies as they were 13bn years ago.

The image was captured by the James Webb space telescope, the most powerful telescope ever launched into space.

Professor Cox, a physicist from Manchester University who is best known as the presenter of science programmes, said we were getting ever closer to the Big Bang, and the birth of the Universe.

Asked if we were now closer to answering his own question: "Are we alone in the Universe?", he replied: “Yes”.

Bill Nelson, administrator of Nasa, said the image from the telescope showed “we are looking back more than 13bn years”. He said the telescope could reach further back, to about 13.5bn years, close to the starting point of the Universe itself. “We are going back almost to the beginning,” he stated.

One of the reasons I was always a fan of the original Star Trek series (1966-68) was because the crew of the giant starship, the USS Enterprise, was on a mission to explore new worlds.

Under the leadership of Captain Kirk (William Shatner), their task was “to boldly go where no man has gone before” (which happens to be the most famous split infinitive in TV history).

The series (which is still being recycled on various TV channels) quickly attracted a hardcore of devoted fans, known as Trekkies, which has grown over the years.

And while I was never a Trekkie, I was drawn to Star Trek because it stimulated my interest in space, in other planets and far-off galaxies — and led to the inevitable question: “Is there intelligent life elsewhere?”

Given the enormity of the known Universe, and the millions of other planets, my guess (and it’s only a guess) is that one of those planets (and maybe more than one) is home to intelligent life. 

OK, we haven’t found it yet, but maybe one day.

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