Example research essay topic: The Possibility Of Other Beings In Our Universe – 1,127 words

The view of Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch
mathematician and physicist who discovered Saturns
moon Titan in 1655, was as follows: Now can anyone
look upon, and compare these systems (of Jupiter
and Saturn) together, without being amazed at the
vast magnitude and noble attendants of these two
planets, in respect of this little pitiful Earth
of ours? Or can they force themselves to think,
that the wise Creator has disposed of all his
animals and plants here, has furnished and adorned
this spot only, and has left all those worlds bare
and destitute of inhabitantsor that all those
prodigious bodies were made only to twinkle to,
and be studied by some few perhaps of us poor
fellows? (qtd. in Sagan, Cosmos 130) Millions of
dollars and many brilliant minds have long been
dedicated to unlocking the great mysteries of the
universe. Perhaps the greatest mystery is whether
or not life exists on planets other than Earth.
Plato, Epicurus, Isaac Newton, and Benjamin
Franklin all shared a belief in extraterrestrial
civilization (Search par.10). Due to newfound
understandings of the size and complexity of the
universe, the current knowledge of life and its
ability to thrive in even the most extreme
circumstances, and lack of a reasonably
unquestionable skeptical view, the answer to Are
We Alone? is undoubtedly no. The sheer size of the
universe presents unlimited possibilities for
extraterrestrial life. There are an estimated one
hundred billion (100,000,000,000) galaxies in the
universe (By the Numbers).

The Milky Way galaxy,
which houses the solar system that is home to
Earth, is some 100,000 light years across (1 light
year is equivalent to 5.9 trillion miles). It
contains approximately four hundred billion
(400,000,000,000) stars (Chyba par.18). Among the
factors used to determine how suitable a star is
for supporting habitable planets are energy,
gravity, and life spans of these stars as relative
to time necessary for the evolutionary process to
take place (Brownsberger). There are seven main
spectral classifications, including (listed from
hottest and largest to coolest and smallest) types
O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. Types O and B, which make
up less than two percent of the four hundred
billion stars in our galaxy, are the only classes
believed to be incapable of supporting life
(Zubrin 232). Type G stars, the same type as our
very own Sun, number around a couple hundred
million inside the confines of the Milky Way
(Morrison par.5).

In order for life to exist, not
only must there be stars, but there must also be
planets. In April of 1999, astronomers announced
the first discovery of a solar system other than
our own. This solar system consists of three large
planets that orbit the star Upsilon Andromedae,
forty-four light years away (Astronomy par.1). In
August of 2000, scientists discovered that the
star Epsilon Eridani, which lies a mere 10.5 light
years from Earth, harbors a planet. It could even
harbor another solar system (Cowen par. 2).

Thanks
to new Doppler techniques, the technology of
direct orbit wobble viewing, and other methods
used by astronomers, there is now evidence of some
twenty extra-solar planets. This sample suggests
that somewhere between ten and a hundred million
solar systems could be found in the Milky Way
galaxy around Sun-like stars (Morrison par.8). As
Carl Sagan so eloquently stated: Despite its
10,000-million-mile diameter, the solar system is
dwarfed by the Milky Way galaxy to which it
belongs. But the Milky Wayis only a mote in the
universe. There are thousands of millions of such
galaxies, most with their own myriad stars having
their own planetary systems. If only 1/10,000 of 1
percent of these planets harbor a civilization and this is a very conservative estimate the
universe must teem with more than 100 million
million civilizations.

(Planets par. 21) It has
already been proven, by scientific experiments
involving Mars Jars, that many earthly
micro-organisms are capable of surviving under
Martian conditions, including extreme cold,
dryness, and variance in atmospheric pressure and
composition (par. 9). Here on Earth, life is known
to flourish in the most extreme environments,
including lava-spewing volcanoes, nuclear reactor
cores, and layers of subzero arctic ice (Origins:
Astrobiology par.2). Life on Earth is well-adapted
because this is where it has always been.
Naturally, life forms originating on another
planet would be well-adapted to that planet as
well (Sagan, Cosmos 14). Is it not reasonable to
assume that life originating elsewhere in the
universe would be no less adaptable to extreme
heat, cold, and even radioactivity than life on
Earth? Many believe liquid water and oxygen to be
necessary factors in the existence of life.

But if
terrestrial organisms exist that are capable of
thriving without free oxygen, why wouldnt
extraterrestrial organisms be capable of this same
feat? This, of course, is assuming that they dont
require some other form of gas for respiration.
The same can reasonably be said for liquid water.
Perhaps alien life forms are capable of retaining
a water supply in their tissues and acquiring
alternate forms of water from the environment
(Sagan, Planets par. 9). Thus far, scientists are
only able to study and compare life on Earth. This
gives them a very limited knowledge when viewing
life on a cosmic level (Sagan, Cosmos 4). Many
scientists harbor a belief in subsurface life
forms, which may inhabit places such as Mars and
the moons of Jupiter. It is already known that
there is a subsurface biosphere on Earth that
possibly equals or even exceeds the mass of all
organisms on Earths surface.

This certainly
supports the possibility of subsurface life on
Mars or Jupiters moons (Chyba par. 5). The Galileo
spacecraft has shown evidence for oceans beneath
the ice surfaces of the Jupiter moons Europa,
Callisto, and Ganymede. Since liquid water is
necessary for life on Earth, proof of liquid water
on these moons greatly increases the chance of
extraterrestrial life in our solar system (Naeye).
Terrestrial life is based on organic molecules,
which are now known to be plentiful throughout
space (Chyba par. 2). Radio emission lines shown
by gas clouds prove this presence of carbon
compounds (Morrison par.

9). And though the
presence of these molecules and compounds
certainly does not prove that life exists in outer
space, it is definitely a foundation for it.
Biophysicist Stuart Kauffman believes that life is
an unavoidable result of chemistry (Search par.
31). The chemistry is undoubtedly there. Though
the argument for the possibility of alien life
forms throughout the universe is quite strong,
there are still many opponents. The most often
used reasoning by these skeptics is known as the
Fermi Paradox, which asks the seemingly simple
question, Where are they? Physicist Enrico Fermi
proposed that in the suspected 12-15 billion-year
age of the universe, sentient alien life forms
have had more than ample time to spread throughout
the galaxy, colonizing habitable planets. This
would naturally include Earth (Shostak).

There are
ma ….

Research essay sample on The Possibility Of Other Beings In Our Universe