I was speeding north out of Los Angeles on the 5 freeway on a typical Southern California morning, when a flash of silver in the cloudless sky caught my attention The freeway was elevated above the valley floor, straight as an arrow, and I was doing 70 mph in my girlfriend's 1976 Chevrolet Chevette hatchback. I had an unobstructed view of the sky, but when I looked again there was nothing but pale blue. Then it flashed again, and again. And just as I started to ponder what it might be, my car's right rear window vent caught the air, snapped off, flipped in the slipstream and shattered on the pavement behind me. That sort of distracted me, and the driver behind me. And three hours later when I got home the first thing I told my girlfriend Samantha (now my wife), was the story of the busted window. As an afterthought a couple of hours later, I mentioned that I seen a UFO.
Any object you see in the sky which you cannot identify is a UFO. I didn't know what I had seen, but I knew I had not seen a flying saucer, as in something built by aliens to visit our world. I'm not crazy. And while watching the ten o'clock news that night my UFO was identified as a small home-built experimental “light” aircraft, flying out of Whiteman Airport, in Pacoma. The engine had suddenly quit, and the plane had spiraled into the ground, sadly, killing the pilot. Luckily, no one on the ground was injuried. Every time the spinning plane's wings caught the light, they flashed in my direction, otherwise it was too small and too far away for me to have seen. But what were the odds that I would have been in the right position and looking in the right direction during the 20 seconds it took that plane to fall three thousand feet? My sighting of that UFO was an extremely unlikely event, but far more likely than an alien spaceship visiting the earth.
Twenty percent of Amercians expect aliens to first land in Washington, D.C., which means that 20% of Americans are, in my opinion, too stupid to find their own feet in the dark. About one in three Americans believe in flying saucers. Almost half of the rest are too wussy to admit they have an opinion, while fewer than two in ten are brave enough to assert unequivactly that UFO's are not alien spacecraft. I say all of this not because I believe I am right, but because I know I am.
Just to leave the earth you have to be going 25,000 miles an hour, which is a very expensive and complicated thing to do. Now, aliens might come from a smaller planet with a lower escape velocity, but in that case they would have evolved smaller and weaker than we did. Leaving home is always difficult. . And as difficult as it is to go 7 miles a minute just to get off this rock, in terms of space travel, that is like parallel parking.
From the earth to the sun (also called an Astronomical Unit) is 93 million miles. It would take 176 years to drive to the sun in Sam's Chevette, and you would need a second driver and special glasses. Call them sun glasses. Neptune is 30.5 AU's from the sun, so just to get out of our solar system you would have to drive for 5,369 years. And that wouldn't get you out of your own backyard, speaking universally. The nearest star to our own sun, in other words the house next door, is Proxima Centuri, which is 15, 300 AU from our sun, which means it would take you 2, 692,800 years to drive there. And at 30 miles to the gallon on highway, that would be a very expensive trip for a Chevette.
Of course, the assumption is that aliens have warp-drive, or hyperdrive or star-drive to let them travel faster than the speed of light, and on a Saturday night future teenages will zip down to the McDonald's on Proxima Centuri just to hang out. And I wish that were true, I really do. I am a big Star Strek Next Generation fan. (Dr. Crusher was such a MLF.) But it ain't gonna happen, folks.
Let's say you wanted to build an intersellar Chevette. They weighed about 2,000 pounds, give or take a rear window vent or two, and in order get that hatchback into orbit would take 57,000 pounds of thrust, or a 28.5 to one ratio of thurst to weight. Now that ratio drops quickly the further you get from the center of the earth. But if you want to go faster the ratio starts to go back up, because - and hold on to your hat here – .
Fueling up your 2,000 pound Chevette to reach the speed of light would require 69 billion, 192 million pounds of thrust... except, as you go faster, the Chevette gets heavier. Which means you need more thurst, leading to more mass, requiring more thrust, making more weight, requiring more thrust, etc. ad nauseum. And remember, the heavier the Chevette gets, the amount of additional thrust required is always sqaured, (E=mc2) until the additional thrust required is infinite, more power than exists in the entire universe. And you reach that long before you get to the speed of light. In other words, not only can't you get there from here, you can't get there from anywhere.
Of course, science fiction writers envision a way of changing the rules of the game, by warping space, or using a convienent worm hole, but you might as well say going down the rabbit hole with Alice will get you to Proxima Centuri in five minutes flat. It might but nobody has actually seen a worm hole
I suspect that like a club where friendly beautiful naked woman gyrate for you, the enterance price requires you to hand over all your credit cards. And without a credit card, the women are no longer interested in dancing for you. Just getting into a worm hole requires you to get squished flat in a gravity field, or bombarded with enough radiation to make you transparent. Can I prove that? I don't need to. I'm not the one claiming there is a magical way of getting something for nothing out of the universe. You might was well ask a Republican for a universal health insurance.
Is there life on other planets? Of course there is. On this planet there is life boiling out of vents in the deepest part of the ocean, living things that have never seen sunlight, that find oxigen posionous, that eat acid and petroleum, and then poop hydrogen. Why wouldn't there be life on other planets? With an estimated 6 sextillion planets in the universe (that's a 6 followed by 21 zeros), it becomes certain that there is life out there, somewhere. But is also certain, they have not visited us because they cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Unlikely does not mean impossible, but impossible does not mean unlikely. It means impossible. And traveling faster than the speed of light is not impossible.