It is a question that has been asked for centuries since telescopes looked at Mars in the 1800s and men believed that they were seeing canals of water running along the surface. Men have tried to imagine what life would look like from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds to C.S. Lewis Silent Planet Trilogy. Are there other life in our vast universe or are we the only ones here?
It is hard to say where exactly the search for alien life had begun. People have always looked to the sky and wondered what was up there. The thought was not fully brought forward until The Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik on October 14, 1957. Barring the political ramifications of the launch, Sputnik and the resulting space race got the attention of the world.
The first dedicated search for alien life was the SETI Project established in November of 1984. Its goal was to find intelligence in the universe by using a set of satellite dishes around the world.
The first thing to come out of the SETI project was the Drake Equation. It was a probabilistic argument present at the first SETI meeting to estimate the number of communicative alien civilizations that could exist the galaxy. Though met with some complaints about its usefulness, especially when it came to creating an explicit value, it is used today to ask the question “if they are out there, why aren’t they talking to us?”
The search for life inside and outside our solar system will continue for many years to come and only time will tell if we are truly alone. Man will continue to dream and to build so one day those questions will be answered when our probes and our satellites reach the edges of other star systems and galaxies.