December 2, 2020

Secrets of the sky: making the case for aliens

Amanda Keefe is a senior journalism major and manging editor for The Journal

Aliens exist.
There is legitimate evidence to support such a claim, and no, I’m not talking about the countless stories of farmers getting abducted in fields or little green men probing nobodies in their “special places.”
Alien existence goes far back — back thousands of years ago when civilizations were just beginning and technology was limited.
There’s no irrefutable evidence to prove their existence, but taking a look back in history, into science and up to the skies helps to shed light on a common, centuries-old question.
Ancient Alien Theory, a theory that developed through the idea that life exists on other planets, suggests that aliens (with superior knowledge, specifically in technology and engineering) crossed paths with humans thousands of years ago.
In 1968, author and “father” of the ancient alien theory, Erich von Däniken, suggested in his bestseller “Chariots of the Gods?” that there are two types of evidence to support this theory.
The first type of evidence is seen through ancient religious texts, and describes humans witnessing and interacting with gods or beings who descended from the sky and whose power was much greater than that of man’s. As an example, ancient Sumerian cuneiform etchings in stone tell stories of the culture’s gods, the Anunnaki, which literally means “those who from the heavens came down.” In the text, it is explained that Sumerians didn’t develop their culture themselves, but were merely the inheritors of what was given to them by the long-lived, ancient Anunnaki.
The second type of evidence is physical, tangible; unexplained phenomena like Stonehenge, Egypt’s pyramids, carvings on cave and stone depicting alien-like figures (with bulbous heads and big eyes), and designs or structures that can only really be appreciated from the sky (the Nazca Lines in southern Peru, for example, are a series of ancient designs spanning more than 50 miles that include drawings of animals, birds, humans and geometric shapes, some measuring more than 600 feet across).
Phenomena like the Nazca Lines beg the question, “How could humans have created these without any means to reach the sky, and without the advanced technology it would take to create them?”
Von Däniken believes aliens aided humans in creating such wonders — the aliens had the technology and the intelligence, facets the human race lacked in its infancy. This could be a strong contributor to the majority of ancient civilizations worshipping “gods from the heavens.”
It’s no accident that many ancient civilizations (the Mayans, the Incans and the Egyptians, to name a few) structured their cities, their culture and their lives to honor these beings from above. Need examples?
Mayan ruler Pacal the Great was buried in a tomb with intricate etchings of the ruler taking off in what ancient alien theorists believe is a ship (no, really). Pacal is depicted sitting slanted, as if gravity is pulling his body back, with his hand on what looks like a control panel, his foot on a pedal and an oxygen tube in his mouth. The four edges of the tomb are carved in sections, each section with a  symbol depicting different planets, the moon and the sun, to name a few. (You can look up the image of Pacal’s tomb on Google).
Centuries later, the Space Race of the 1960s planted the idea of alien-human contact in society and in the media. And when NASA did finally send satellites to other planets, and eventually a man to the moon, the question arose: If we can travel to other planets, could extraterrestrials travel to ours?
History shows us that it’s possible, but recent findings in science brings the idea of extraterrestrial life past possibility and into, dare I say it, actuality.
A June 2010 article in the U.K.’s Telegraph reported that NASA scientists discovered evidence of alien life on Titan, one of Saturn’s largest moons.
Data from NASA’s Cassini probe analyzed the chemistry on the surface of Titan, the only moon with a dense atmosphere to surround Saturn. Their findings suggest that life forms may have been breathing in the atmosphere. Two study papers were written on the evidence — one shows that the hydrogen gas flowing throughout Titan’s atmosphere disappears at the surface, inferring that alien life forms can, in fact, use up the chemical by breathing, as humans do; the second concluded that there was a lack of hydrogen on the surface, leading scientists to believe it had most assuredly been consumed by life.
Astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, Chris McKay, was quoted in the article, saying, “We suggested hydrogen consumption because it’s the obvious gas for life to consume on Titan, similar to the way we consume oxygen on Earth.” And NASA has dabbled in such things before. Check out George H. Leonard’s analysis of moon-probe photos titled “Someone Else is on the Moon.”
I’ve only scratched the surface of the mounting evidence regarding the existence of alien life, and there are probably stronger, more compelling suggestions on such a complex issue.  Scientists and open-minded individuals will tell you that it would be naïve to rule out the possibility that there is life beyond what we know on Earth. Surely we’re not so selfish to believe we’re the only living existence in the vast and infinite universe.
I’m not asking that you take my word on it, or to alter your views of a fairly controversial subject. I’m only asking that you consider it — consider what exists beyond our skyline.

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