How will you react if the Kepler Mission discovers another 'earth'?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-03-15

For God believers, the question has been asked throughout the ages — did God really create that entire universe just for us? Are there other people like us in other ‘earths’ somewhere out there?

The launch last March 6 of the Kepler Telescope on board a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida may soon provide the answer to that question that has stirred the curiosity and interest of many a writer.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Associate Administrator Ed Weiler described the Kepler launch as more than just a science mission but a historic one as it attempts to answer the centuries old question: “Are we alone?”

Equipped with a special telescope, the Kepler satellite will probe 100,000 stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the Milky Way for the next three years as it trails Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The Kepler Mission ends in 2013 and the project was budgeted at US$600 million.

The Kepler Mission — named after the 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler who was the first to explain planetary motion — will attempt to verify the belief that there are over 100 billion earth-like planets in the Milky Way which is estimated to be one for every sun-type star in the galaxy.

The NASA did not want to unduly raise public expectations. NASA was clear that what they are seeking are signs of life in other planets like water and plant life. However, that does not preclude the possibility that where such life exists, there could be human beings there too.

Of course, what were once the fantasies of creative minds like Leonardo Da Vinci and H. G. Wells have since come into fruition. Baby Boomers will recall sci-fi movies in the 1950s that fantasized live person to person conversations via audio-video link which are now easily done with computer technology. Many high tech gadgets that were featured in the early James Bond films are now mass consumer items.

But let’s not bother to belabor the scientific aspect of such a confirmation of the existence of another earth-like planet with human inhabitants. That is a matter best left to the scientists.

What should interest us is how this discovery will affect all our lives. Just think of the tremendous impact that discovery will have on people and countries. Expect outlooks, mindsets, prejudices and perspectives to radically change overnight.

Among the most interesting questions that will dominate the mind of earthlings will be the following:

1. Are they physically the same as us or are they the weird looking creatures that have been popularized by sci-fi movies and TV series?

2. How do they view us? Are they as blood thirsty as earthlings? Are they as inclined as us towards going to war and committing genocide?

3. Are they technologically superior as Martians have been projected in movies? If they are, how do we survive if they decide to invade earth?

4. How do they think? What is their philosophy in life? What is their concept of religion? Do they believe in God?

5. Does their planet have the rich natural resources like oil, gold, platinum and diamonds that we earthlings will die for?

By just confining ourselves to these five set of questions, we can already imagine the many changes the discovery introduces to our way of thinking.

If indeed they so happen to be technologically superior in war materiel and they are inclined, like us, to committing genocide — just imagine how that will affect superpower rivalry in our world. The Americans, Chinese, Koreans, Africans, Russians, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Tamils and all those who are engaged in armed conflict all over the world will have to realign their priorities and band together to face the bigger threat.

If they turn out to be technologically backward and their planet shows a tremendous supply of vital natural resources — will earth superpowers engage in the age-old bad habit of invading the weak and stealing their natural resources?

On the other hand, would not the sudden availability of platinum and gold in abundant quantity shake the values in our market place? Short supply is what drives prices upward. What happens when platinum and gold prices plummet? The world economy will have to undergo a sharp adjustment.

How will the other believers of other deities react if it turns out that the other ‘earthlings’ are Christians or vice versa? Will theism, the belief in a God, survive if the new ‘earthlings’ turn out to be atheists who can scientifically prove that there is no God?

What happens to murderers, crooks and plunderers if the more scientifically superior ‘earthlings’ have lie detectors that can visually show, as if on television, the truth that is contained in the mind of a person. Imagine Senate hearings on scams where those being investigated cannot hide the truth because it is clearly displayed on the lie detector video screen.

Imagine the effect on all businesses here if and when the new ‘earth’ shows far superior products than the ones we are buying today. Imagine the impact on the pharmaceutical firms and medical institutions if and when the new ‘earth’ shows scientific advancement that raises life expectancy to 180 years.

Come to think of it, not all those claimed UFO sightings could be mere figments of wild imaginations. One or two of those may have been true. Considering that these claimed sightings have been going on since the early 20th century - there is a great likelihood that these aliens, if they do exist, possess far more advanced technology.

Thus, it is also logical that they must possess a far more advanced civilization that is not marked by the lust for conquest and subjugation of weaker nations that has been the bane and the root cause of the misery of mankind.

In your case, how will you react if the Kepler Mission discovers another ‘earth’?

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