We’re Not Alone

A day on Kepler 16b

“Discovering traces of life on Mars would be of tremendous scientific significance: The first time that any signs of extraterrestrial life had ever been detected. Many people would also find it heartening to learn that we’re not entirely alone in this vast, cold cosmos. ”

-Nick Bostrom

I can say with certainty I live on the most beautiful planet. Travel billions of light years far and wide into the depths of the universe but you’ll never find a planet as mesmerising as mine. I live on a planet which orbits two stars. It is called a binary system by scientists. But what the general folk love about Kepler 16b are the two sunrises and two sunsets seen daily. Being a part of two solar systems is a great deal in this universe. When I think of other rogue planets, their isolation saddens me. No parent star in close proximity. Like little kids running amok in the house in the absence of their parents.

When evening falls and sundown is a mere minutes away, I feel conflicted. Looking at the path the two fireballs trace in the sky, before finally disappearing from sight, I am in two minds. Which sun should I look at? It is the eternal dilemma of the residents of Kepler 16b. Even to the untrained eye, the difference is palpable. It’s not rocket science now, is it?

As I look at the sky, millions of ideas fill my head. The possibilities are endless. I wonder what the future of life on our planet is. We have come too far to fade into oblivion now.  Our kind is a gift of nature. Against billions of odds, we find ourselves living in a hauntingly beautiful corner of the universe. Our understanding is limitless from what I’ve seen. We can appreciate a myriad of ideas without necessarily accepting them. Such is the power of our mind. We have evolved from barbarians into civilians. Bloodlust has been replaced by our unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

What goes on beyond Kepler 16b’s sky? I wish to take flight in an interstellar spaceship and dive right into the unexplored depths. I want to experience what it’s like to travel beyond our solar systems (two stars, remember?) and peep outside Kepler 16b’s window into worlds never seen before. I want to find something to look at in this wide expanse of nothing. I feel like a little child wanting to peep into a newly opened candy shop. I don’t exactly know what’s in store for me but know enough to know it’s going to be something good.

We are on the threshold of technology where we can finally dream of going farther than what anyone ever imagined. I refuse to believe that we are alone in this world. We’re not alone. Billions of galaxies, millions of solar systems, trillions of planets. Perhaps one of them will harbour life. Statistically at least, the odds seem to be in our favour. Extra-terrestrial life. In a universe 93 billion light years wide and expanding at an accelerating rate as we speak, there has to be one little world, which houses life. Life as we know it. While we explore, we think of what life beyond this planet will be like.

I wasn’t to know then that almost two hundred light years away, on a planet called Earth, someone was thinking on similar lines. Intergalactic contact. One little sign of life elsewhere. Anywhere.


Source: NASA

Note: Kepler 16b is a half gas, half rock exoplanet on the fringes of the Goldilocks Zone. Multicellular organisms, especially as advanced as human beings are unlikely to exist but for this write-up, it has been assumed otherwise.


Note: All content copyright of Priya Dua

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