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Humans would be ‘pretty upbeat’ to news of alien life: Study

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas

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The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human-made synthetic life.
The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human-made synthetic life. Wikimedia Commons
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  • Existence of alien life is always been a subject of curiosity
  • Language in the coverage of these events showed significantly more positive than negative emotions
  • Participants’ responses showed significantly more positive than negative emotions, both when contemplating their own reactions and those of humanity as a whole

Have you wondered how would people react if scientists ever detect alien life in the universe? Humans would be “pretty upbeat” and welcome the news, finds a study.

Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news, but until now, there has been almost no systematic empirical research.

In a pilot study, scientists at the Arizona State University analysed various media reports of “alien announcements”, including the appearance of the “alien” interstellar asteroid Oumuamua, that suggest the potential for alien life in our solar system.

Also Read: Are we alone in the Universe or there is Alien life? Astronomers spot nearby Star with seven Earth-size Planets

Language in the coverage of these events showed significantly more positive than negative emotions.

“If we came face to face with life outside of Earth, we would actually be pretty upbeat about it,” said assistant professor Michael Varnum.

Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news.
Various studies have in the past speculated about how humans might respond to this kind of news. Wikimedia Commons

The results are in stark difference to the warnings from scientist Stephen Hawking who thinks aliens will not like being contacted by humans and that if we ever try to contact them they could kill humans.

In another two separate studies, nearly 1,000 people were asked to write about their own hypothetical reactions to an announcement that alien microbial life had been discovered, as well as to write about their reactions on past news coverage of scientific discoveries.

Participants’ responses showed significantly more positive than negative emotions, both when contemplating their own reactions and those of humanity as a whole.

Also Read: Search for alien life got exciting new leads this year

The positive effect was stronger in response to reading about extraterrestrial life than human-made synthetic life.

The studies suggest that “if we find out we’re not alone, we’ll take the news rather well,” Varnum said.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas. (IANS)

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Superstar Eta Carinae’s Cosmic Rays May Reach Earth: Study

Astronomers know that cosmic rays with energies greater than one billion electron volts (eV) come to us from beyond our solar system.

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Superstar Eta Carinae's Cosmic Rays May Reach Earth: Study
Superstar Eta Carinae's Cosmic Rays May Reach Earth: Study. Pixabay

Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light years, is accelerating particles to speeds comparable to that of light — some of which may reach Earth as cosmic rays, suggests a new study.

“We know the blast waves of exploded stars can accelerate cosmic ray particles to speeds comparable to that of light, an incredible energy boost,” said the lead author of the study Kenji Hamaguchi, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Similar processes must occur in other extreme environments. Our analysis indicates Eta Carinae is one of them,” Hamaguchi said.

Astronomers know that cosmic rays with energies greater than one billion electron volts (eV) come to us from beyond our solar system.

But because these particles — electrons, protons and atomic nuclei — all carry an electrical charge, they veer off course whenever they encounter magnetic fields. This scrambles their paths and masks their origins.

For this study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers used data from NASA’s NuSTAR space telescope.

Launched in 2012, NuSTAR can focus X-rays of much greater energy than any previous telescope.

Using both newly taken and archival data, the team examined NuSTAR observations acquired between March 2014 and June 2016, along with lower-energy X-ray observations from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton satellite over the same period.

“We’ve known for some time that the region around Eta Carinae is the source of energetic emission in high-energy X-rays and gamma rays,” said Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR.

Carina Nebula
Carina Nebula. Pixabay

“But until NuSTAR was able to pinpoint the radiation, show it comes from the binary and study its properties in detail, the origin was mysterious,” said Harrison, who also serves as a professor of astronomy at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.

Eta Carinae, located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, is famous for a 19th century outburst that briefly made it the second-brightest star in the sky.

This event also ejected a massive hourglass-shaped nebula, but the cause of the eruption remains poorly understood.

The system contains a pair of massive stars whose eccentric orbits bring them unusually close every 5.5 years.

Also read: Brain Damage Caused by Cosmic Rays Can be Prevented With this Drug

The stars contain 90 and 30 times the mass of our Sun and pass 225 million km apart at their closest approach — about the average distance separating Mars and the Sun. (IANS)