October 3, 2005

Locals Look for Aliens

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Images of Ithaca are on their way to Messier 13, a cluster of stars where aliens may possibly live.

Larry Klaes, a lifelong amateur astronomer and freelance writer, gave a seminar on Friday evening at the Cornell Observatory to offer evidence in support of the existence of aliens.

According to Klaes, many attempts have been made to contact aliens, such as a three-minute message with images of Ithaca relayed in 1974 to Messier 13, 24,000 light years away.

“I’m trying to introduce science in a fun way to society,” Klaes said. In an hour-long in-depth talk on aliens, Klaes tried to dispel popular myths about aliens and discuss the plausibility of life existing on another planet.

“The media doesn’t really depict how scientists view aliens. Aliens are not going to look like humans with funny noses,” he said.

Klaes stressed that aliens, should they exist, are most likely quite unrecognizable from anything living on earth.

Klaes drew many parallels between Earth and other planets and moons to illustrate why aliens may exist. Even though there are many extreme physical conditions characterizing other planets, such as 900°C temperatures on Venus and thick sheets of ice covering Europa – one of Jupiter’s many moons – there still remains a real possibility of organisms thriving under such conditions.

“Can organisms actually exist in water depths of more than two miles with no sunlight? Yes, it happens on Earth,” Klaes said.

According to Klaes, there is a wide variety of organisms of Earth living in extreme environments, lending support to the possibility that aliens may exist in harsh environments on other planets.

The talk, organized by the Cornell Astronomical Society (CAS), attracted an audience of students, professors and even children.

“It’s really interesting that there is a possibility that life on other planets can exist,” said Jennifer Bailard ’09, a member of CAS.

Klaes has been trying to bring space explorations to the attention of general public for some years now. This year was the second time he has given this talk on aliens.

“Cornell needs to do a better job of spreading the knowledge. Cornell has so many of the top scientists in the world, but the [general public] knows so little about them. I’d like to see it get out there,” he said.

“There are stereotypes about aliens generated by the media, such as inaccurate science-fiction shows. It’s all this nonsense that I want to dispel,” he added.

David Eisler ’07 said of the talk, “It was very informative and very interesting. This kind of seminar enables science to be brought to a popular audience.”

However, seven-year-old Sage Hurta remained unconvinced. Aspiring to be the first person to land on Mars, she laughed at the possibility of aliens existing on other planets.

Archived article by Nandita Garud
Sun Contributor