At Prince Law Firm, we’re proud to host an annual scholarship aimed to help students achieve their dreams and obtain a higher education. The Fall 2020 submission period just came to a close, and we were truly humbled by the quality applications we received. Thank you to everyone who applied! Your applications were a pleasure to read.
We’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen a winner.
Congratulations to Samantha Lopez of California!
Samantha will be attending the University of California-Los Angeles.
Here is the essay prompt:
What’s a mystery you’d like to solve, and how would you go about doing so?
Aliens: Do They Exist, or Are They Just Another Figment of the Human Imagination?
As a child, I relished watching astronomy-oriented documentaries on the Science Channel. I loved learning about everything from novas to black holes, and it amazed me how the scientists were so positive about their answers to extremely perplexing questions. Space wasn’t even tangible for them, yet they knew how stars formed and knew the chemical compositions of planets’ atmospheres. However, of course, there were some questions they couldn’t answer, like whether or not aliens exist. Years later, scientists still don’t know the answer to this question, and years later, I continue to wonder. Do I think extraterrestrial beings exist somewhere? Absolutely–the universe is too vast for intelligent life not to live thousands or millions of light-years away from us. If we developed from microbes, it would only make sense for an extraterrestrial civilization to develop form microbes. But alas, the answer to whether or not aliens are real has not been definitively proven or disproven. If I could settle the mystery though, I would likely do so through using the information that has amassed that suggests aliens exist— I’d investigate life on Mars or its moon Europa, figure out the origins of Fast Radio Bursts (are they aliens trying to communicate or another natural phenomenon), and investigate as many exoplanets as humanly possible.
One of the first methods by which I’d settle the questions of whether or not extraterrestrials exist is by investigating Mars or its moon Europa. Let’s first discuss Mars. According to various theories, Mars may have been home to life billions of years ago, far before the human race built the technology to investigate such things. Scientists believe that Mars was frozen over and that a vast build-up of greenhouse gases may have led to severe climate change that melted all the ice, giving way for vast oceans that may have given Mars its water-carved features, and that due to the unrelenting heat and climate change, all the water eventually dissipated. The key to this theory is understanding the idea that water is considered vital to life, and that when water is speculated to have been present on a planet, the planet is believed to have been viable for life. Scientists think that life could have been present on Mars, but that the aforementioned drastic climate change decimated it. NASA’s Viking Mars landers also found that Mars had chemical indicators that radioactive-carbon-nutrients—in other words, this means that somewhere in Mars’ soil microbes are being metabolized and converted to radioactive energy, which means some form of organic life is decaying. Because of all the other evidence that has accumulated regarding life on Mars in conjunction with this information, I would try to figure out whether or not there are microbes on Mars that may point to indicators of life by drilling a deep hole in its crust, then send robots down the cavity to test for life microbes since the microbes are supposedly in Mars’ soil. However, the holes wouldn’t be massive, like the ones drilled to obtain oil, they’d be small so as not to destroy Mars’ appearance. As for Mars’ moon, Europa, scientists believe life is a possibility here as well because Europa’s surface is a layer of ice that definitely contains an ocean below it, and water, again, is an indicator of potential life. Europa has a bunch of saltwater and a rocky seafloor, according to NASA, which can provide for tidal heating that produces energy and chemistry that can provide nutrients vital to life. NASA has also found that Europa receives radioactive blasts from Jupiter that may stimulate microbial growth. If it were up to me, I would check for life on Europa by testing its plumes—Europa has plumes that explode with chemical gases from beneath its ice layer. Like Mars, I would check this chemical gas for possible microbes, chemicals, and bacteria associated with life. Europa is remarkably promising for life, and NASA scientists speculate it could possibly the human race’s next home once Earth can no longer support us.
The second method I’d use to discover whether or not aliens are real is tracing the origins of Fast Radio Bursts, or FRB’s. FRB’s were first detected by scientists in 1967, although they didn’t know they’d caught an FRB at that time. FRB’s are super-quick—literally milliseconds long—radio flashes that are detected by telescopes. The origin’s of FRB’s are still unknown, but space explosions, rotating stars and planets, supernovae, magnetars, and aliens may be the potential causes of FRB’s. Many FRB’s have been detected since the technology to recognize them was created—some have been minute, and others have been rather large. One in particular, however, FRB 121102, repeats on a firm cycle. While some believe FRB’s come from natural occurrences in which supernovae blow up or black holes or rotating stars, there’s a good deal of evidence that qualifies extraterrestrials as candidates. Firstly, an FRB detected in 2004 was pinpointed to a location between the Pisces and Aries constellations where no stars or planets exist, and by default, where no life can exist. To corroborate this, the FRB was discovered at a frequency that would be easy for intelligent life to access and use for communication. Further suggesting that FRB’s come from intelligent foreign life, we have FRB 121102, which repeats on a 16-day cycle. While FRB 121102 is in an unidentified galaxy 3 billion light-years away, some believe the signal may be coming from a power source made by intelligent life meant to propel modes of transport or something massive that generates energy regularly and on a schedule. The same way you may refuel your car every week on Sunday to have a full tank for the week, intelligent life may be using an energy-producing unit to generate energy every 16 days. Interestingly, if this theory is correct, it is estimated that the energy source is about as powerful as a solar energy panel twice Earth’s size. I suppose that to determine the origin of FRB’s, I would build the technology to pinpoint and travel to the coordinates of FRB 121102. While I know I mentioned that numerous FRBs have been caught, I believe that exploring FRB 121102 would be most helpful in discovering intelligent life because it is recurring and will always be there for humans to investigate. If I arrive at the coordinates and see a black hole or a nova set to explode, obviously I’m making a run for it—both for the sake of my life and to report my findings back to Earth—but if I see some extraterrestrials walking around and producing energy from a massive plant, my mystery will be solved, and I’ll be amazed to know other beings exist in this vast universe.
The final method I would use to learn whether or not extraterrestrials live is by exploring more life-bearing exoplanets. Let’s first discuss the Drake equation, made in the 1960s, that estimates how many life-bearing planets could exist. Using the current numbers and data we have, it’s estimated that upwards of 100,000 civilizations can communicate in the Milky Way galaxy. This means that there are upwards of 100,000 exoplanets in our galaxy alone, suspected of containing life out of the billions that exist. Knowing this, I would aim to try to investigate as many of these planets as possible and make sure I increase my chances of finding intelligent life by only examining goldilocks zones or habitable zones that are not too hot for life, not too cold for life, and not violent in terms of its climate—think Neptune is far from the sun, so its too cold for life and Venus is super close to the sun; hence, it’s too hot to have water which is vital to life. However, Earth is a reasonable distance away and has conditions that permit the presence of water, so it’s just right. Overall, I would aim to investigate as many exoplanets as possible, through rovers or rocket ships. I suppose I could mass-produce loads of rovers that could be launched into space to disperse to various areas of the Milky Way Galaxy to detect life signs and send reports back to Earth.
If we were to discover aliens, I think the world’s perspective on life would change entirely. The adage that “anything is possible” would seriously be true. In the science world, it would prove that life can absolutely form anyplace where conditions are proper. And if the beings we discovered that didn’t look anything like us—maybe they have gills and fins because they live under the ice layer of Europa or perhaps they’re cold-blooded and scaly because they live on a hot planet—that would be even more fascinating because it would show us that life doesn’t always have to develop traditionally–at least what we see as traditional. Of course, there are numerous ways to discover life aside from investigating Europa and Mars, FRBs, and exoplanets, but so far, I feel these modes have been proven to be our best bets.
We’re pleased to announce we’ll be continuing the scholarship next year. For more information on the next entry period which will be for Fall 2021, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Samantha! May all your dreams come true.