Our first contact with extraterrestrial life might be just around the corner. The stimulating documentary Is Anybody Out There? explores the stepping stones in space exploration that brought us to this point, and the mounting evidence that suggests that life does exist within the far reaches of our solar system.
The film asks the fundamental questions that has transfixed humans for centuries, and enforces these speculations with concrete science devised from the likes of NASA, Carl Sagan and the SETI Institute, an organization whose sole purpose is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe.
"Life beyond this planet is quite plausible," says one SETI representative featured in the film. A rich history of unveiled clues and startling revelations has led the scientific community as a whole to this same consensus.
The filmmakers lay out the evidence supporting this conclusion, which includes the mysterious Wow! Signal received in 1977 which emanated from the distant constellation of Sagittarius, and the Kepler spacecraft's findings in 2009 of thousands of Earth-like planets where the conditions for life was a possibility. Of course, one of the leading is based in common sense and humility: within the vastness of a 14 billion years old universe, how can we assume that the only sentient life forms are inhabiting the Earth?
As demonstrated during the course of the film, today's technology is unprecedented in its detection capability. In recent years, we've gained the ability to explore and interpret findings in the deepest regions of space with greater accuracy than ever before.
When might we encounter extraterrestrial beings, and what form might they take? Will the tools and technologies they employ prove vastly evolved from our own? The SETI scientists outline a myriad of possibilities, including one that casts an alien species in the guise of a super computer.
Is Anybody Out There? is complimented by appealing animations, easily digestible narration, and a panel of expert guests who offer tremendously valuable insights. It's a film that swims in the kind of big ideas that capture the imagination, inspire landmark innovations, and offer hope for a future of unknown potential.
Directed by: Ruth Chao