In June of 2011, top Russian astronomer Andrei Finkelstein was quoted as saying, "Life exists on other planets and we will find it within 20 years.” Believing that the laws of life – the rules by which organisms arise and reproduce on our planet -- exhibit universal principles that would apply anywhere else in space, Dr. Finkelstein made these remarks at an international symposium called "The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence" in St. Petersburg, sparking a discussion with many passionate believers as well as debunkers.
He is basing his theories on the fact that in the last 20 years, our knowledge about outer space went from being aware of zero exoplanets (any planet orbiting a star other than the sun) to discovering over 500 of them. If there are other planets out there, orbiting their own stars, who’s to say there aren’t other beings roaming around on them? The members of Heaven’s Gate, the UFO religion doomsday cult, would surely agree, but since 39 of their members committed mass suicide in 1997 in order to reach a spaceship, we will just have to pen that down as another of life’s many mysteries.
The idea of human beings coming into contact with extraterrestrials presupposes that we would indeed even recognize another life form of some undetermined design. The international scientific community was rocked to its very core in 2010, when NASA announced the discovery of a “new” form of bacteria, which feeds on arsenic and displays a DNA and structure unlike any other life form on this planet. While Russian astronomer Finkelstein believes that aliens will exhibit bilateral symmetry including 2 eyes, 2 ears, one mouth, 2 arms, 2 legs, etc., who is really to say what life on other planets will look like if and when we come in contact with it for the first time?
In addition to predictions about life on other planets, Russian scientists have had a history of interesting discoveries in the last 50 years. From the physical fitness and gymnastics breakthroughs of the 60s and 70s to the 1984 cult classic book, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, to more recent popular publications focusing on techniques to go beyond the boundaries of normal mental and physical abilities, Russian advances in science have made their way into American popular culture in a very real and enduring way. Why not immerse yourself in a study of the country and learn more about wacky Russians facts – from acting cats to vodka salaries – in our True or False game?