Can the Universe Provide Us with the Meaning of Life?
Abraham Loeb: I have always been driven by the desire to understand something new about the universe that would change our cosmic perspective and stimulate our aspirations for space. I assign a meaning to my life by using the spectator perspective of an astronomer to motivate new challenges for our civilization on the cosmic stage. Given our many engineering accomplishments on Earth, a broader perspective could lead us to develop new technologies and modify our larger habitat through “space engineering.” Among all astronomical data, the discovery of alien life could have the greatest impact on our broad outlook. The first traces of primitive life might be found as soon as the NASA and ESA rovers excavate the surface of Mars in 2021. In parallel, enigmatic signals or artificial infrastructure produced by technological civilizations might be detected remotely from a much larger search volume through “space archaeology.”