Posts tagged life
Ok, this one is kind of fun. Aliens. Where are they? I mean they’re here right? Not so fast. Lets get this science lesson out of the way right here and now.
This is the Milky Way:
So there you have it. That’s us tucked away in a tiny corner of that galaxy. What is a galaxy? Ok, more science so strap in. Here goes…
We live on Earth, which orbits a star we call the Sun. Our entire solar system is a few billion miles across. Pretty damn big but paltry compared to the big stuff. So our solar system is what is orbiting the center of the milky way. Now, Earth goes around the Sun once every 365 days. Our Sun orbits the galactic center once every 250,000,000 years (give or take. I mean really, what’s million years here or there). So in comparison, our solar system is a spec of dust. The galaxy we live in is some 100,000 light years across. That’s the distance light travels in ONE Earth calendar year. It’s around 10,000,000,000,000km. So to get the distance across the galaxy, add six more 0s to that number for a whopping 10,000,000,000,000,000,000km across. Ten quadrillion kilometers (or 6 quadrillion miles). Yes. It’s a very very big place. Even so it’s tiny compared to the Universe. We’re done with that stuff for now. We’ll focus on the local area around Earth.
Tinfoil hats at the ready!
Aliens, right? They’re here, right? Ok, like I said before – hold the phone. Think about this. The nearest star to us is 25 TRILLION miles away. Traversing interstellar space would be a mind boggling feat. We can’t even begin to comprehend the technologies that would have to be employed for such a journey. The space craft would be massive, supporting generations of their species perhaps. It’d also move very fast I imagine. So that’s why the stories of bizarre lights and little zippy dots caught on camera really make me roll my eyes. Think about it.
A vastly superior species shows up and they flit around in the sky at break neck speeds then disappear. Uh, no. Hell no. I’ve traveled trillions of miles at the very least – I’m going to land and get shit done. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Ok, people that are abducted right, that’s a good one. They recollect the entire story and what one thing is missing? The evidence is missing. The actual physical evidence isn’t there. NDT (Neil deGrasse Tyson) said it best “take an ash tray!”. His point was that ANYTHING on a ship capable of interstellar travel would be worth looking at. Where is this stuff? Oh it doesn’t exist. Just like the aliens that took them in the first place. Moving along to my final peeve. Aliens were here long ago and vanished.
We’re awesome, screw this place and screw YOU!
So, yeah, they were here a long time ago and left. In the process of leaving they also took every single bit of their technology with them. Oh but they were nice enough to leave us stone carvings the vaguely depict that technology. Gee, thanks, asses. By the way, thanks for scaring the shit out of everyone with your damned outdated calendar. Looking at you, Mayans.
Get on with it…
So that leaves me with this final note: I believe life exists elsewhere. Mathematically speaking it just has to be true. Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon and Oxygen are extremely abundant in the Universe. We just happen to be made of those elements (minus the helium because that’s just for silly voices, duh).
So in a Universe chock full o’ ingredients with hundreds of billions of stars JUST in our galaxy, we’d be fools to assume we’re special enough to be alone. We are special as I think everything is special in its own way. We’re amazing because we actually CAN understand the Universe if we open our minds to it. That’s the real trick though. Some people refuse to let that knowledge in or deny it.
I’m not saying you can’t have faith and all. Sure, have it and let it better your life and those around you. Just don’t suppress information. Don’t feel you’re better or above someone else because your belief is better. Just be a nice person, ok? Also, don’t deny that the study of the natural world is a good thing. Of course it can be a double edged sword as can anything but most scientists have one common goal: to know.
Aliens might one day show up. I can’t know that and no one can but I have a feeling we’ll HEAR them before we see them. Even then, they won’t be talking to US but to themselves. The profound thing is that if we listen in on a civilization that’s even 100 years more advanced than we are, imagine the implications of that. Us + 100 years of advancement. It’s exciting and a little scary to think about. I’m optimistic that we’ll hear or observe something that indicates life elsewhere in the Universe but I think you can feel safe that the men in black won’t show up to zap your brain and make you forget the whole thing.
What is that word? I made it up. It’s a mix of science + enthusiast. I have to be careful though. I’m NOT a scientist. I’m enthusiastic about science. So it’s what I’m going to start calling myself.
Yes, I’m a scienthusiast.
I guess it could be hyphenated sci-enthusiast? Maybe scien-thusiast? Either way, I looked around Google briefly and it’s possible I thought of this before billions of other people? Maybe it’s some horrible word that I shouldn’t use? Nah, it’s great! It describes me quite fittingly, I think.
So there, it’s my word. It’s OK, you can borrow it. I expect royalties though!
What to do with it? Well, I think the world needs more enthusiasm for science. Not to solve every lurking problem in our lives but to better understand how the world around us works. Some mysteries shall remain so. There are some exceedingly complex things in the Universe that aren’t really practical for everyone to know. Unless it’s your job to know them, that is.
So, perhaps one of my goals in life is to help spread the word of science; Turn people on to how it all works, at a fundamental level. It always goes back to a quote from Carl Sagan. Roughly, we live in a world filled with technology. So few people understand how it all works. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand. You simply have to open your mind to it. When people learn how things actually work, it’s usually one of those “wow…” moments.
In saying that, remember, we can’t let go of reason for madness. There was a time when people who studied the heavens feared retribution. Good people were arrested, exiled or even killed for observing something knowable versus believing in something we couldn’t know. It might seem insane to think that could happen again, but remember as a species, we’re very young. There are a lot of good and honest people out there that speak for science.
Science is interesting because it changes based on observation. In that sense, our view of the world has evolved, as our methods and tools have evolved. The next few decades should prove to be very exciting in the realm of understanding. How the forefathers of great thinkers should like to be alive today to have a glimpse at what we know. How the great thinkers of our future might look back and realize how primitive our thinking was. Each new generation stands on the shoulders of giants from the previous.
Life; space; time; the Cosmos; all encompassing and all waiting to be discovered and understood. We are, in a way, how the Universe understands itself.
We, as the human race, must keep it going. If we’re not to be scientists, we should at least be enthusiastic about science.
Enter: The Scienthusiast.