Here's a question
- Are we alone in the universe?
Currently there is no empirical evidence to support the existence of life on other planets. However, the amount of data we've gathered on the topic is so minimal, it doesn't merit even a scientific inclination for or against the existence of extraterrestrial life. Thus, as far as life's intriguing question go (pun intended), this is surely among the greatest! I've certainly speculated for a-many late hour, in various states of mind. I've even had several overscrupulous conversations on the matter with a variety of academics. From these conversations, I've gleaned there is a general consensus that we are not alone in the universe. However, I tend to think we are alone, here on Earth, and the universe. To clarify: Do I think life exists on other planets? Maybe. Do I think there are creatures with human-like (similar or greater) intelligence? No. I think we are the most intelligent organism in the universe. It's purely speculation...
The age of the universe, aka the length of time elapsed since the Big Bang, is currently estimated to be 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years. That's Billion with a B as in 13,000,000,000 years. Earth is around 4.54 billion years old. Here's the timeline of our 4.54 billion year old Earth:
3.5 billion years of simple cells (prokaryotes),
3 billion years of photosynthesis,
2 billion years of complex cells (eukaryotes),
1 billion years of multicellular life,
600 million years of simple animals,
570 million years of arthropods
550 million years of complex animals,
500 million years of fish and proto-amphibians,
475 million years of land plants,
400 million years of insects and seeds,
360 million years of amphibians,
300 million years of reptiles,
200 million years of mammals,
150 million years of birds,
130 million years of flowers,
65 million years since the non-avian dinosaurs died out,
2.5 million years since the appearance of the genus Homo,
200,000 years of anatomically modern humans
Earth became a stable planet circa 9 billion years after the big bang. Abiogenesis (the generation of biological life from inorganic matter) on Earth is estimated to have occurred 1 billion years after the planet stabelized (4.5 billion years ago). Another 1.5 billion years of evolution resulted in eukaryotes, then another 1 billion years elapsed before the first multicellular organisms arose (1 billion years ago). Over the last billion years, there has been a huge amount of evolutionary diversication on Earth; mammals evolved around 200 million years ago. A most recent addition to Earth's biodiversity is the species Homo Sapien, which has existed for 200,000 years. That's not very long. To put it another way, if the length of time life has existed on Earth was divided into 17,500 equal eras, humans have existed for only the very last of these eras.
Let's talk about space travel and interplanetary communication.
I am, Me
I wake-up every morning, and much to my indifference, I am still me.
At least it seems like I am. What's even more peculiar is that I've been me for as long as I can remember. However, I've been thinking about this for the last few days, and I've come to the realization that this is indeed a phenomenon worth addressing.
You don't agree? Well think about this - We are probably the most intelligent living organism in the universe. Maybe that is a bold statement, but from the info we've gathered about life on other planets, we know that we are the most intelligent in our solar system. Astronomers have reported info on only several planets that might be earth-like; but they are in far away solar systems, such as the one orbiting a star in the constellation Libra. We know that much.
The Earth is 1.00 AU from the Sun (~150 million kilometres). Good for life. Neptune on the other hand, is ~30 AU from the sun and with a mean temperature of 72 degrees above absolute zero, it's a giant ball of ice. Not so good for life, but then again, Neptune is like 5 planets away from us. What about Venus and Mars, the next closest planets to Earth. Venus is 0.7 AU from the sun (not bad), and it is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because they are similar in size, gravity, and bulk composition. Venus is also covered with opaque clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing visible light from reaching the surface. The water has most likely dissociated, and, because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field, the hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by solar wind. Shucks.
At 1.6 AU, Mars is cool. Literally, the hottest Mars gets is -5 C which is probably the result of having almost no atmosphere and 10,000 km wide meteors hitting the surface.
So maybe those Earth-like planets in other solar systems are between 0.9-1.5 AU (we can't tell precisely), which might result in that key temp for liquid water, a vital element for the spontaneous generation of life. This doesn't come close to implying that there are creatures as intelligent as we are. There are still other obstacles; one being - the spontaneous generation of life. It took Earth about 4.53 billion years to produce humans. Also, evolution is not very good at yielding animals with "human-like intelligence." I was reminded a few days ago that bacteria is as evolved as we are. Bacteria has also been able to reproduce and sustain itself longer than humans. The species with the next closest intelligence to humans lives right here on our own planet - Apes. These guys are locked into the alpha-male system of reproduction, meaning the biggest most baddass ape gets to spread the most seeds. Every once in a while there might be two equally baddass ape, and the smarter one may win, but that doesn't happen very often, and it also doesn't necessarily mean it will have ofspring any more intelligent than the other ape. So basically what I'm saying is, a human-level intelligence is an unusually high level under the laws of nature. We're lucky.
That's not all though. If there were creatures out there just a little further along in evolution, they would have contacted us by now. We obviously want to be contacted. We are obviously of no threat to them. Maybe they aren't interested in us, because we're too primitive, but still, we want to be contacted damnit!
But, that's not my main point anyway. My point is, I am me; one of the few humans that have existed in the infinite history of time and space. Somehow a me was woven into my mental capacity, and every day I've woken up since I was a child, this me-ness has been the facilitator of my own actions. I am not a passive observer, and although I know more about the world, I am no different from the person I was a decade ago. Somehow, in all incalculable fate, I exist as a human in this universe, but if only for a fleeting moment.