The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Search for Life

I see, while perusing the news Google deems fit to display, that there's some scientist pontificating about the existence of life in the universe beyond our own. Something about it likely being rarer than we think. Quite possibly true. There are billions of stars in our galaxy and billions of galaxies. Not all of these stars have planets (though we seem to be learning that a lot more do than we once thought) and those that do may not have planets in the "Goldilocks zone" which could mean there would be no life on them.

Since I have no credentials beyond a driver's license and a permit to carry, I am not a credible source for theories about life in the universe. Still, that does not mean I cannot form an opinion and that such an opinion could not stand the proverbial snowball's chance of being right. So, you guessed it, I do have an opinion about life, the universe, and everything and it is more complex than "42." But it is also fairly simple.

We make assumptions about life elsewhere in the universe based on what we have learned about life here on Earth. Of course, at one time our learned men believed in spontaneous generation. Fortunately, some others (a minority, to be sure) questioned that theory and eventually exposed the flaws in it. Yet, we persist in applying our own, quite limited, observations about life on this planet to the possibilities of life on other worlds.

We should be careful about what kind of life we imagine exists. We desire, I think, that intelligent life exist elsewhere. Otherwise we are all alone... and we don't like being all alone, do we? By intelligent life, I mean creatures that make tools and build cities. But let's look at a little closer. Is there a lot of intelligent life on Earth? Certainly not on our freeways and other roads. Or on many of the TV channels. Actually, intelligent life is rare on this planet. Some say that we have between 3 and 30 million species on this planet. Of those, how many would we call intelligent? Only one makes tools and builds cities.

Now, let's go back to origins of life on Earth. It took billions of years before the first complex forms of life began to appear on this hunk of space rock. and a couple billion more for these to form creatures we could see without a microscope. And maybe a billion more years to produce us, the creatures we arrogantly call "intelligent." That makes us incredibly rare just on this planet. Relatively speaking, that is. And, so far, we have not found life on other planets in our own solar system. That would be one in eight. Just us. If we are right about the "Goldilocks zone" being the only one conducive to life (and  not meaning that life would form in that zone) then life in any form should be seen as a great rarity.

We think life is abundant here because we keep finding forms of it in places we used to assume completely inhospitable. But we still recognize only one form as "intelligent." Most are deemed "primitive."

Therefore, I think I see that scientist's point. I would add only one thing to support it. For hundreds of millions of years, the dinosaur was the predominent life form on Earth. It was only after a mass extinction of global proportions that life forms that led to our existence began to form and dominate.

That history tells me that so-called intelligent life is as rare as hen's teeth. If it exists at all.

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