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, November 9, 2011

You want to probe me where?

The Byrds - Mr. Spaceman

I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to blog for the next few days but this was written on Monday so it doesn't count. Last night (Sunday) I watched a couple of shows on the Science channel called "Into the Universe with Stephan Hawking". Now, we know that Hawking is a certifiable genius and so we listen to his artificial voice with awe and respect.

The first show (at 7 PM EST) was about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. It's an old show, I think, but I am an old guy and reruns no longer bother me. Especially ones like this. The second one was about time travel. But I don't want to talk about that one. At least, not right now. Besides, I have already mentioned it many times (search the blog... over there... on the right...).

I have watched and read of the possibility of visits to our ancestors by extraterrestrials. Fascinating arguments but, in my opinion, quite silly. I have read several stories of alien abductions. I dismiss those through logic... Why would aliens travel at least hundreds of light years to abduct people with prior histories of mental illness? According to my mother, my father witnessed what he thought was a UFO. That was hearsay since Dad never mentioned it to any of the rest of us. He could have been mistaken; it could have been a helicopter, small plane, or who knows what.

I do, however, believe there is life on other planets. Especially on those that orbit in that "Goldilocks" range. You know what the "Goldilocks" range is? An orbit radius that is within a certain distance from the host star where water can remain in a liquid state. Like Earth. Like Mars... yeah, Mars. However, Mars super thin atmosphere evaporates any standing water on the surface and allows the temperatures to drop so low that any water just below the surface freezes. So we shouldn't expect any Martians or Martian civilizations.

I got to thinking about how tenacious life is. We are always finding life in places here on Earth we once thought to be barren. At great depths of the oceans, in the highest reaches of the Himalayas, inside the cones of volcanoes. Sure, these life forms are mostly lichens, bacteria, and not deemed "intelligent." But they exist. It seems that life adapts to its environment given the slimmest of chances. If it can start and last long enough to find a mate (assuming it needs one), it is likely to reproduce and evolve... at least a little.

We want to know, though, that intelligent life exists on some other planet or planets. I think the possibility is very slim but not impossible. Considering the number of possible planets the right distance from their stars (a number in the range of billions to trillions), I would lean toward "probable." Then I consider how many species of life on Earth qualify as "intelligent" and I wonder. We are it. Because when we say "intelligence", we mean "capable of building civilizations", not merely sentient. How many species are there on Earth? Something around 1.7 million as of 2010. That's just what we knew of then. That we had catalogued. Out of those 1.7 million, just one qualifies. That argues against "intelligent life" on other planets. We human beings are an anomaly.

Let's suppose that there is intelligent (as we define it) on other planets. It is quite possible that we might not recognize it as "life" at all. It could be so different from anything with which we are familiar that we could walk right past it without realizing it.

So I would say life probably exists all over the universe but it is highly unlikely that intelligent life exists that we could recognize.

What do you think?


Thechubbychatterbox said...

I like Carl 's line in "Contact": if there isn't any other life out there , it's a great waste of space.

Sightings said...

Seems as soon as November arrived, everybody hit the road (or the airport). Mexico, Biloxi, Houston. I myself just got back from a few days in Myrtle Beach.  So if we're all running around like crazy, don't you think life in the universe would be doing the same? Come to think of it, I think I saw a couple of strange characters at the Kangaroo Express on Route 17!

But seriously, I'm betting along your lines. I don't buy the UFO sightings of little green men in flying saucers, but don't ya think, with all the suns and all the planets in the Goldilocks range, there's gotta at least be some low-lifes out there, either bacteria or viruses or perhaps something more sophisticated. In fact, I'm intrigued by the notion that life here came from outer space, via an asteroid or comet, many millions of years ago. Haven't they found some (admittedly scant) evidence of that in some rocks they found in Antarctica?

Anyway, enjoy your vacation!