Topic Tuesday #20 2012/12/04 - "Are we alone?"One of the pages I follow posted a graphic of the radio signal bubble from Earth. This struck me as a moment of possible revelation. "The first AM broadcast was on Christmas Eve, 1906, and Hitler’s broadcasting of the 1936 Olympics is regarded as the first signal powerful enough to be carried into space - which is a rather disturbing thought." Since 1936, Hitler's voice has been traversing space. At the speed of light, the 1936 Olympic introduction speech has only traveled, 76 light years. Proxima Centauri, our closest celestial neighbor star, is located only 4.243 light-years from the Sun. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Therefore 60x60x24x365=seconds in a year 31,536,000 x 186,000 =
5,865,696,000,000 miles in a lightyear. x4.243 = 24,888,148,128,000 miles to the Alpha Centauri Cluster. We have not detected life there. So the old axiom, 'If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?" comes to mind, though more importantly, does it matter if it did?
The trouble with the cosmos is that it is so very large and we... are not. Everything is scaled up. The most precious of these scalings, is that of time. We have discovered EXO-Planets, worlds of other stars. We detect them crossing in front of their stars. But I digress which is easy to do with this topic. To think that no other life has formed in a universe large enough to have more stars (with planets) than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of our pale blue dot, is either terribly egotistical or simply short sighted. I know nothing for sure, but I have plenty of reasons to believe we are not alone. So what's the real question? The question is does it matter. Then the complex answer, yes and no. It matters because we don't like to be alone. It matters because so much of our own sensibilities are shrouded in the arrogance that it was all made for us. Statistics lean towards there being other life in the galaxy, and in the universe at large. Why it doesn't matter: because that alien species might not be there anymore. Consider our own infancy as a species. We are a very young species; when we talk of geological ages, humanities recorded history is less than a 1,000th of a percent of the age of just the Earth. In less time than Hitlers voice has been traveling outward, we have been on the verge of destruction of our entire species and most of the other inhabitants of this world, countless times. It's easy to look at the Cuban Missile Crisis and see that we were close to annihilation This distinction is important. We look to the heavens and ask if we are alone. A young boy sits and reads of Superman coming from Krypton, while global super powers glower over a table perched on mutually assured destruction. If there is other life out there, would it survive long enough to ask the same questions as the boy? Will be have a planet to visit when the Grexian's that live 300 light years away start listening to Elvis Presley decide we are worth a closer investigation? At the speed of light, it will take them 300 years to come pay us a visit. The question is, will we humanity exist long enough to not walk alone in the universe? Or will we become nothing more than a disembodied voice traveling out forever?
At any rate, the answer is not as important as the question: "Are we alone?".
What do you think?
Thanks to https://www.facebook.com/IFeakingLoveScience & http://zidbits.com/2011/07/how-far-have-radio-signals-traveled-from-earth/