Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm no scientist

Coming to terms with how big the galaxy is.

I believe in extra-terrestrial life. 

I kind of think that the likelihood of it just makes sense. Evolutionists claim that life came into being as a result of a high-energy reducing atmosphere and evolved from there. The basic building blocks are out these elsewhere. Now, certainly, scientists admit that having the appropriate conditions for life to evolve would not guarantee that it would evolve. Still, the universe is big. As Douglas Adams notes, it "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is." So, it stands to reason that somewhere else, life evolved, if it evolved here.

But I know that many of my readers don't believe that life did evolve here. That's fine. I've read enough creationist writing to be rather unconvinced myself. There are a couple different "intelligent design" theories as to how life came into being. The Abrahamic religions talk about a particular time when, to quote a Hebrew source "God created the Heavens and the Earth." Then God created life on the earth, but not just on the earth. Oh no, he also filled Heaven with all kinds of weird creatures we learn about later. So, God filled earth and heaven with funky animals and then created a whole universe he just left unpopulated? None of the sacred texts of these religions make those claims and it doesn't seem in character for the guy who put life everywhere else. 

Then there's Hindu/Buddhist belief that the universe is really just a dream. For Buddhists its a collective dream. For Hindus it's the dream of a particular god, Brahma. In this case, there would be extraterrestrial life because, well who dreams about nothing going on? Dreams are dreams about life.

Then there's one of my favorite "intelligent design" theories, that we were put here by aliens. I like this one not because I subscribe to it, but because so many people who laugh at the notion of divinity and mock believers in the supernatural are totally on board with this. Anyway, if one subscribes to this belief, there obviously are aliens.

But I don't think we'll ever meet them.

A NASA scientist just proposed a theoretical model for a Star Trek like Warp Drive. Apparently, the thing could allow travel at up to 10 times the speed of light relative to our space-time, without violating the laws of physics. That's a pretty sweet story to geeks like me. That puts space flight to a place like Alpha Centauri only about 6 months from take-off. That's a whole other solar system. Still, it is a star quite different from our Sun and unless life is really pretty ubiquitous, it's doubtful we'd find life there. 

The closest star that is like our sun that scientists have discovered is called 18 Scorpii. It is about 45 light years away. So, if we could get this machine going, it would take us 4 years there and 4 years back to find out that most of the planets there are like most of the planets here: lifeless. And while there are probably billions of potential planets in the universe, the universe is big. Just our galaxy, with all the stars that you see at night, is 100,000 light years across. Moving the decimal one place to the right isn't going to make much of a difference when we're talking about those distances. So the chances of two planets which both have life ever finding each other are pretty slim.

That's just something I thought about today.

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