It begins with last night. He walked up to me while I was watching TV and said, "Please pause the TV. I need to talk to you." I did. I fingered the pause button stopping the lady coroner in Body of Proof in mid-speech and gave him my resigned attention.
Which leads me to thoughts of the cosmos. There may be species out there that we may have to communicate with. I know you have seen those visualizations where you -- well, not you exactly, but a person -- is photographed from on high. Then the camera retreats and we see the block you are standing in, then retreats again to show the city, then the state, then the country, then the earth....and keeps zooming out and you see our solar system and then our galaxy where our sun shrinks to a tiny dot and then it disappears with a view of the cosmos where our sun disappears, then the camera backs up to show a mass of stars... It shows that we are a tiny, tiny part of something huge that we simply can't comprehend.
So many, many suns in the cosmos and a bunch of them have planets, and planets are where there could be species. So with so many invisible planets -- gazillions of them -- logic tells us there must be populations of species out there. Actually, I'm not so sure if it is logic, but more like wishful thinking. Why? Look at the alternative. If there are not, then we would be the only species amongst billions and billions of planets -- and that is almost unacceptable. It is just too lonely a feeling. Deep inside we don't want to be alone.
Of course, there is the fact the we don't know. This gnaws at us. We can't stand not knowing. Even if someone reverently spouts that we can't know the unknowable, inside we find that answer unacceptable. We thirst for information. That is why we gossip, argue and plead, we have to understand what is going on.
|Hubble Image of Stuff Out There|
If I take a picture of you, the image I get is a historical image because I can only photograph an image after it has hit the lens and it took time for the image of you to travel from you to the lens...the speed of light. We don't realize or pay attention to it because it does so in a billionth of a second, 'cause light travels pretty fast. But we notice it when we see Hubble pictures. What we see is an image after light from the image has traveled a long, long way. Since light travels 186,000 miles per second, the distance that light travels in one year is a Light Year. So when they say that something is 214,000 light years away, we are seeing an image 214,000 years old. It may not even exist now. All we can see is history. (If you really are nerdy enough to want to translate a light year into plain old miles you can do some multiplication: 188,000 x Number of Seconds in a Year = the Mileage Equivalent of a Light Year.)
This takes the fun out of it. It makes things strange and confusing. Now they are talking about building a bigger and better telescope than Hubble that will be able to see the Beginning of Time. This is enough to make you want to turn to making stew. Stew -- you can touch and smell and taste it and it is right there. It is just hard to comprehend that a telescope is a time machine. It sees history. A bigger telescope can travel further and further in the past. (They haven't figured out how to make a telescope see into the future, but I'm sure they are working on it.)
In other words, we don't know.
With all that stuff out there, stuff involving zillions of light years and zillions of suns and billions of planets, I'm banking on the fact that we are not alone. There are other species out there.
|Talking with your Dog|