Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Would we be able to share our universe?

I have been reading the Times again. It is so often the source of my daily post, particularly at present when there is little stirring on our daily walks and the farm is just ticking over waiting for some warmer weather.
I read today that scientists are predicting that the first earth-like planet outside our solar system may well be detected before the end of this year. Conditions have to be just right -
the planet does not have to be too large (they are likely to have too turbulent an environment);
it has to have a star to orbit and it needs to be at an optimum distance from that star - if it is too close it will be very hot and the water on the planet is likely to evaporate; if, however, it is too far away then the water will be ice. This planet will most likely be found by Nasa's Kepler spacecraft. In fact there may very well be more than one planet which is both about the same size as earth and is also in a "habitable zone."
It does rather bring science-fiction to life doesn't it?
I remember the moon landing and how exciting it seemed. On the day it was happening we were visiting my aged parents and we rushed down the path to the door, dashed in expecting to see the television on, only to find that my parents were not at all interested - in fact I don't think they believed it was really happening.
I do find the idea of other habitable planets really very exciting, but I am less than excited about the other thing I read. Professor Peters who is a Lutheran Theologian at a seminary in Berkeley, California, says that if we were to find intelligent life on another planet he is sure that the first question we would ask would be, "How can we exploit them?" This, I assume, is the cumulative "we", in other words our elected leaders rather than we as individuals. I find that rather sad to say the least.
He goes on to say that we would be slow to trust beings from another planet and, as he says, mistrust breeds violence.
And what if that civilisation proved to be further advanced and more intelligent than us - we would probably have to prepare ourselves to be subservient. And again, that collective "we" would not like that as would most likely fight. Revolutionary spirit would grow and spread and then I suppose it really would be "War of the Worlds."
In the light of this I can't help feeling we would be better staying at home, so to speak, rather than looking what is out there. But then on the other hand I suppose like Mallory said when asked why he wanted to climb Everest, we need to explore space "because it is there."
Any views on the subject?


Moonstone Gardens said...

I think we should stay put and teach people to use birth control and sustainable practices so we can take care of the planet we have.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Not sure we can, should or would want to tame curious minds. There is so much to learn - and it is OUR universe. My husband was telling me that he was reading speculation in "Scientific American" about parallel universes with the same planets - and....perhaps....the same individuals - a parallel Pat and Bonnie living out there on a parallel Earth. Does tickle the imagination!!!

Heather said...

I think we should stop wasting money looking for other planets to ruin and take better care of this one. The moon is probably cluttered up with various defunct bits of machinery and Everest is strewn with litter and abandonned equipment from various attempts to reach the summit. I know both the moon landing and conquering Everest are wonderful achievements, but why does 'man' have to leave his rubbish everywhere he goes?

Coastcard said...

I think there is a sense in which we (as individuals - rather than as that collective, rather scary 'WE') would be able to make a choice.

We could either be like Lucy in Narnia, longing to explore the new territory and wanting to learn from and embrace its kind 'people' (or 'beavers' and 'fauns' in Lucy's case) - or we could be like Edmund, with an eye to causing trouble.

I have been a little simplistic in my analogy, I know, but I think you will follow the point I am hoping to make! Speaking of which, I wonder if we would find hoofprints or tracks in the snow...

maggi said...

I think that we have enough problems getting on with each other on this earth. I would be ashamed to let inter-planetary visitors see what is going on here.

Titus said...

I too find it rather exciting, but then I did enjoy Star Trek back in the dim and distant Captain Kirk days.
There is so much to learn about our own earth, as well as the distant stars and galaxies, and enough scientists to do both. Embrace all knowledge, I say, but my caveat is that it unfortunately does not bring wisdom, which is what our species seems to lack, so often.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Maggi... I would be ashamed also, and I truly believe the _powers that be_ on this earth would exploit if given the chance. Sad truth.

willow said...

Lots of fascinating "what ifs"!

Nita said...

Any highly intelligent beings out there would probably be doing thier damndest to avoid contact with us.
Humans are nothing if not maleable. I think we would share.Such a planet wouldnt be a resource to expolit for ages. Its not as if we can skip on over in our lifetime.
Perhaps by the time we could we will figure some things out.

Dominic Rivron said...

I think it is typically anthropocentric of us to think life elsewhere will have any point of contact with ours in the way it looks, sustains itself and thinks. It may not even be possible to talk of it in those three terms.

I always think of this.

Cloudia said...

Exploring is what we do. Perhaps we will find a family and some wisdom beyond the stars. Will they blog, d'ya think?

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

dinesh chandra said...




thousandflower said...

One of the first contact novels I've ever read is Maria Doria Russell's The Sparrow and it's sequel Children of God. It deals with an expedition to a newly discovered planet by a group of Jesuit priests and the subsequent attempt to understand a truly alien culture and species. I've read it several times.

Poet in Residence said...

I strongly suspect (intuitevly without a shred of evidence) that advanced beings are already here.

We may already be in the galactic zoo.

Advanced entities having mastered the art of time&space travel and all that is required to traverse the unimaginable distance between the stars will have in the course of their reseach developed the ability to make themselves and their equipment 'invisible' to us lesser entities. Direct contact with us would pose an unacceptable level of risk to them.
That being so, what would they be doing here? Watching us? Yes. But what for? That is the question.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cindee - i am inclined to agree with you.
Bonnie - I don't think my brain will take in the concept of a parallel universe.
Heather - and now we seem to be going nuclear, where are we going to store the nuclear waste?
Caroline - you make it all sound rather exciting I must say.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Maggi - if the scientist is to be believed that fighting instinct is born in us and always comes to the fore in times of uncertainty.
Titus - that is more or less my philosophy too.
Karen - yes, sad but very true.
Nita - luckily I don't think I shall still be around when all this happens.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Poet and Dominic - between you you have thrown a spanner in the works - now I will never know what is happening.

Margaret - shall put that on my reading list.

BT said...

I think we should draw the curtains, turn off all the lights and keep very very quiet.