Sunday, April 29, 2007

Go boldly...

Last night, I read a few articles about the new planet that has been discovered. The scientists say it may be inhabitable.

That leads me in two directions:

The conspiracy theory part of me immediately believes those wealthy enough could simply blow this pop stand and go to the new planet, unfettered by the riff-raff that will be left here.

But the more hopeful, less cynical part believes the new planet, if in fact it could support our particular lifeform, would be already inhabited by a society of beings who have no interest in inviting us there on a full-time basis.

It's an interesting thought and I've been intrigued for many years by the idea of other forms of life in the universe, how they live, their values, their way of life. There's no doubt that there are other lifeforms, other civilizations elsewhere. The universe is far too vast to have only one planet with sentient life.

They probably look very different than we do. I wonder if they have language or use other symbols to communicate. It would be interesting to know how they live with each other, whether they have divided themselves into separate communities or live as one community. While I'm sure the size of the planet would have a major impact on those choices, it may not have any at all. It would be fascinating to discover the similarities and the differences. Maybe we could learn from them. I'll bet they live very differently, at any rate.

Have you ever imagined?




ellie bee said...

I was a Star Trek Next Generation fan about 16 years ago. The Old Star Trek never did anything for me. The thing I liked about the Next Generation was the discovery of new life forms and the ultimate respect that was given to them--rather than the earlier "seek and conquer" theme. It was a thoughtful show, to me, and while I have never wanted to go "space exploring" it did give me some hope for the future. I always think I will buy the old episodes for my kids to watch--they would provide some interesting topics of conversation.

Interestingly, I am off to SPACE CAMP on a field trip tomorrow with my 5th grader--3 days of space exploration (and bus rides, and bunk beds, and community baths). Its official. I have lost my mind.

seventh sister said...

I think it is very egotistical of earthlings to think that we could ever be the only "life forms" in the wide, wide universe. Creation could never be that small.

slouching mom said...

I'm with seventh sister.

Julie Pippert said...

I heard this story when it broke and have been wondering how to broach/approach it.

First, I often wonder. But I am a big sci-fi geek who lives in Space City. So I don't just wonder, I am surrounded by people who not only wonder, but are paid money to Go Out There and Find Out. It's a career and a hobby to speculate.

Second, it seems more likely that in the infinity of space, there must be other life. I'd be more surprised to find out that we here on earth are it. I don't know what I'd think then.

Third, as for those who would boldly go forth to find the possibilities on the new planet?

I leave you with the strong, strong suggestion that you read Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow, and its sequel, Children of God, if you haven't already.

That summarizes what I think pretty well.

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. Patience will be attending Space Camp this summer. She's so excited. She wants to be an astronaut so she can explore space and see what's out there. That's her second career after life doctor (she doesn't want to be limited to humans or animals---wants to do both). The little one still wants to be a ninja warrior. Trying to find Ninja Warrior Camp locally...not much call for it, which is surprising. ;)

meno said...

Isn't this a cool bit of news?

Yes, i have imagined. I sometimes think about the universe to help me realize how little my problems matter.

If we find one other habitable planet, in the vastness that is everything, then there must be inumerable of them.

Anvilcloud said...

Hah! At 20.5 light years distance, nobody, rich or poor, is going there any time soon. I wonder how long it would take to get there given our present technology. Does anybody know?

MsLittlePea said...

I like to wonder about that too. It makes me feel small- in a good way.

Gobody said...

Chani, with this distance between us and the new planet I can assure you no one is leaving for it any time soon :).

I believe that if we encounter life anywhere else in the universe it will be so unrelated to us, that we might not even perceive what life means to them. I would not expect just different shapes and different life style, but something totally incomprehensible.

I hope that your eye operation went fine!

jen said...

Soylent green are people....

yes, i've imagined. and your other scenario, a new home for the rich, scares the heck out of me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I was delighted with the news as I have always believed that there must be other habitable planets and lifeforms, other solar systems, out therre. The law of averages is totally against our being the only one out of the vastness of the universe.

Maybe earthlings will try to turn it into a penal colony as England did with Australia. (Of course, the joke was on them as Australia turned out to be a very beautiful place with fascinating lifeforms.)

I will definitely stay tuned on this one.

Hel said...

As a child I always begged my mother to tell me the story of how as a baby she discovered me in the back yard in a ring of fire, left behind by an alien craft.

I needed to belief that one day my true parents would come and take me away from earth and all its troubles.

But now I question whether I would want to leave this planet for another. There too many things on it that I love.

Pam said...

I have imagined myself right into a headache. You know, like trying to comprehend the vastness of our universe and what's beyond our present knowledge.

As for moving there, if we could, if they are watching what we're doing to the one we've got, we'd be black balled. I'm glad it's so far away.

And of course I believe that there is life out there, diverse and facinating. In a cosmos so huge, there has to be.

Bob said...

I've been reading science fiction since I was a teenager. I've read the gamut - from humankind taking the worst of themselves to the planets to humankind only sending it's best. I expect that by the time we will be able to reach the stars we will have had time to evolve into a people better than we are now. At least, I choose to believe this.

QT said...

I am not a sci-fi fan, but I do spend many, many nights looking at the skies and wondering about this very thing. While I think our planet is incredibly beautiful, I do find it hard to believe that we are "IT".

My hope would always be that they would share some technology with us that could restore all the broken pieces of our world.

Suzy said...

I knew it was there all along. How? From many readings of a wonderful set of children's books: Voyages To The Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells.

"Far beyond the moon and stars,
Twenty light years south of Mars,
Spins the gentle Bunny Planet
And the Bunny Queen is Janet."

See? It's clear. Scientists have discovered what we parents knew was there all along: The Bunny Planet. Hooray! That news made my day.

The Atavist said...

"those wealthy enough could simply blow this pop stand and go to the new planet, unfettered by the riff-raff that will be left here."

Interesting. Problem is, in a very short time, assuming that all of the people who arrived there had the highest ethical standards, things would degenerate. In smallish communities, the politics of envy is even more pronounced than in larger populations and jealousies of many sorts would arise and before long half the population will be looking for another planet to escape to.

I used to dream about this sort of thing (not that I could ever afford it) but now realize that it is the human race that is flawed, not our environment. We would (and will) screw things up no matter where we go.

Laurie said...

I have imagined, Chani. I've thought about and dreamed about space travel all my life. It started in early childhood. My cousins and I talked about it all the time and it carried over into my dreams.

I have always known there were habitable planets and other beings out there.

To quote Jodi Foster in "Contact", "The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space. Right?"

lu said...

Remember the first time you read "Horton Hears a Who?"

Since then I've always felt that the world is full of unknowns and we better check our arrogance, before we "boil that dust speck."

Cecilieaux said...

Read Mary Doria Russell's novel "The Sparrow."

Mary said...

I've always wondered about it, Chani. Since childhood. The universe that has no end and beginning is mind-blowing and hard to grasp.

There must be life on other planets. I have been taught that humans can only live this distance from the sun, otherwise we'd bake or freeze to death. We should all have a big party on earth and invite them for a while. Spooky...

Thanks for the intrigue of the day!

Penny. said...

I was taught to believe God created the Universe and so I believe that we are entitled to visit his creations. HOWEVER. A small part of me wonders if we venture outside of where He put us, if He will be there, once we get there, or if there will be something lurking waiting for us.

I don't know why. But, THAT is what scares me about possibly inhabiting another planet.

Leaving home and wondering if there's a phone.