The discovery of two Earth-size planets circling a sun-like star (both too hot for life) and a third planet in the “habitable zone,” (but too big for life), have sparked discussion about other life in the universe.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer addressed the topic, saying the news comes at the right time: “As the romance of manned space exploration has waned, the drive today is to find our living, thinking counterparts in the universe. For all the excitement, however, the search betrays a profound melancholy — a lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence.”
Whoa. “A lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence?” Really?
Is that what really causes anxiety among humans?
Krauthammer says it makes no sense that we haven’t heard from our counterparts out there somewhere. “As we inevitably find more and more exo-planets where intelligent life can exist, why have we found no evidence — no signals, no radio waves — that intelligent life does exist?”
Some scientists suggest we haven’t heard anything because “advanced” civilizations have an unfortunate way of destroying themselves. (So much for “intelligent life.”)
Krauthammer lists some ways we could destroy ourselves: bird flu virus used as a weapon; nuclear weapons; biologic agents, etc. (Other human contributions to the destruction of this advanced civilization in addition to the homicidal, genocidal, suicidal: Road rage; the TV show “Toddlers and Tiaras”; and texting under the influence, just to name three.) (Are we really a “lonely species” if we can’t even share a freeway in peace?)
On Sunday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking marked his 70th birthday. He was unable to attend a conference in his honor, but sent a recorded message, in which he repeated his call for humans to colonize other worlds, the Associated Press reported.
Hawking pleaded for interplanetary travel, arguing that humans faced a grim future unless they spread out from their terrestrial home. “I don’t think we will survive another thousand years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” he said.
On Tuesday, scientists set the hands of the infamous “Doomsday Clock” forward one minute from two years ago.
Tick, tock. Time to start … colonizing?
Perhaps it will occur to Krauthammer and Hawking that there is, in fact, intelligent life out there and they have determined the smart thing to do is to stay the heck away from humans and the earth they are apparently destroying, and will one day seek to escape. With eyes on colonizing someone else’s earth-like planet.
Who exactly would want to befriend us?