Lifeless Outer Space
Pessimism or Realism?
Pick up any book on the topic, read fifty pages, and decide for yourselves. Logically, given the astounding number involved when it comes to planets other than earth, there should not only be life but intelligent life interspersed, possibly, throughout the universe. But hopefulness disengaged from "what is" is also an earthly attribute. Things operate independently of wishes and dreams. It takes getting used to. The universe might well be vast, cold, indifferent, and lifeless. If mankind here can actually achieve space travel, there would then be the opportunity (a lá Dr. Strangelove) of ourselves populating habitable planets. Total fantasy. Here on earth the meaning of the entire universe, to the skeptic, is crystal clear: it is a lucrative source of income for moviemakers and astronomers. I am not being facetious. Outer space is captivating. Nevertheless, to date, all that has been accomplished is an International Space Station, the historic Columbia Shuttle, and occasional forays into the further realms of space that do not depend upon human agency other than to launch and record data.
Being stuck on earth is a genuine problem. There is plenty for which to (PTL) praise the Lord. But our liifestyles lead almost everywhere except godliness. The current talk about nuclear weapons is not much consolation. Several nations mean to use them. It is only a matter of time. There are considerations that slow down the process, which, I imagine, was a chief American goal in negotiations with Tehran. Nuclear arms confer prestige on nations, as is the case with North Korea. It is a small country that can make the earth quake with empty threats. Any country that decides to use nukes has to have provisions to protect itself from a like-minded response. That is part of the deterrence factor. However, it seems inevitable that even at the risk of self-annihilation, a nation or confederacy of nations, will in the future risk all. For instance, if Iran is to destroy Israel, how else can it accomplish the task? Think of the aftermath, too, which could, according to various conjectural scenarios, eliminate the earth as a planet that hosts life in abundance. Scientists give a healthier prognosis since the sun has a long ways to go before its existence terminates. Add human nature into the mix and science merges with science fiction. Maybe a thousand years hence, maybe by the end of the month. . . .
Eccentric (though not to themselves) scientists constantly search for signs of either extraterrestrial life or planets that might support life. They look for planets with comparable earth mass and within the same general proximity to a star. They send out radio pulsations, as seen in Contact (1997), and make ample use of spectroscopy, as well as expensive telescopes. How many planets orbit the stars? The number is large because the pattern repeats ad infinitum. It is hard to say if stargazing will ever pay off in terms of finding life. At the same time, the world we live in is in a state of perpetual unrest. Were there a way out by migrating to a distant world, many would give it serious consideration. The USA, for instance, consists of a diverse population, a significant part of which is either in flux or would like to be.
There is to my knowledge no asteroids in transit that will collide with the earth. Yet, there are places here and there throughout the globe where, it seems, to those who enjoy a degree of comfort and affluence, life must be unbearable. What if there is life on distant planets? Would the knowledge alone overnight change hell into heaven? The earth is already burning; its combustion is wholly man-made, not a result of climate change. How much does Iran hate Israel, or other pairs of nations locked in a murderous embrace? Enough to not just develop nuclear weapons, stockpile, intimidate, but use them, too? Thus far, the only deployment of atomic weapons was to stop a war, not start one. With nuclear weapons, a country does not want to start a war either; it aims to utterly destroy. No half measures.
A Penny for their Thoughts?
The Conquest of Inner Space
What is the solution? Admitting that the discovery of life in outer space would trump every and any other story throughout the globe, what is to be done to preserve the single habitable planet we know with acute certainty? There are things that can be done. In fact, the same man, President Harry S. Truman, who ended Imperial Japan once and for all, also helped create the State of Israel. UN proposition 181, the partitioning of Palestine, in 1947, however, led to initial hostilities in 1948. It has been that way ever since. If there are telescopes out there examining our planet, aware that we are on the lookout, intelligent life forms might want to maintain a low profile. The Middle East is a powder keg -- not good for space-travel-tourism. Play it safe: visit Roswell. Once again, of very recent vintage, the USA has tried hard to lessen tensions. This is only the latest chapter in a series of well-meaning efforts by almost every president after a point in time to act as intercessor. There was a time when American diplomats spoke to warring parties in the Middle East in all sincerity asking nothing in return but a reduction to heated conflict. The countries that now threaten, one, a nuclear strike, and two, a non-nuclear pre-emptive strike, are both autonomous and beholden to no one so much as themselves. They will have the final word.
How to make our fellow residents in the universe acknowledge their cosmic brothers and sisters is a different matter. It is not dull work, though the search for extraterrestrials has failed to yield a single verifiable, incontroversial shred of evidence. The speculation is endless. It has spawned great literature from excellent, imaginative writers. But ours remains a planet that does not always recommend life. In fact, at least one scientist calls attention to the fact that science is not being summoned forth to help solve global problems so much as provide "baubles". Can it be true that humans just want to have fun?
The Old Hometown
Kingdom of Heaven & the Mushroom Cloud
The religious believe and so do scientists. But not in the same outcome. I can picture a voice-over in a movie: "There is thy reward. I Am, greatly displeased, hath decreed it." Dust all around. Nothing moves, neither on land, in the sea, or in the air. Gone in sixty seconds. So much for the gilded reward we patiently waited upon. True enough, there are parts of the world, the Middle East being the primary offender, where the rest of us, as far as it is concerned, could just up and perish, to employ euphemistic language. Personally, I would like to believe in both of the two aforementioned Pollyanna eventualities: (1) a kingdom of heaven, and (2) finding extraterrestrial life. It would make greater sense if this earth, no more than a minuscule particle against a background of galaxies and galaxies, were not the only repository of biological life. It would also be a plus to find confirmation to the notion that life is meaningful.
NASA and a Life-Filled Universe
Promises of Eternal Life are rampant in the bible. If so, we shall live to see the question of extraterrestrial life resolve itself one way or another. Also, if Eternal Life is achieved, a major sea change will have taken place, shifting the globe away from war toward peace. Funny, but Hubpages asks for concrete facts. There are none. Not when it comes to life on other planets. None that cannot be contested, that is. But the real matter I wanted to address is the tenuous connection between the Middle East and Extraterrestrial Life. One can speak about exoplanets and the like to the heart's content. At the end of the day, the only life (unless someone is keeping it to himself or herself) we know of is right here on earth. At present, hatred for certain targeted people in the Middle East and elsewhere has reached critical mass. Either something is going to happen that might end in the annihilation of all life, or the various warring parties will "see the light," and back off. As of this moment in time, the future is anybody's guess.
What can be done about it? Well, the current administration has tried talks, admirable in and of themselves, though already regarded as doubtful the day after an agreement was reached -- if that is the case. Scientists like to point out how recent, in terms of the actual age of this planet, in addition to the establishment of life on it -- from the primordial soup to now -- the arrival of human beings has been. The Middle East is now nearing a nuclear stage of development that needs to be turned around or else. Better writers could phrase it more elegantly. If any country, for whatever reason, dips into its nuclear arsenal, it will find itself immediately on the receiving end of a reprisal that might erase it from the map. But then, any premeditated contemplation of a nuclear attack has already been taken under wraps. If, on the other hand, the world does not respond in kind, why look for life in outer space when it is not respected here on earth?
Anybody Out There?
Is There Life on Other Planets?
Do you think we are not alone in the universe?
Check out Five Billion Years of Solitude by Lee Billings, subtitled "The Search for Life among the Stars."