Tuesday, April 23, 2013
From a communicator's perspective, the pell mell rush to find habitable planets in the universe is an odd effort. The Kepler space observatory has identified two new exo-planets in a Goldilocks zone just far enough away from their stars to have water but not too far to be in a deep freeze. The complication? They are thousands of light years from earth. If we assume there is life on the planets.... if we assume this life can receive radio waves... if we assume this life can translate the signals received...if we assume this life can then transmit a signal in return, we are still looking at thousands of years before we can substantiate the existence of intelligence there. What astronomy is telling us is that for all practical purposes, we are alone in the universe unless or until we can travel faster than the speed of light. Star Trek is fantasy and always will be. In other words, we need to treat the earth well because there is no place to go if we wreck it. That was almost the message of Wall-e, the wonderful Pixar animation, except the film posited an artificial space station in a distant galaxy. We've just celebrated Earth Day, but it is well to remind ourselves how alone we are in the universe and how incommunicado with any other intelligent beings that might be out there.