reply to post by ManInAsia
I had to respond to 'ManInAsia' to commend this person for a very well-said post.
Not sure if I jumped on the 'band-wagon' too soon....haven't reviewed my earlier posts on this topic....so forgive me if I've ranted about this
I took the time to re-read the title. The title "Why I Believe We Are Not Alone In The Universe"....rings true, to my mind.
However, we should all take a deep breath and realize exactly what we are referring to, when we say 'The Universe'.
I'll draw us down, just to our planet, the one we know and love.
How to define 'sentience'?? Look around at Nature, on Earth. Yes, you have the benefit of looking around, and contemplating, and planning, and
deciding what to wear to work tomorrow, what you might buy at the grocery store for the next week, whether the kids have enough milk for their cereal
in the morning.....
OK! See, that was an 'example' of Human 'sentience'. Or, was it?????
Who is to say that our petty, daily thoughts are sentience? Any better than, say, whatever petty thoughts a Chimpanzee might contrive, if he or she
is capable of thinking ahead, in order to survive?
Who is to say which is better? "Survival of the fittest"? Well, then the Tiger beats the Gazelle....(or, choose your anology).
OK, I set this up to make a point....to my mind, 'sentience' implies an understanding of one's limited lifespan. I know, that sounds harsh, but
it's really that simple, in its basics. 'Sentience' also implies a sense of compassion....beyond pure 'survival'. I guess I have to pull out
the "E" card....emotions. Because, an emotion is quite possibly a requirement for sentience. And, compassion is a form of emotion.
An increased leisure to contemplate....with a full belly, and fully socially satisfying surroundings, might allow an organism to develop these
thoughts, given enough time and comfortable circumstances.
But, I have only given a few contemplative scenarios on our familiar Earth....
I will now address the original topic....about being 'alone' in the Universe.
Hard enough for me to wrap my head around the speed of light, when I first learned of it....42 years ago. I began to study more....and learned that
our planet Earth exists in the 'suburbs' of one of the Spiral Arms of a 'Spiral Galaxy'....of a Galaxy esitimated to be about 100,000 Light Years
in diameter, and maybe about 30,000 Light Years Thick.
(Of coursem it's a bit like standing on the beach and guessing you can see Russia....sorry, couldn't resist....poor analogy.....)
Point is....the the term 'Universe' tends to be bandied around, in my opinion, a little to loosely.
See, we currently reside in a Galaxy...a VERY LARGE structure, which is composed of hundreds of billions of Stars.
Our 'Universe' consists of Hundreds of Billions of other Galaxies...each of THOSE galaxies likely consist of several hundred billiion stars, as
well. BUT, they are a very, very, very long way away....even in our own Galaxy, the nearest Star System is over Four Years away....and that's
assuming we could travel at the speed of light, a technology currently unattainable, as far as we know.
Now, here is a concept critical to our understanding: Stars are giant nuclear furnaces. Really big ones, explode!!!! This happened a lot, many
billions of 'years' ago....long time before the earth was ever formed. These big 'explosions' of those early Stars helped to produce what we now
call 'elements'....because it was the intense heat and pressures that formed those new elements....so we owe our current existence to these early
'Stars'....that exploded, and melded atoms into the current elemtents that we know....and this all happened for Billions of years, by how we measure
things, before we ever existed.
I will, now again, just focus on our OWN Galaxy, what we call the Milky Way (hint: Gets its name just because we sit out in the 'suburbs'....and we
dimly view the main 'body' of our Galaxy, from our vantag point).
It would be like living in the suburbs of LA, and seeing the lights of the city revealed....on a clear night.
My rant was simply to hopefully provide a perspective....as to why the term 'Universe' might have not been appropriate.....'Galaxy' is far more
accurate. Unless someone wishes to imply that InterGalactic travel is possible....
(Nearest Galaxy to ours is Andromeda....approximately 2 million Light Years.....((fun fact....we might collide with Andromeda, but not for about 6
million years, or more....))