Monday, December 26, 2005

Big things.


Someday in the (hopefully) quite distant future, my dad will die. And it's nights like these that will hook me the hardest; where I've been most bowled over by the sheer vastness of his understanding of the world and his indefatigable interest in it.

I think the conversation started somewhere around the media or the Iraq war, or thereabouts. Something, at least, that I was used to discussing. I think the conversation started four hours ago. My mind's still bubbling over.

There are four inhabitable planets within sixty light years, and they're all as silent as death. My father's extraordinarily well-researched theory is that life had to have once existed there, but that the window between sentience and self-eradication is, cosmically, almost negligible. That any species, sufficiently developed to have reached intelligent sentience, by merit of the fact that it had to have been basally malicious enough to hack its way to the top of the heap would be obliterated by virtue of that very nastiness. That this has been proven and reproven on worlds apart from ours, and that the silence that has found our sweepings is testament to the small relative window we have to discover each other.

Interesting, no?

Also, a bit of information I was not previously privy to: there are four retroviruses that have left mark on the human genome. This means that a scourge much like AIDS has tackled our species (and nearly won) four times previous to this current epidemic. That we may have hope in this, as an attestation to our crabgrassiness as an organism.

That there has been one single instance of a trilaterally symmetric organism. It was found on an Australian dig. It's a single blip on the evolutionary scale that's thought to have been completely knocked out of the running by a freak event, ending the experiment almost before it could begin.

Too bad, really. You have such pretty eyes; too bad we can't have another to gaze into.

1 comment:

toshok said...

there's something romantic about that view of the cosmos. If we can make it out from the shadow ourselves, we'll eventually reach out to other worlds, and I think finding them empty of intelligent life would be far worse than to find them covered in the ruins of ancient civilizations.

But even if the window is negligibly small, the number of possible worlds with life on them is staggeringly large, with new ones being formed constantly. And we only really have to get lucky once.

and I thought you *had* a third eye... :)