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There's a lot of stuff in here
Let me explain myself a little here. I’ve just watched a video by It’s Okay To Be Smart about visitors coming to Earth in 100,000,000 years and finding evidence of us and the Anthropocene. It is a very cool video to watch actually. If you’ve not already seen it you can see it here:
It is an awesome video. I am absolutely in love with the idea of another space faring species one day in the distant future stumbling across this strange planet, after we’re long gone. Whether we’ve died out or moved onto a new home planet.
Now, the reason for the title is because the video got me thinking… What if we’re never found? Say we do die out before being able to make an impact on our Solar System off of Planet Earth, and before we can make any kind of impact on any other star systems. That just leaves this planet, the tomb of the human race. Think about it, this small rocky planet in a small part of the Orion Arm in the Milky Way galaxy could easily go undetected until the Sun enter its red giant phase and either melts the earth surface and therefore everything on it/in it, or swallows up the Earth entirely. That would leave just our space probes in the Universe for other space faring species to find. Those probes have such a slim chance of being discovered, an entire planet was not discovered, so how could we expect these other species to find such a small object in the vast expanse of space? Sure they may be discovered, but they may also have fallen victim to a star it’ll eventually comes across, or a black hole. Those are just as a for instance. The Universe could destroy all evidence of our existence before it’s ever found!
Never being found is a horrifying thought for me. The human race is by no means perfect, but we are here. And we’ve been here for a while (Okay, a relatively short amount of time in the great scheme of things), whilst we’ve been here we’ve been doing really well. As Joe Hanson said in the video our population reached 1 billion with the Industrial Revolution and by the 1950s our population just… People were popping out children like that was the new hip thing. And now in 2016 our population is something crazy like 7.4 billion people. 7.4 billion people are now living on this Earth, and it’s a very real possibility that they’ll never be known. Never.
I don’t know why this bothers me. I think maybe it’s because the human race tries so hard to learn of its place in the Universe. To understand the Universe around us. We’ve done pretty good on that front too, I don’t see many people throwing themselves off of buildings in the hopes they’ll float, as like ‘Two fingers to you, Sir Isaac Newton’. You know, we’ve got this understanding of how gravity works down remarkably well. I’m not saying we’re experts in any study of gravity, not at all, but we understand it well enough to use planets as slingshots. Based on that, and my studies at Uni that we’ve got a reasonably good understanding of gravity. Gravity is a fundamental force that surrounds us all the time (Which I’m rather thankful for, I must say) and we’ve learnt about it. Earth is planet sized lab diary, in my view. We have learned so much, and continue to do so. We write it down, test it, and test it again. I think it would be so incredibly sad if that becomes lost to the Universe forever.
I just… I hate this idea. I watched another video recently, done by Test Tube Plus or DNews, I forget which, but I believe it was one of those. Anyway, they were discussing where ‘everyone else’ was. They mentioned Fermi’s paradox. For those that don’t know Fermi’s paradox is essentially the lack of evidence of alien civilisations despite the high probability of their existence, and why this is. As it stands with current technology the human race could potentially colonise a portion of the galaxy in a few tens of millions of years (Which on an astronomical time scale is the blink of an eye). As a potential solution to this paradox they suggested that the human race is simply one of the very first civilisations with space capabilities, and for that matter radio communications abilities too. So we could be the Universe’s trial run of life, kind of like “Let’s see how this turns out…”. Which I guess is cool, we’re like the oldest child in that respect, however my issue is that the younger siblings know of the elders ones. Even if they are not around any more and they learn from the things that the elder siblings did. Now newer civilisations cannot do that if we disappear without trace (or very little trace). All the acquired knowledge, all the experiences, all the trial and error, all the bad, all the good, just gone, and nobody ever even knew it was there.
Once I’ve finished getting my necessary degrees to go into research, I’d like to go into research and learn so much more about the universe I, we, live in. You know, have findings published, have them read by others, sharing the knowledge. I think I’m not liking as well that all that could be for nothing, that someday all the sharing of knowledge will just stop. And stop for good with the dying breath of the last human. I’ve said it before, I’m not humanity’s biggest fan at all, and the loss of the human civilisation, doesn’t phase me. It’s the loss of all that we’ve learned that bothers me I think the most. I believe it was Nelson Mandela that said this:
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
I think that can be extended to the life in the Universe as a whole. Education is a powerful thing and I think everyone can benefit from it. Human or otherwise. Knowledge and understanding is so precious, and all efforts should be made to preserve it.
Some people might argue that we can preserve all that the human race has learned as much as we want but it’s useless to other species as they may not communicate the same way we do, or they won’t understand our language. Well we didn’t understand the language of many ancient human civilisations, we still learnt a thing or two from them when we finally worked up what they were saying. Not only that, we don’t just have to write down what we find out. We can create diagrams, audio files. Anyone to find it might not be able to decipher what they’re looking at, at first. Or maybe never, but maybe another species might be able too, and we might teach them something that’ll help them advance as a civilisation.
The above is obviously a bit of wishful thinking, but it’s not totally out of the realms of possibility.
I say preserve the knowledge we acquire. Protect it. Treasure it. We’ve worked hard for it, and education is important. Regardless of who or what the student is that is learning.
You can find Joe Hanson (Writer and host of “It’s Okay To Be Smart”) here:
I seriously recommend his youtube channel, it’s brilliant.
I found the featured image here: http://www.moddb.com/members/eorl-256/images/lost-in-the-universe
I’m going to continue to ponder the fact that we may disappear into the history of the Universe without ever having been known of. It’s a sad thought, and I genuinely hope that, that never happens.
I hope we’re found. We’ve got much to learn and I think we’ve got a lot to teach as well.