You and I are both big fans of Neil DeGrasse Tyson (and incidentally, I can’t wait for his narration in the remake of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series) so I was wondering what your thoughts were on this video. As you know, I believe that the evidence we currently have available to us shows that unlike what religious doctrine asserts, us humans are not special or unique in any real way. Instead, we are simply just an animal that’s slightly smarter than some of our closest relatives on the evolutionary tree.
And if Mr. DeGrasse Tyson’s “fascinatingly disturbing thought” turns out to be accurate, we’re likely as intellectually infantile when compared to other species in the universe as chimps are when compared to us.
Would love to get your thoughts on this.
Hey Hugo, I definitely love Niel Degrasse Tyson, and recently got a copy of Sagan’s Cosmos to read. I plan on reading it after I finish Hawkins’ Universe in a Nutshell, which I’m reading now. Anyway, I was just watching something today on exactly this topic. According to the Drake Equation, top scientists/physicist/cosmologist believe that at any given time, there are 900 intelligent races of beings at any one time in just the Milky Way. Interestingly enough, I think if we ever did encounter one of those other intelligent races of beings, we would find that they aren’t that different from us. And what do I mean by that? Well, mostly all Evolutionary Biologists believe that those other life forms would be made of Carbon, just like us, because it tends to “stick together” unlike any other element when it comes to biology and life.
Consider that along with what Niel Degrasse Tyson was talking about here (Us/Life having hitched a ride on a space rock from another planet to arrive on Earth), and the fact that we have actually found meteorites that landed on Earth with traces of the four bases found in DNA (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine), and It would be naive to think that intelligent life is limited to Earth in a Universe as vast as ours. That being said, I think we may never directly make contact with other intelligent races exactly because of the wonder of just how big our Universe is. Even if we had the technology of Anti-gravity, solar sails, and could travel at even 1/2 the speed of light (which would be 93,141 miles per second), it would still take us entire life times just to reach our closest neighbors. And so, we are left with our closest ally in the search = our Imagination…
I like that last line! The imagination is an amazing thing, as long as it’s tempered by a bit of skeptical, critical thinking. I personally believe that biological consciousness will meld with technology (e.g. computers) sooner than later. And when that happens, the average life span will skyrocket, allowing for intergalactic exploration. When you can just shut down and power up consciousness at will and live for almost as long as you’d like, the universe opens up considerably.
Of course, this is all just a flight of imagination at this point, but who knows…