: what are the odds? :

You know that skin-prickling sensation you get sometimes? The one that feels like you’re being watched? Well, maybe we are. Maybe we’re being watched right this very second by an entire populace of little green men and, yes, little green women.

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I mean, think about it. How certain are you Earth is the only planet capable of supporting life? Are you:
a.) Absolutely certain?
b.) Somewhat certain?
c.) Not at all certain?
d.) Don’t know

Personally, I wouldn’t bet the rent.

The visible universe, our universe, is vast. Boundless. Some would say infinite. And it’s still expanding — as we speak, the galaxies continue their retreat from each other all these years after the Big Bang. In fact, what we call outer space is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 billion light-years across. (One light-year, by comparison, is 6 trillion miles, plus or minus. You do the math.)

In addition to being b-i-g, big, the universe is also crowded. It’s packed with:
> 500 million galaxy groups
> 100 billion dwarf galaxies
> 10 billion large galaxies
> 2,000 billion, billion* suns

And then there’s the whole multiverse theory. Ai-yi-yi.

With so many distant planets and mysterious stars and other assorted floating matter, don’t you think there’s a pretty good chance life goes on somewhere out there? That a smarter, more sophisticated, more advanced civilization than ours exists?

Heck, Earth could be some übernerd Martian’s version of an ant farm for all we know. Or a superior society’s snow globe. Wait, maybe Earth is the storehouse for another planet’s oddballs and misfits and weirdos? You have to admit, these are all well within the realm of possibility.

Of course, it’s just as likely I’ll win the $600 million Powerball drawing and lead a life of idle, decadent luxury. Here’s hoping.

*billion, billion is not a typo.

Copyright © publikworks 2013

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11 Responses to “: what are the odds? :”

  1. 1pointperspective

    It’s also possible that this is it. That we’re the only ones, and we’re screwing it up, big time. No wonder we often assign superior intelligence to life on other planets – it’s the only optimisitic thing to do.

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    • publikworks

      Once in a while I try to picture an alien on a lush, tropical planet looking at us through a telescope and scratching his head over what he sees. We’ve got to be just as mysterious and absurb to them as they would be to us. They might be a bunch of boobs, too. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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  2. Joan Johnson-Freese

    A someone who works in this field, few people outside the field talk about “odds” so it’s great that you are — and have clearly reached more people than NASA sometimes does! For example, the “odds” of the Earth being hit by a devastating Near Earth Object (asteroid) are 100%, yet we are doing little to see these objects and potentially deflect them. The “odds” of life elsewhere, pretty hard, that “life” may not the same as we think of it, e.g. somebody with a bad driver’s license picture. Thank you for this piece!

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    • publikworks

      I enjoyed doing this one, Joan. I’m tickled you liked it, too : )

      Last year, I remember there was a bit of space junk hurtling toward earth. This thing was reportedly the size of a double-wide or a school bus — something along those lines. NASA, in their wisdom, couldn’t say when it was going to land. Or where. But they had calculated the odds of it landing on an particular individual. They were incredibly long, of course. They went on to say no one had ever been hit by falling space debris. And I thought to myself, “yet.” That’s when I started looking at NASA as less than experts.

      I’m with you. It may not be life as we know it, but there has to be life elsewhere.

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  3. Claire

    I don’t know odds or anything, but it seems highly unlikely (and perhaps quite self centered) to believe we are the only (and best?) planet with life. I have always wondered the same thing you brought up, about being a snowglobe/ant farm for another race. It is fun to think about because, well, who is to say either way? :)

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    • publikworks

      First of all, what a great puppy! (S)he’s just too cute.

      It is fun to think about, isn’t it? Maybe one day we’ll get to meet them, wouldn’t that be a hoot? Sort of a welcome wagon thing?

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  4. FurthermoreAndSoForth

    A martian ant farm. You, my friend, are brilliant.

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