It seems to be wired into the human brain to think that we are "special;" that we are unique and different, as a species.
An alien lifeform?
We tend to be biased, in that sense, when we look out into the Universe and speculate on both vastness of it all, as well as the possibility of life existing somewhere other than here.
I remember watching a nightly news show many years ago, in which Carl Sagan was complaining about the (then) recently released Star Wars movie, stating that it was far too "human-centric" and would be much more realistic if it was inhabited by completely unimaginable lifeforms.
The implication always seems to be that humans are unique and the chances that other life evolved to be a lot like us are virtually nil.
Scientists who spend a lot of time looking out into the universe seem to think there are about two trillion galaxies in the Universe. That's written 2,000,000,000,000. Meanwhile, some of those same scientists seems to think there are about one hundred billion stars here in our own Milky Way galaxy. That's written 100,000,000,000.
Now, we can talk a lot about whether or not the Milky Way is "little or large." Some astronomers estimate that there might be as many as seven trillion so-called "dwarf galaxies" that are not part of the aforementioned two trillion. Compared to those, the Milky Way is huge. On the other hand — at roughly 100,000 light years across — the Milky Way is tiny compared to a supergalaxy like IC 1101, which is an estimated 6,000,000 light years across and may house as many as 100 trillion stars.
But let's not talk a lot about that. Let's keep it somewhat simple.
Let us just say the Milky Way is pretty average... and if we do that, we end up with two hundred sextillion stars in the Observable Universe. That's written 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is a very large number of zeros!
Whereas scientists don't know a lot about the greater universe, there are some things we are pretty certain about. One of those is that things are pretty much the same, everywhere. A water molecule is a water molecule pretty much everywhere. Carbon is carbon. Given types of stars work in a consistent way no matter where they are, and thus emit the same radiation, no matter where they are. A drop of liquid in the absence of gravity will assume a spherical shape, no matter where it is.
Back when Carl Sagan made his complaints about Star Wars' lack of diversity, the idea of "exoplanets" was pretty much theory. In fact, many in the scientific community believed that our solar system with its planers — including Earth — might be close to unique in the Universe.
Then the first exoplanet was found and confirmed in 1995. As I write these words, we're getting close to 5,000 confirmed exoplanets having been catalogued and many of them are "Earth-like." Scientists are even beginning to suspect that stars with orbiting planets might be more common than stars without planets.
Of course, where I am going with this is that the more we head down the road of discovery, the more we seem to be dis-proving our ostensible uniqueness.
Now, let us return to that ridiculously large number from before and instead overlay it with this tendency for "things to be the same everywhere in the universe." I mean, just look at our planet: We don't have different pine trees for every soil type, every amount of rainfall, every temperature, every altitude... we have very similar pine trees across a broad spectrum of conditions. And even if they are identifiably different species, we all can pretty much recognize a pine tree as a pine tree.
So doesn't it seem likely that wherever carbon based intelligent lifeforms have come into being, that they would be somewhat similar, rather than unique?
What if the most common way for intelligent life to reach sentience is not unlike what we humans have turned into? What if "first contact" will actually be with something not unlike ourselves, rather than something vastly different from ourselves?
What if we're really not that unique?
Thanks for reading, and have a great remainder of your week!
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Created at 20211221 00:32 PST