The stars have always fascinated me. I was that kid who had the solar system plastered on his walls and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. As I grew older, the seed planted from laying in my bed staring at my plastic stars grew into laying out under the stars for hours, especially in August in Farragut, Idaho with minimal light pollution.
There has always been this allure to reach the unexplored around us. The early Americans called it Manifest Destiny, the idea that the settlers had the right to explore and claim the land they find for their own. Not the greatest concept, but that idea moved a nation across a country and traces of that notion made their way to the space race. We are explorers. Now we explore new feelings, new people, and explore more than just territories.
I had a discussion with a friend a while back on the finity of the universe, or if the universe is infinite and furthermore, if we are truly alone on this rock hurtling around the sun in a cosmic dance. He raised some concerns about the lack of evidence we have from that and had some religious qualms with the concept as well. For me, the answer is easy: I do not believe we are the only intelligent life in this grand universe.
See that. All of that? This is the latest image from the Hubble Telescope released late May 2014. Each of those bright dots is not a planet, nor a star, but an entire galaxy. There are roughly 10,000 galaxies in this picture. Each galaxy teeming with stars. And each star teeming with planets. And this might just be a drop in the bucket of the universe. And there are infinitely more galaxies that we don’t see here too.
For me, the sheer statistics involved with humanity being the only intelligent life is daunting and slightly ridiculous. To think that we are the only people capable of appreciating the grandeur that surrounds us, to explore the worlds once unreachable, and impact our own local worlds is incredibly selfish. It’s a rather lonely notion too.
Honestly, I feel negligible looking in the great expanse. But knowing that our actions here can cause a great deal of change gives me peace. The very same chemical building blocks found in the stars, the life engines of the universe, can be found in us. We have the power to change our universe. And that, gives me hope.