Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
.InshAllah.

Humanity is cosmically special

Rate this topic

9 posts in this topic

Humanity is cosmically special.

Here’s how we know.

 
 
 
Year_In_Space_Photo_Gallery-0048d.jpg?uuid=MOBpvuF7EeWNmEs9khWt4Q
A sunrise from the vantage point of the International Space Station. (Scott Kelly/NASA via Associated Press)
By Howard A. Smith November 25

Howard A. Smith is a lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy and a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

 

 

 

As we give thanks for our many obvious blessings, let’s reflect on a blessing that is less well known, a gift from modern astronomy: how we view ourselves.

 

There was a time, back when astronomy put Earth at the center of the universe, that we thought we were special. But after Copernicus kicked Earth off its pedestal, we decided we were cosmically inconsequential, partly because the universe is vast and about the same everywhere. Astronomer Carl Sagan put it this way: “We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star.” Stephen Hawking was even blunter: “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet.”

An objective look, however, at just two of the most dramatic discoveries of astronomy — big bang cosmology and planets around other stars (exoplanets) — suggests the opposite. We seem to be cosmically special, perhaps even unique — at least as far as we are likely to know for eons.

The first result — the anthropic principle — has been accepted by physicists for 43 years. The universe, far from being a collection of random accidents, appears to be stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life. The strengths of the four forces that operate in the universe — gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions (the latter two dominate only at the level of atoms) — for example, have values critically suited for life, and were they even a few percent different, we would not be here. The most extreme example is the big bang creation: Even an infinitesimal change to its explosive expansion value would preclude life. The frequent response from physicists offers a speculative solution: an infinite number of universes — we are just living in the one with the right value. But modern philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and pioneering quantum physicists such as John Wheeler have argued instead that intelligent beings must somehow be the directed goal of such a curiously fine-tuned cosmos.

There is, moreover, a well-known constraint: the finite speed of light, which ensures that even over thousands of years we will only be able to communicate with the comparatively few stars (tens of millions) in our cosmic neighborhood. If the combined astronomical, biological and evolutionary chances for life to form and evolve to intelligence are only 1 in 10 million, then we probably have no one to talk to.

The discovery of exoplanets was dramatic but not unexpected: Since the Greeks, we have imagined planets were common. Textbooks even taught that our solar system was typical. But the exotic diversity of exoplanets came as a surprise. Many have highly elliptical orbits around unstable stars, making evolution over billions of years difficult if not impossible; other systems contain giant planets that may have drifted inward, disrupting orbits; and there are many other unanticipated properties. These unexpected discoveries are helping scientists unravel Earth’s complex history.

The bottom line for extraterrestrial intelligence is that it is probably rarer than previously imagined, a conclusion called the misanthropic principle. For all intents and purposes, we could be alone in our cosmic neighborhood, and if we expand the volume of our search we will have to wait even longer to find out. Life might be common in the very distant universe — or it might not be — and we are unlikely to know. We are probably rare — and it seems likely we will be alone for eons. This is the second piece of new evidence that we are not ordinary.

 

Some of my colleagues strongly reject this notion. They would echo Hawking: “I can’t believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.” Yes, we all have beliefs — but beliefs are not proof. Hawking’s belief presumes that we are nothing but ordinary, a “chemical scum.” All the observations so far, however, are consistent with the idea that humanity is not mediocre at all and that we won’t know otherwise for a long time. It seems we might even serve some cosmic role. So this season let us be grateful for the amazing gifts of life and awareness, and acknowledge the compelling evidence to date that humanity and our home planet, Earth, are rare and cosmically precious. And may we act accordingly

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/humanity-is-cosmically-special-heres-how-we-know/2016/11/25/cd327520-b0cc-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html?utm_term=.a041d911ceaa

Edited by .InshAllah.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Atheists always have a hard time arguing against the fine tuning of the universe. The fine tuning of the universe diminishes the theory that the universe and life came by chance, and shows us how impossible and absurd such theories are. Knowing this and to save themselves, physicists introduced the multiverse theory which is even more absurd, a theory that says our universe is not the only universe, but one of infinite amount of universes. With the multiverse theory, the fine tuning of the universe coming by chance goes from impossible to very likely because there has to be at least one fine tuned universe out of infinite. But there's zero evidence of other universes out there, and atheists will do anything to denounce the existence of god.

ErikCartman and Pearl178 like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the issue with atheists is of arrogance. Not of evidence. They are extraordinarily arrogant with their approach. 

Pearl178 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My reading of various Shia texts suggests that it is unlikely we'll be wiped out by malevolent aliens or have our own development stymied by them.

Pearl178 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Humans are certainly cosmically special... equipped with our 'unique' greed and stupidity we are slowly destroying life on the very planet we live.

But there is always hope:

Maybe one day, when all the Land is Barren 
and all the Forests are burned
When all the rivers are poisoned
and all the fish taken from the sea
people will realize they cannot eat money .

 

Happy New year to everybody!  

:)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 31/12/2016 at 9:46 AM, .InshAllah. said:

stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life

Interesting to note how many references there are to the notions of precision and measurement in the Qu'ran.

.InshAllah., Pearl178 and YAli like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.