If you frequent my Random Thoughts blog you know I love thinking about this. The below article, to me puts humans and for that matter (pun intended) everything else into perspective.
Each step from hydrogen to the other elements relies upon rare celestial and quantum processes. It is a parade of flukes that leads from primordial matter to us. Each link in the chain is not only unlikely, but extremely sensitive to the physics involved. If the strong force binding protons together were just 2 percent stronger, helium-2 would stable (pdf). Fusion would occur much more easily, and the first generation of hot, dense stars would not have emerged. Tweak any part of the process and the Universe would look very different, and we likely wouldn’t exist.
Perhaps, and most likely, it is because I am super weird, but I love thinking about how small I am along with the fact that I am beyond incredibly luck to draw my next breath. I have often said that it is near unfathomable to understand how insane it is that we are consciously aware of the universe. The universe is unconscious, as far as we know, but has spawned something that is consciously aware that it exist. Pretty crazy to think about. The other insane thought is that all the stuff that we are made of came from exploding stars. That is also pretty nuts to think about. The article goes into more detail about how long it takes a star to create the heavier elements that are responsible for intelligent life.
I liken this to us making a phone or some other device that become self aware that was never meant to. AI I would not put in that category as it was made to become self aware or at least be able to think for itself. A phone or a ball or whatever was never meant to be have those characteristics. When you start to think about it it is very bizarre to think about, then the next logical question is to start to figure out why or how that is possible
It is very strange to think that a mere 2% difference and we would not be here, basically there is no room for error. Really makes you think how lucky we are and have been in the grand scheme of things. Cosmically there is no shortage of reasons why we should not be here and every day presents a set of new possibilities to wipe our existence from the universe.
Hawking makes the assertion in his book The Grand Design that the universe would spawn life that was capable of observing it. So if something as mentioned in the above article happened differently that would probably lead to a series of events that may or may not create life that would be able to observe that universe. These ideas basically outline the Anthropic Principle. Again this is very interesting to think about and to me always leads back to a field I believe that is very important, Philosophy!
I don’t mean to switch gears but I am going to. This next article I found is about interstellar travel. I love to speculate about this and think about how we could accomplish this.
I carry quite the negative connotation when it comes to this idea, still I love thinking about it though. One thing I did not consider in my theories was just how massive the universe itself actually is. The article says that it takes light 2,000,000 to get to the next galaxy. I wonder if light from one side of the universe has reached the other yet? Something tells me I doubt it. That is real big! I have also read that if we scale down the universe to the size of a basketball, the area we can visibly see and observe is less than the size of a single grain of sand! I think there are a multitude of reasons why humans will never colonize the universe, the sheer size of it is just another obstacle standing in our way.
The article does make a good point about that if we have the technology for interstellar travel then we should have something to help fix the Earth. I agree with that, but to me creates a circular argument. If we have the technology to fix the planet then why go anywhere else? I also believe that our species has a inner yearning to explore so regardless of what condition our planet is in in the future we could set our sights for the stars no matter what. I think this will be the case, as the article alludes to as well. Something this article does not talk about is what that technology to fix the planet would be, not only that but if the human race would become dependent on that technology. That in a sense is a scary scenario.
One of the last articles I posted talked about turning the Earth into a space ship, basically because of this new technology. In my mind it already is a space ship. It is a spaceship to the extreme and most massive scale, luckily for us it maintains itself. I honestly think that no matter how bad the planet gets leaving is never going to be a viable option, unless some drastic scientific advancements are made in the very near future. I will not be holding my breath for that though, the stars will have to wait.