Reposted from Truthout
Space. They say it’s the final frontier.
And they’ve probably been saying it for a long, long time. According to a recent study, active human exploration of space dates back at least 6,000 years. That’s when our star-struck ancestors constructed the first known “telescope” to assist them in their eager search of the observable universe.
We’ve certainly come — and gone — a long way since those early attempts to understand the night sky. We’ve been to the moon and landed on a surprisingly water-worn Mars. We’ve literally traveled time through the awe-inspiring “Deep Field” images collected by the Hubble telescope. And now the Kepler space observatory is bringing us tantalizingly closer to answering one of our oldest and most profound questions: Are we alone in the universe?”
So far, the orbiting telescope has found hundreds of potentially life-giving exoplanets peppered around the galaxy. It also found a surprising data anomaly that made big news as the beguilingly named “Alien Megastructure” star. The oddity of its intermittent, possibly structured dips in brightness sparked a truly earth-shattering hypothesis: What if an advanced civilization built a “megastructure” around the distant sun in a bid to harvest its energy? Or, even better, what if they placed a Jupiter-sized thingamajig in front of the star to signal their presence to other beings who, like them, longingly scan the universe in search of companionship?
Imagine how instantly gratified we’d be to find out we weren’t the only intelligent beings probing the deep, dark vacuum of space! It would be the ultimate validation. But this faint new hope of finding new kinship on a new planet is based on a fundamental fallacy. The fallacy is the notion that we are alone in the first place.
The real news is that we’re up to our necks in a “deep field” of 8.7 million sentient life forms right here on planet Earth. And we don’t need an orbiting telescope to see:
- Social spiders with personalities who sometimes selflessly share food with their neighbors … much to their own detriment.
- Humpback whale vigilantes who go out of their way to stop orcas from attacking other sea mammals … despite the alluring presence of their own main food source nearby.
- New Caledonian crows who make tools like finely feathered craftsmen and their brilliant cousins in the Corvid class of birds who have greater neural density than comparable mammals.
- African elephants who shed tears, bury and mourn their dead and their Namibian desert kin who pass down crucial knowledge of how to survive their harsh environment.
- Capuchin monkeys who reject “unequal pay” and chimpanzees who work together to achieve a communal goal.
- Pigs who can reason where food is by looking at its reflection in a mirror.
- Baby chickens who acquire math skills and successfully play games based on “object permanence” well before a proportionately-aged human baby.
That’s right, folks. While the Search For Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) spent the last three decades fruitlessly scanning the heavens in search of alien signals … we’ve actually been surrounded by a miraculous variety of intelligence on the only planet we know for a fact sustains life.
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