Thursday, March 09, 2006

Meme: Weekend Assignment #102

Weekend Assignment #102: Life Out There?

This is big news: They've found evidence of liquid water on a moon of Saturn. And where's liquid water, there is the possibility (possibility! Possibility only) of life as we know it:

If Enceladus does harbor life, it probably consists of microbes or other primitive organisms capable of living in extreme conditions, scientists say.

David Morrison, a senior scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute, cautioned against rushing to judgment about whether the tiny moon could support life. "It's certainly interesting, but I don't see how much more you can say beyond that," Morrison said.

Which leads us to this week's Weekend Assignment:

Weekend Assignment #102: Do you honestly think there is life out there in the universe? And if so, what kind of life do you think it is?

Extra Credit: Name your favorite (fictional) alien creature.

Dear John,

Life as we know it on Saturn? Not bloody likely. Not anywhere else in this solar system, either.

That's not to say that some semblance of life might not be found someday on another spherical satellite of Sol besides “Earth” itself. But, “not in my lifetime” is a pretty safe bet.

But then you just had to get into that deep, dangerous well of speculation, didn't you? Life in the universe? Well, I don't believe in coinkydinks (coincidences, for the non-inebriated out there). So the prospect of life occurring on only one of a seemingly infinite number of planets is asking a bit more incredulity than I can muster. I suspect there are all sorts of planets supporting life, both as we know it, and so far beyond what Philip K. Dick could conjure on a good day, as to be unrecognizable.

Positing it is possible that humans, so-called “mankind” will manage to reach a soi generis maturation allowing these bipedal simians to look outward beyond the simple acquisition of “more, more, more,” I suspect what will be found in that distant, hoped-for future, will be an awfully large amount of nothing and a thimbleful of microbes and single-cell phenomena, with a soupcon of planets supporting plant life as we understand the meaning of plants. It may be centuries after the initial discoveries before the first mammalian or reptilian beings with a high-order civilization is discovered. May be thousands of years before an actual humanoid race is run into.

Or, the Federation may come swinging forth into our twenty-fourth century to extend an invite to join (before we blow up some incredibly important relay point at aphelion above the North Pole). The Talons may even now be fleeing their home system in search of a new planet to reestablish their civilization upon, now that their own, older version of Sol has gone cold and dim,

Or, then again, the universe is just waiting for the embargo to be lifted by Rotcod Ohw before overrunning us with the intergalactic equivalent of “spam.”

There you have it. Speculation without elimination. Forethought of malapropism.

Hugs and kisses to the Mrs.; give the wee munchkin a hug, too. Do tell her the bestest aliens in the whole, wide, wonderful universe are “Fuzzies” (see H. Beam Piper Little Fuzzy (1962) and Fuzzy Sapiens (1964) recounted in one volume in 1980 as The Fuzzy Papers, ACE, 1980.)


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