Stephen Hawking, arguably one of the most brilliant men alive, just came out and said that there probably were alien life forms in the universe, and we probably should not go looking for them! He said that based on how Earthlings have treated exploration (i.e. conquest) of other cultures we should be willing to consider the fact that aliens might not be very nice. He mentioned Christopher Columbus and the treatment of Native Americans as an example. There is going to be a Discovery Channel series on him called called Stephen Hawking’s Universe. Here is the link.
Now, normally I would not consider this too seriously. But, I just saw the film District 9, which was such a realistic view of alien life and our likely treatment of aliens as “others”, that I took notice. The film was great, really clever and very well done. I highly recommend it. And, I saw the Hubble 3D film too, which is such a magnificent journey into a very very very large cosmos. There just has to be other life forms than us in all those billions of stars. As Hawking says, “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational”.
I’m on my back deck watching the stars come out. And I saw such a bright light in the western sunset, that I knew it was Venus. Its like a sparkling diamond in the sky, in the west at sunset. But there was a small light next to it, and I knew it was a planet too, and thought it was Mercury. But since I wasn’t sure I opened a great free downloadable program called Stellarium (www.stellarium.org) and yes, it was Mercury. And Mars is out too, near the constellation of Gemini. Then I started to find other constellations using Stellarium. Orion is beautiful, as is Sirius, and I am very familiar with them. But I found all of Gemini the Twin (not just their heads, but also their feet!), and Taurus, the bull, with her beautiful horns. Then Auriga, and Perseus and Andromeda. They are the main characters in the new Clash of the Titans. Maybe its a sign I better go to the film!
Get this great program and find the stars yourself. Its pretty easy to do.
Last night my husband and I went to see the Imax show of Hubble 3D. It was absolutely amazing and as close to space as I’m likely to get. The 45 minute film showed the initial launching of the Hubble camera, and then the fixes that have been made to the lenses over the years. The most recent fix was in 2009 when a wide range lens was added, allowing even more amazing photos to be taken. After participating in the fascinating work of the astronauts, including training underwater on a full size replica of Hubble, we get to go for a ride through space using the awe inspiring photos sent back by this amazing camera.
Some of the images (in 3D!) were of the nebula in the Orion constellation. Orion, with his hunting dog Sirius, are two of my favorite constellations because they are so easy to identify and have such a great mythic story. The camera takes us into the center of the nebula in Orion’s belt where stars are forming. I can’t express how fantastic it is. Then we go out, out, out, to the edge of space, past billions!!! of galaxies. Wow, is all I can say.
And in all of these billions of stars, the earth stands out as our livable, protective space. I really got, in a visceral way, how huge the universe is and how our Earth is a delicate jewel in this sea of space. I wish everyone could see this movie, so we would quit destroying this planet with pollution and nuclear bombs, and instead do all we can to protect this fragile egg that so delicately surrounds us and protects us.
You can find out more about the film and see some of these awe-inpsiring photos at http://hubblesite.org/
In peace, and here’s to Earth Day!