Wednesday, March 16, 2016

life, the universe, and everything

So if you know not to panic, and to bring a towel... then you certainly get the reference in the title.  I loved all five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe trilogy - yes you read that correctly.  And I rarely go to the beach without murmuring "so long and thanks for all the fish" (the note the whales left when they "disappeared" from earth.)

In this hilarious series, which I later convinced a number of my friends to read- probably not 42 friends but a number, the answer to the question of the meaning of life was finally revealed... and why, you may ask, am I raving like this? Because today we attended an Einstein's Circle lecture on "Is there intelligent life in the Universe?" moderated by the terrific Jeff Rodgers of the Bishop Planetarium (formerly of the Hayden Planetarium)

So of course we already knew that in general the answer to that question is NO- but if we didn't know it before we certainly have learned it this election cycle. This afternoon we got to address the essential mediocrity of the planet earth's place in the universe-  and about now I think I should throw in one of my star pictures to keep those of you who need visual aids, interested in some of the "deep thoughts" I am about to impart.

pretty good one huh?

anyway- back to the lecture- LOL- I could spend hours trying to recreate the esoteric nature of the discussion but instead I will leave you with the equivalent of hieroglyphics- better known as my notes... you would think from how lacking in actual enlightenment they are - that I had written them in the dark.  But NO- the lights never went down - the dark was only virtual - not literal...

only these two photos are mine the rest came from the internet- just so I don't take credit for them...

Mediocre or unique greatness
Equation Sagan and Drake on how likely there is life out there...
Multiverse vs universe
Quantum world / Planck space
Our universe went from the size of  a grapefruit to 62 million light years across in less than one second.
When there is an infinite number of suits in the shop you can find one that fits perfectly which is how earth is for us...
Parallel universe/many universe /string theory (other dimensions)
Dogon people -visited by others before? (here I am resorting to wikipedia - as I have never heard of these folks who are alleged to have been visited by aliens and endowed with superior alien knowledge- Certain researchers investigating the Dogon have reported that they seem to possess advanced astronomical knowledge, the nature and source of which have subsequently become embroiled in controversy.)
Disappearing garbage cans that the aliens stole in NYC. Fermi- Where is everyone? In our mediocre universe. Fermi paradox...
Run the Drake equation. N= 0.8 per Jeff's calculation this year
Sagan ran it - said n= millions "but it could be lower"
Probable? then where are they ?
Great filter theory....we don't see them b/c all levels must be exactly met in order to have life. That creates animals with big brains who make tools. Colonize solar system. And then beyond.
Cosmic zoo -  pay attention to certain milestones. If we become responsible citizens then all will be revealed.
Other side - dangerous to interact one side always loses (Spanish and new world decimation of native population)
Actively looking SETI and other missions seeking information - we're listening and watching found zippo...
why the one star's light flickers of and off- theory "Dyson sphere" to theoretically harness energy of their sun/star. (OK here I am going to add the wiki definition for the 99.9% of us who never heard of this concept before - A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures most or all of its power output.)
What existed before the big bang? Just because we don't know doesn't mean we have to insert the supernatural.
Intelligent communicative life = 0.8 (Jeff's Drake equation number for this year)
He says he is a "rare earther" and thinks we may be it-
Great filter - a bottleneck along the way and maybe there are others who got to their end limit. Or the process ends in destruction and we just haven't gotten to the filter yet...

insert another stunning photo here as conclusion - LOL

So what did we learn? we don't know - we may never know- we don't really need to know- or maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention LOL...

In youth, I didn't go to this class- I went to the Ram Das class and learned to "Be Here Now" (and am probably the happier for it...)

So I am going with 42 as my answer because I always admired Douglas Adams... if another answer comes to me in a dream state I will get back to you! meanwhile- enjoy your life during this period of the universe expanding... because I am going to fall back on a quote I heard from Dr. William Glaser the father of "reality therapy", which was one of the various modalities of therapy we studied in my Master's program.  In the film we saw in class, he was asked by the interviewer about death and "was there something else out there?" - his response- a direct quote easy to remember- LOL

"when you are dead you are fucking dead"  - So I figure when the universe is done expanding - it could be like Porky Pig's ending for every Looney Tunes cartoon I watched as a kid

"That's all folks!"

so long and thanks for all the fish!

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