Reblogged from nasa.gov August 19th, 2009 at 6:58 pm Notes #NASA #science #biology #life
Humans might not be walking on Earth today if not for the ancient fusing of two microscopic, single-celled organisms called prokaryotes, NASA-funded research has found.
By comparing proteins present in more than 3000 different prokaryotes - a type of single-celled organism without a nucleus — molecular biologist James A. Lake from the University of California at Los Angeles’ Center for Astrobiology showed that two major classes of relatively simple microbes fused together more than 2.5 billion years ago. Lake’s research reveals a new pathway for the evolution of life on Earth.
It is known that there are an infinte number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.
Douglas Adams (via the405)August 25th, 2009 at 1:50 pm Notes #quotes #douglas adams #life
The spacecraft was a long way from home. I thought it would be a good idea, just after Saturn, to have them take one last glance homeward. From Saturn, the Earth would appear too small for Voyager to make out any detail. Our planet would be just a point of light, a lonely pixel hardly distinguishable from the other points of light Voyager would see: nearby planets, far off suns. But precisely because of the obscurity of our world thus revealed, such a picture might be worth having.
It had been well understood by the scientists and philosophers of classical antiquity that the Earth was a mere point in a vast, encompassing cosmos — but no one had ever seen it as such. Here was our first chance, and perhaps also our last.
So, here they are: a mosaic of squares laid down on top of the planets in a background smattering of more distant stars. Because of the reflection of sunlight off the spacecraft, the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there were some special significance to this small world; but it’s just an accident of geometry and optics. There is no sign of humans in this picture: not our reworking of the Earth’s surface; not our machines; not ourselves. From this vantage point, our obsession with nationalism is nowhere in evidence. We are too small. On the scale of worlds, humans are inconsequential: a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal.
Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings; thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines; every hunter and forager; every hero and coward; every creator and destroyer of civilizations; every king and peasant, every young couple in love; every mother and father; every hopeful child; every inventor and explorer; every teacher of morals; every corrupt politician; every supreme leader; every superstar; every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings; how eager they are to kill one another; how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known: the pale blue dot.
Carl Sagan - Introduction from Pale Blue DotOctober 30th, 2009 at 12:02 am 24 notes #carl sagan #space #earth #scale #life #quote
The ingredients for life as we know it have been found in the Orion Nebula.
By finely separating the spectrum of incoming light, astronomers are able to detect the chemical fingerprints of molecules like water and methanol. The spectrograph that their work produces can be seen in the image above. The peaks represent the presence of the molecule indicated.
The new data was collected by the Herschel Telescope, launched into space last year by the European Space Agency. Herschel’s HiFi instrument uses a new technique to do more-sensitive spectroscopy. It will enable scientists to better understand the chemistry of space.
The Orion Nebula is located about 1,300 light-years away. No very active star-forming region is closer to Earth. M42, as the nebula is also known, is 24 light-years across. [Wired]Reblogged from Wired March 8th, 2010 at 7:53 pm 207 notes #astronomy #chemistry #physics #life #Orion nebula #space
Reblogged from roomthily July 18th, 2010 at 9:27 pm 4 notes #life #adventures
People prefer main characters to follow a trail of clues via a map or book written by someone who has passed before, or at least to follow the advice of a wise old person.
This same explanation also works for adventure stories more generally. We imagine being the main character in an adventure, and want to fantasize that such a situation would let us more clearly demonstrate our great character to an admiring audience. As in video games, guides help these main characters avoid a lot of random searching.
This has a big lesson for those who like to think of their real life as a grand adventure: relative to fiction, real grand adventures tend to have fewer guides, and more randomness in success. Real adventurers must accept huge throws of the dice; even if you do most everything right, most likely some other lucky punk will get most of the praise.
If you want life paths that quickly and reliably reveal your skills, like leveling up in video games, you want artificial worlds like schools, sporting leagues, and corporate fast tracks. You might call such lives adventures, but really they are pretty much the opposite. If you insist instead on adventuring for real, achieving things of real and large consequence against great real obstacles, well then learn to see the glorious nobility of those who try well yet fail.
via Overcoming Bias
“ When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful… . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.
Ann Druyan, talking about her dead husband Carl Sagan (via savagemike, atheistramblings, phazerblast, jonahray, wordsbycodi, lunchbreak, emilyinternet, savagemike, classyandshit, sarahb, ljm, bowfolk, skirtonfire, definatalie, cpezaro, cjernigan)Reblogged from drinkthe-koolaid August 27th, 2010 at 2:12 pm 3,756 notes #Ann Druyan #Carl Sagan #death #life