Continuum

"Kepler images were amazing…the equivalent of a seaman’s first glimpse of a new continent’s coastline, and a shout Land! Land!, where none might have existed. An estimated hundred billion star systems make up our Milky Way galaxy…the discoveries affirm that the Earth is not the center of the Universe—we’ve known since Copernicus and Galileo—but just how far from the center has been hard to imagine. The tiny blue speck we call home is proportionally no more than that, a mote of stardust near the edge of our galaxy among a hundred billion or more galaxies in the universe. It occupies just one position in a continuum of planets, moons…"

Edward O. Wilson The Meaning of Human Existence

My first reaction to Wilson's placement of humanity against the continuum of the universe, as a mote of stardust, was one of feeling small and maybe inconsequential.

But, lets pause and think about this.

Given the high probability life surely exists somewhere else in our vast universe, even in our own galaxy, makes us not small, nor inconsequential, but, rather, special and with purpose!

As Wilson would argue, life and humanity as we know it, as Homo Sapiens, is the result of evolutionary twists and turns and accidents over a continuum measured in billions of years. Millions of planets where forming around millions of suns four and a half billion years ago when our Earth was starting to form.  Fortunately for earliest microbial life forms (and for us) Earth found itself just the right distance from our sun.  Not too close.  Not too far.

The probability of microbial life on other planets or moons in our solar system is high considering we have discovered on Earth microbial life in our deepest oceans  and at the highest extremes of our atmosphere.  We have even found it in fiery volcanos.  The search is on to find it elsewhere in our solar system and beyond.

Scientists are discovering planets, light years away, circling their suns, that meet the "Goldilocks" test. Not too close. Not too far.  Given the vastness of our Universe, the probability of life even more advanced than Homo Sapiens is highly probable. Surely, whatever life is out there, microbial or advanced, has evolved through a series of unique twists and turns and accidents over billions of years.  Just as we have.

So, to be who we are, against the vastness of this continuum...Makes us unique...Makes us special...And with purpose!

As Carl Sagan said in the first pages of his book Cosmos, "The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be...In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans evolved to wonder, that understanding is joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival."  he went on to say "I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky...We are made of star stuff."

*************************************************************************************************************************************