Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some People Will Believe Anything.

This blog is rated PG 14.

Let me present a brief physical picture of the universe. Astronomers estimate that it contains about 100 billion galaxies. Each galaxy is estimated to contain between 10 million and one trillion stars. Assuming an average of 500 billion stars per galaxy, that means that the total number of stars in the universe is somewhere around 5 x 1022 stars. That is 5 followed by 22 zeros, and in words it is fifty sextillion stars.
Suppose one in a million of those stars has a planet capable of supporting intelligent life. That figures out to one in five followed by 16 zeros. Would you buy a lottery ticket that you had a one in 5 x 1016 (1 in fifty quadrillion) chance of winning?
Now consider that the nearest star to the earth, Proxima Centauri, is over four light-years away; someone coming from that star would have to travel as fast as a beam of light to get here in 4.2 years! And that star is not known to have any planets. Practically all stars are so far away that even if aliens could travel at the speed of light, which is a physical impossibility, they would have had to leave home many thousands of years ago!
What are the chances that some of those intelligent aliens out there would stumble upon the earth.? I say stumble upon, because if they were scientifically advanced enough to make such a journey, what could we possibly have that they would want?
Today I met a lady who had a dream that aliens came to her while she was asleep, and in order to find out more about earthlings, they probed every orifice of her body. She told her husband about it when she woke up, and he said [Editor’s note: Hopefully in jest], “Well it’s possible. Maybe aliens really did examine you!” Now hold your breath – she believed it!
If her husband had been at our discussion, I am not sure I could have refrained from asking him what he was doing while all this “dreaming” was going on. (Shame on me for what I was thinking). I hope she enjoyed her “physical.” (Stop it, Glenn. “Sorry.”)
What ever became of common sense? Where have all the science teachers gone? Has critical thinking gone the way of the eight track tape?

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