We are all aliens here – Part I
Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003
On a clear morning take a close look at a sunrise. Try to catch the sun just as it breaks above the horizon. Don’t be dumb and look directly at it without very dark sunglasses and then just long enough for you to realize that what you see is an exploding ball of hydrogen more than a million miles across. Fortunately it’s 93 million miles away, exactly right for sustaining life here on our planet earth that once was a barren ball of material formed of stardust that came from outer space. It eventually solidified and was pummeled and battered for millions of years by asteroids smashing in at thousands of miles per second.
Our sun is merely a star, one star among billions of stars that form our galaxy called the Milky Way. Our solar system is parked near the edge of the Milky Way, which contains more than 400,000,000,000 stars (suns). The part of our galaxy you see above you at night appears milky because there are so many stars out there. Even though they are billions of miles apart the night sky appears to be crowded with suns, faint little lights but each of them a sphere of exploding hydrogen. Our sun could easily contain over a million planets the size of earth. A hydrogen bomb requires only a kid’s toy balloon of hydrogen. Our sun has many millions of hydrogen bombs going off every second. We are incapable of imagining the energy output of our sun. It has been there about 13 billion years. A few billion more and it will get so hot we will be toast.
You can’t say &uot;up there&uot; because there is no &uot;up&uot; out there. A normal stance on any planet allows a line to be drawn from head to foot to the center of the planet. The law of gravity dictates that. It would be the same no matter which planet you were on in the entire universe. Gravity is the result of the weight of the planet; the heavier the planet the stronger the force. You can see, when a manned rocket lifts off, how difficult it is to leave this earth. It’s much easier to get off the moon simply because the moon weighs less. Answer this: is the moon another planet of the sun or a planet of earth? And if it is so close, how come there is no life on it like here on earth? Maybe your children know.
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I said there were billions of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, and there are billions of galaxies in the universe. Try this on for size: a handful of sand may contain a million grains of sand. So you would be staggered by the amount of grains of sand on an average beach. But for every grain of sand on every beach on earth there are at least a million stars in the universe. You better read that again. Now realize, too, that our sun is not the only star with planets circling around it. It would be foolish to think otherwise and our astronomers with very powerful telescopes find more suns with planets every day. You do the math to figure how many planets there could be in the universe. If there were a place from where you could look beyond the Milky Way galaxy, you’d see more galaxies spinning around out there than you could see stars from your front yard. When you can comprehend that, ask yourself if it is possible that we, the people on this planet earth, are alone in the vastness of the universe. If you nodded &uot;yes&uot; you are far beyond egotistic.
Our astronomers are working with others from many countries to send radio signals out to our galaxy in hopes someone out there is doing the same thing. They are certain that one day they will get an answer from a life form on a distant planet that is just as curious as we are. The problem is the &uot;distance.&uot; We have been sending signals for 50 years without much success. They did hear something but only for an instant. They realize if someone, or something, picks up our signal and &uot;replies,&uot; it would take another 50 years for the reply to make the trip back to earth. How far out did our signal travel during the fifty years? Just to a handful of nearby stars. &uot;Nearby&uot; is only a few billion miles out. It’s like you heading east to Moscow but just reaching Wilroy Road.
Do you realize that our planet earth is alive but shouldn’t be? The conditions, our location from our sun, were perfect for life to start. The 93 million miles from that exploding ball of hydrogen made it just right, not too hot or too cold. All that our beat-up bare stone planet needed was a spark. Every one of the required elements were here, all mixed up, all over the surface of the planet. Two questions: how did those elements get here, and what was the spark? It depends upon whom you ask, but check my next column.
Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org