of the Emerging Movement for Conscious Evolution
How special are earthlings?
We Earthly inhabitants are part of the quirky creativity of the Universe. The
more we get to know about our selves and our situation, the more oddly special
-- even unlikely -- we seem to be. Here are four examples of how we are special
beings living at a special time, place and scale, inspired by Joel R. Primack
and Nancy Ellen Abrams' new book The
View from the Center of the Universe:
- We are made of stardust -- elements forged in the atomic heat of stars and
exploding supernovas -- which happens to be the rarest substance in the universe.
Amazing as it may seem, the kinds of atoms we are familiar with (and are made
of) constitute less than 1 percent of all the matter and energy in the universe.
95% of the rest is now thought to be made of "dark energy" and "dark
matter", about which we know precious little except that it exists in
vast and powerful quantities.
- We have developed telescopes at the very evolutionary moment when the accelerating
expansion of the universe will be taking the most distant galaxies out of
possible view. Until recently, the expansion of the universe was slowing down.
Now it is speeding up. Future astronomers will not be able to see all the
galaxies we see now.
- We live at the middle of all possible sizes, between the vast patterns
of intergalactic spacetime and the mysteries of quantum fields and subatomic
particles. Primack and Abrams call this "Midgard", bounded by the
smallest and largest neighbors we can see with our naked eyes -- tiny bugs
and our sun. Primack and Abrams note that "Life of our complexity could
bloom on no other size scales."
- We live at the natural midpoint of Earth's era of complex life, which started
about half a billion years ago and will likely end about half a billion years
hence, when the expansion of the sun and changes in Earth's orbit will make
our home planet inhospitable for life like us.