I’m sorry, but as well as thoughts about little subjects like politics, architecture, spies, cricket and imperialism, I’m most of my time just now taken up with BIG thoughts; albeit with my tiny mind, which is why I don’t usually broadcast them. It all comes, I think, from my boyhood immersion in the Eagle’s ‘Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future’, and a sporadic diet of cerebral Science Fiction from then on: most recently the astonishing works of Cixin Liu. (Thanks, Ken, for introducing him to me.)
I sometimes think that any other concerns, problems, ambitions or loves that I or any of us may have pale into insignificance against our awareness of the vastness of the cosmos, and the thought that – for example – in just a few million years we shall all plunge into the sun. That’s why I actually – and uncharacteristically for a Leftie – applaud the efforts of capitalists like Elon Musk spending their ill-gotten millions venturing into space; if only to make the first steps towards saving the great achievements of human civilisation – music, poetry, art, the great cathedrals – in perpetuity, somewhere in the universe. I can’t stand the idea of Mozart’s not being for ever. If we have to go – humanity, that is – we must make sure that some at least of our best works, the things that in my view justify us as a species, have been hurled deeply enough into space to be picked up by aliens somewhere and at some time in the future, and so preserved. Otherwise why bother to paint, compose, build, sculpt, write novels and plays; or even, I suppose – though I don’t make great claims for these – history books. (So far as I’m concerned, the sun can have mine.)
Or will the internet do this for us? Will intelligent Proxima Centaurians be able to pick today’s Youtube up?…
(This post, incidentally, was stimulated by a scientific – not SF – piece I read on the internet this morning: https://bigthink.com/13-8/humans-universe/?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB. But that is so off-topic by comparison with my usual posts that it probably won’t interest other subscribers to this blog. Sorry again.)
It really is make-your-mind up time for the human race (or AI, if that is to be our successor species). To continue on our current trajectory ad astra, with science and progress and discovery and adventure, no matter where it leads, or to settle back into some kind of stable state, to rest on our laurels and build a new Jerusalem here on earth. Tough call. But the thing is that we have to decide for all future humans. If we decide to settle back, none of our descendants will be able to reverse that decision (because of the difficulty in building a technological society without access to surface oil, and because of the change in biochemistry on the earth since the oil fields were created, and because of several cosmic disasters heading Earth’s way in the next few hundred million years).
I don’t know. Part of me feels humans almost have a duty to go for it. It’s beginning to look like technological intelligent life is rare in the galaxy or even the universe, and we may well be alone. Some people think that doesn’t make any difference, but me, I think it almost gives us a purpose. (And I know that’s a completely unscientific way of thinking). I’m also with Bertram Russell: when asked about the possible extinction of the human race, he said that if it happens, it happens, but that it’d be a bit of pity.
In any case, if climate change is as bad as some are saying, it’s academic.
Well put!! I’m with you.
It is worth listening to Carl Sagan’s “Blue Dot” talk on U-tube….but beware of falling into a black hole, with a black dog, and black thoughts.
Will do – after steeling myself with a glass of Glenfiddich! Thanks for the tip.