miércoles, 25 de agosto de 2010


Hollywood character Chichen Little
Disney Chicken Little. Courtesy of: www.keenandgraev.com

Edwin Francisco Herrera Paz

Definitely, in order to carry out the conquest of the the cosmos cherish for the heights is needed. Humans inherited that soar appreciation from our tree-dwelling primate ancestors who liked to jump from branch to branch, just for fun or in search of food, and between skip and jump from time to time the calculations failed and the game ended in monkey souffle. And this danger of ending up as a watermark on the dirty floor of the forest also conditioned our fear to heights.

What will we do when the earth is overpopulated and exceeds 12 billion people? No doubt we will float into the infinite space in search of environments, and sow our seed in the nearest and distant planets in this vast cosmos; we will create the technology to make the most inhospitable environments habitable; we will exploit energy resources at planetary system scales; and we will survive.

We will survive. Steadily throughout human history, mankind has proved stubborn myopia destroying the precious resources of our blue world. Yet the ingenuity, perseverance and determination of many good people have overcome each new challenge. I am optimistic. The great minds of humanity spend brain hours on the issues that could put us in jeopardy. And yet, there it is, the possibility of becoming victims of total annihilation. Then, the expectation that life on earth has placed upon us will fade into the mists of time. Terrestrial life must conform to continue contained in this little blue marble that is our planet until the end of days. Or not?
No doubt life will find a new way, a new shortcut to intelligence and complexity and will adventure again into the vast universe. For this, there are some candidates that could act as our substitutes. Marine mammals have high intelligence and a protolanguage, but their aquatic environment makes the impulse to ascend to infinity to ever be in them, only a remote possibility. The same happens with those other marine organisms of great cunning and intelligence, which are the cephalopods.

Elephants world spaceship and cosmos
Shifting to terrestrial creatures, elephants are famed for their longevity, memory, and care for family. Moreover, it has been demonstrated in experiments with mirrors that elephants possess consciousness of themselves. However, their gaze towards the floor makes it difficult for them to contemplate the night sky in its entire splendor. I don’t think that one day an intelligent descendant of an elephant could ever want to take a flight in a blimp.

The best candidates would be those organisms that once flew and occasionally will feel the longing to do it again. It could be the ostriches, or even the chickens. The only drawback is that they have a chicken brain, and nature would require an extremely long time to enlarge those tiny brain masses, and with no brains, there is no abstraction, no tools, and no technology (but if so, all this time we have been eating the ancestors of the conquerors of the universe).

Finally, very good candidates would be flying social insects, particularly bees. It is true that the honeycomb as a superorganism is still at a primitive stage of development, but there is a possibility that evolution could improve the colony toward a higher structure until self-consciousness and a willing to travel to the stars appear. Or isn't it that concsiusness raises from complexity?

Well, the truth is that the possibilities in nature are endless. Still, I have faith and hope that our replacement will not be necessary. It seems to me that the purpose of God in creating the laws that govern the evolution towards complexity is the conquest of the cosmos, and with it, the definite defeat of the death of the universe. We are the image and likeness of God because we are the most complex things on earth and the universe (until otherwise proven), and He has been with us until now. But that does not detract from the fact that we could be replaced. So we better take care of the privilege. 

We will survive. I have faith. 

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