I often sit, pondering the great mysteries of life, such as: what happens to us after we die? Do you pour the water or milk first, when making tea? Why do cats reach the lofty heights of YouTube stardom? But, more often than not, these conundrums pale in the face of perhaps the most important puzzle. Are we alone in the universe?
NASA have recently released a 1.5 billion pixel image of the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light-years away), taken by the Hubble Telescope. The image itself is outstanding, if not mesmerizing, spanning a region of 40,000 light years. Astonishingly the image does not cover the entire galaxy itself! Such a scale is difficult to comprehend. Such a scale, therefore, begs the question, if it does not demand it, are we alone? To which the answer must simply be no, no we cannot be alone. Statistically, it seems incomprehensible, but even attempting to understand how we could be the only ones, it is difficult to put into words. That we alone reside in the vast darkness punctuated by small blips of light, how could that be possible? Have we been cursed by the random but precise paradigms of creation? Despite probability and all the maths humanity could muster, are we destined to roam this void alone? The Milky Way and Andromeda remain two galaxies in well … a soup galaxies.
Picture from: http://www.iflscience.com/space/spectacular-new-hubble-image-universe
Hubble’s picture of the universe (as seen above) shows just that. Equally both the Milky Way and Andromeda house billions of stars, orbited by countless plants, many of which sit in ‘habitable zones’. We may never met or see another race or civilisation, humanity may burn itself out by then, Earth may not be able to support us long enough, or some cataclysmic event may occur. But to assume we are alone is a narrow minded outlook bred by our seeming position of dominance in our known universe. We may never be able to truly comprehend or wrap our minds around this fundamental question. But I say, we cannot be alone.
(This of course is my point of view and in no way reflects the views of NASA, or anyone other than myself for that matter)
For more information, and to see Hubble’s sharpest picture yet, look at these links below and enjoy: