January 29, 2010

Animals and Man ...

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. -Henry Beston.

Wonderful and lyrical ...

Seems similar to Loren Eiseley …

Man is an animal as well …

All animals have reached where they have through evolution spanning millions of years …

I think of the planet as it would have been in the age of the dinosaurs … a reptilian world.

Go back a hundred thousand years in time and the planet was lush with greenery and mammals would have been roaming all over the North American and South American and African plains … wildebeests and zebras and bisons and lions and tigers and wild horses perhaps … not many humans around.

Today, humans have come to be the lord and master of this planet … the keeper as well as the destroyer to some extent.

What of the future?

I think of a future without humans …

Humans are after all products of some random mutations.

May be, evolution might have stopped with our simian brethren …

I am trying to imagine a world with only the humans somehow eliminated. Who would dominate such a planet?

May be, a dynamic balance would prevail between predator and prey as it does in jungles all over the world.

Can evolution stop? Does evolution stop? Is it inevitable that once life and evolution begin, that process would eventually and relentlessly lead to the creation of ‘intelligent’ species such as humans?

Certainly, there’s no shortage of time for evolution to proceed at its own languorous pace.

We ourselves bear witness to perhaps millions of years of evolutionary heritage. The Earth was arguably mostly barren until the time of the Cambrian explosion some 500 million years ago.

So, for about 4,000 million years, the planet was in some ways mostly barren.

And out of its 4,700 million year history, humans have appeared on stage in the last 0.1 million years.

And the planet has probably as many years ahead of itself.

If nothing occurs to destroy the planet, there’s no reason why it would not go on and on … revolving around its home star … until that star itself reaches the end of its life and begins to die.

What are humans going to accomplish in all those millions and millions of years ahead of us?

The pace of human development is ever accelerating …

In the last one hundred years, we have accomplished more technologically than in all our past history combined.

Surely, in this century, we’ll accomplish at least 10 times as much as we accomplished in the last.

And so on.

In a thousand years from now, when we will be long gone from the stage of the world and our memory will be long gone (is that the understatement of the century?), humans will …

I do not know where our descendants will be then …

I think we will have evolved into some sort of bionic creatures … half human and half machine … perhaps immortal.

I think the galaxy is teeming with planets around other stars.

I look forward to humanity discovering all those planets. I don’t know whether those planets would be mostly teeming with homegrown life already. Else, we humans can colonize them and terraform them.

Humans will become a species that grows from being residents of one planet to having outposts across the galaxy … a long range process that will surely take thousands upon thousands of years.

We will certainly need to spread to other planets …

I believe humans will some somehow learn to solve the riddle of life and death and humans will also always want to have kids.

So, we will need more and more planets where all these billions of humans can be located.

Too fascinating a future.

What of our time on this planet? Is it the best of times or the worst of times?

Many have written (I think I have Carl Sagan in mind as I write this) that they have felt lucky to have lived when they did.

May be we are lucky that we live in a time when science has revealed to us most of the workings of nature and we are not mystified when natural processes occur … rain, storms, earthquakes, tides in the oceans, solar eclipses, lightening, etc.

The flip side is that we are still a relatively primitive society in terms of technology … and what is worse is knowing that certain things will inevitably become possible in the future … but not now.

For example: I am sure in a hundred years from now, people would be travelling to Mars over the weekend … if not to the edge of the Solar System just to take a look back at our home planet which would appear to be a ‘pale blue dot’ (to borrow again from Sagan) from near the orbit of Uranus ...

1 comment:

  1. hi sachi
    well written. encompasses a wonderful view of future as well as the past beautifully.


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