Earthlings: Nightmare neighbors of the universe

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

OK, fellow Earthlings, New Scientist has forced us to take a hard look in the mirror, and we're not doing it alone.

This week's issue asks the philosophical question, "What is humanity's place in the universe?"

On Earth, we rule the roost: Homo sapiens is the planet's most intelligent, influential and destructive species. We are so dominant that we are considering naming an entire geological epoch after ourselves, the Anthropocene.

But there's a whole universe out there. How do we measure up by that cosmic yardstick? 

Are we really the only intelligence? What, if anything, does the rest of the universe know about us? Could we, or should we, spread to other planets? What, if anything, will our lasting legacy be?

So many questions, and so many troubling answers. First off, would you really feel good if we were the only intelligence in the universe? Would you really like us to be the pinnacle? Just to offer some perspective, one of the most popular cable series on Earth is about guys living in a swamp. It's sort of symbolic.

As for what "the rest of the universe know about us," what do you think they see? We kill each other en masse over religious, racial and political reasons (in other words, for nothing), we like to blow things up, we pollute our home and appear eager to pollute outer space. We're the angry, volatile neighbors of the universe. If there were an interstellar version of the TV show "Cops," we would be on it every week. Without a shirt.

Could we, or should we, spread to other planets?...

"OK, if the Earthlings are moving in next door, we're outta here."

This story, "Earthlings: Nightmare neighbors of the universe" was originally published by Fritterati.

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