What are we, Homo Sapiens sapiens?
We have exploded onto this planet, going off like a firework; like a supernova or a volcanic eruption in slow motion. Like a flower that blooms for just one day a year…before withering away. A unique and singular event in the planet’s history. Perhaps the course of human scientific development was always going to follow this path: one of a fantastic rise followed by a cataclysmic crash. Because all natural processes obey life cycles, and the appearance of intelligent life is a natural process like any other, it may be similarly bound to a cycle of life and death. Some cycles are long and measured in cosmic time – billions of years. Some are measured in geologic deep time – millions of years, and some are short – only thousands of years. Perhaps the human race is now is reaching the end of its lifespan – an incredibly short one by the longer measures of the lives of planets and stars, but not less for that shortness. It will be a spectacle. It will be amazing.
Like a drop of water that spends the majority of its life in the ocean or in clouds, falling down into puddles, waiting years for that special moment, so preciously brief, when the conditions are just perfect, that it might fall to the Earth as a snowflake. An elegant masterpiece of self-organization.
The physical laws that describe the evolution chaos and order – the laws of thermodynamics – guarantee that highly organized structures cannot persist without consuming amounts of energy in keeping with their complexity. It is easy enough for us to understand from our daily experience that the more complicated something is the easier it is for it to break. More difficult is to abstract this observation out from daily experience and see it an expression of more absolute principles.
It is this tendency to chaos that guarantees highly organized phenomena will always be fleeting; their brevity is a result of the amount of resources and energy necessary to construct and maintain them. Of course, our modern civilization is typified by its size, complexity and technology. When it fails finally, it will be due to our inability to meet with the resource costs incurred by our advancement as a complex society.
Mathematician and Philosopher Bertrand Russell: “When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only, ‘what are the facts, and what is the truth that the facts bear out?’ Never let yourself be diverted either but what you wish to believe or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only and solely at what are the facts.”
About this blog.