Ooh I saw Stars…

One of the most amazing sights in my life was while sitting in the middle of the Northern Iraqi desert on a border mission with nothing whatsoever as far as the eye could see. What I did see was more stars in one glance than I’d probably ever seen in my whole life combined. And yes, the Milky Way is real. If you can appreciate it, it will in fact, take your breath away.

I’ve come close to seeing it again as I drove a semi-truck route through northern Oregon and stopped for a much needed rest. It was high on a ridge where I pulled off and I crawled up and sat on the top of the trailer to see the asteroid shower come down as if I was in a Star Wars scene.

No matter your position on ‘greater’ things, there is no denying the amazement when you put in perspective the sheer insignificance we have in this universe.

We can comprehend the smell of a loved one’s scent, or the taste of our favorite meal. We can comprehend the reality of something that we purchase with money… but even though the stars are right in front of us, can we really comprehend the truth?

Living in Southern California is not the best place for seeing stars. Period. Even if I drive out into the desert there’s too much light pollution to really see the amazing stuff.

The few times I can look up in traffic at night I may see a star or two (or planet… whatever). I know it’s nothing magical. It’s a tangible ‘thing’ that is there. Science can explain the rest.

What it really does for me is remind me that no matter how much I try to deny it, there is a purpose for this crazy life. I stare at a star as long as I can to try and clear my mind to make sense of it. I put my mind a million miles away to force a disconnect from the constant noise I hear every day in my head. Some days I can’t stop it. Not alcohol, not sleep, nor anything else I’ve done in my past can silence it.

Sometimes I yearn  for the presence of another person but I am constantly smacked in the back of the head with reminders of betrayal over the years. I lose myself in it, and in turn I lose control of what I need to be for everyone else. Tonight, I saw a few stars and it brought me back to reality quicker than I could look away to see the car in front of me slowing down. We really need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Not just in space, but this life in general.

I miss the stars. I miss going home, sitting outside with a beer (and even a friend) and doing nothing but contemplating what this damn life is all about. I think it’s time for a slight change in my life. I say slight, because it appears my gypsy lifestyle doesn’t scream ‘stable’ to other people. My apparent ‘issues’ from my past are more apparent than I’ve ever given myself credit for. Hurumph…

If we could all just take some time, prop up the camping chair, crack open a cold one, and leave our problems behind we may find something that has been right in front of us this whole time but we haven’t admitted it to be true. Or maybe I’m full of shit and all of this is a joke… Anyone want to take me to the looney bin?

Circumstance and perception…

My entry yesterday got cut short because of the logistics of mindless drones I like to call ‘dispatchers’ alongside the fact that the Department of Transportation dictates when we drive and where don’t. Funny caveat about hours of service rules, though we are mandated to take ten hours off before driving again, there is no rule about what we do in that time. I could stay up the entire ten hours and then drive again… For eleven more hours… I digress…

So about this question I have about being able to discover ourselves. Is it possible? I’m using the Cassini spacecraft as an example because as far as my limited research tells me, it’s the farthest scientific instrument in space that we still have full use and functionality of. I’m quite sure some physics or astronomy scholar could correct me on the details but the arguments that could come up in this question I believe are futile. And my last disclaimer for the moment, I know Cassini’s mission isn’t to try and find life outside our solar system… Just go with it.. Mmm-k?

As we look back at earth from a vantage point of say, the moon, could we determine there is intelligent life on our planet? Well, by mere matter of circumstance we could easily determine that. We could see the lights (maybe) on the night side of the earth, we may be able to see or detect satellites in orbit, or even intercept a radio wave or other non-natural emitting forces that are unique to the human race. But could we detect human beings? If this planet was still only occupied by dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, could we determine it from any distance of multiple astronomical units?

Farther out, we see a view of earth from Cassini. It looks like what we know of as a star in the sky. Using very accurate and ingenious technological instruments, we may be able to decipher wavelength properties, red or blue shifting, rotational periods, basic elements, average temperature… etc. etc. etc. But again, can we detect ourselves ignoring the bias that we obviously know we are here?

If there is another form of intelligent life in our universe (which I personally have faith that there is), how could we detect it if they don’t use wavelength based communication or refine and manufacture metals for technological advancement. Maybe this other life form realizes that fire itself may be bad for the environment. (Argue that after standing downwind from a campfire). Maybe they are smart enough to realize that the process of refining and manipulating natural resources for purposes of greed and power is destructive to their race as a whole. Maybe this other life form is in a place where there is no resource to refine such as that which we know. (Gold, coal, copper, fossil fuel, etc.). Without being able to detect things which we may relate to intelligent life, how can we tell?

Without the circumstantial evidence that we may observe of our own planet from a viewpoint outside our solar system, how could we detect the life form energy of human beings?

Wavelengths of any definition is really a property of energy acting in a certain manner. It comes across as light or radiation or even noise. In my limited study of physics and astronomy, it seems that although there are many methods to measure and determine properties and existence of energy, energy itself has yet to be defined. What if the energy that we know of isn’t the only thing in existence. What if the dark matter in which we don’t understand is made up of something completely ‘out of this world’? We can measure properties and actions of energy as we know it, but could the data we derive from the instruments we know of be anomalous to something not yet discovered?

The same energy that gives us life, also gives life to disease, despair, emotion, love, hate and everything in between. We can measure electrical impulses from the human mind to correlate specific activity to certain brain functions, but it’s like hearing static on your radio from a lightning strike and trying to determine everything about lightning from that one anomalous reading.

I was given a comment from a reader to propose this to Neil Tyson and I actually fully intend on doing so. First, I must get myself out of the middle of BFE, and second I want to propose the question in a fashion that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole. This isn’t a question to dispute or challenge the knowledge and intelligence of anyone, it’s a question to explore something I believe doesn’t get quite as much face time as it should. The answers we are looking for in so many aspect of our life are closer than we know. We have to do more than simply open our eyes…