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Thursday, November 03, 2016

S.E.T.I: How far are we from the truth?


When I first entered college, I was a nervous wreck. I never knew what I wanted to be and just picked out courses I thought I could handle. Not only that, I had an older friend for an adviser. One of his advices was to take Political Law 2 and Philosophy 2 with him so that we could be together. This proved to be a major miscalculation on my part. These courses, by their very nomenclature are what we call pre-requisite courses. What this means is that one has to take an earlier course before them.  And, of course, Political Law and Philosophy are subjects not to be taken lightly. Naturally, I failed those classes. Fortunately enough, I finally realized what I wanted to be and shifted to the course I really wanted – Fine Arts.  These subjects were not offered in this course.  However, those two failures left me scarred and I did not want that.  So, later on in my life, I took it upon myself to study them on my own. At least have a feel for them.  While I took up Law which amounted to nothing for I did not complete it, I read and read books and articles that would introduce me to Philosophy. I have already began with the lighter stuff like Ayn Rand, Richard Bach, Antoine de St. Exupery and other literary novels which somehow led to Philosophy. Of course, there was Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World which could be a Philosophy for idiots of some sort. After those, I proceeded to heavier stuff like introduction to Philosophy, Rene Descartes, etc. 
Fast forward to today, my friend and co-teacher, Rory Cortel, was often the source of articles especially now that he is taking his Master’s in Philosophy and has successfully read his paper in Australia and Beijing where he read another of his theories on the mind-body problem. One of the articles he shared with me is Terrestrial Planets Across Space and Time by Erik Zackrisson, Per Calissendoff, Juan Gonzalez, Andrew Benson, Anders Johansen and Markus Janson.  This article is highly scientific and very hard to understand. However, I managed to get the whole point – that with the use of powerful technological instruments like transit photometry and radial velocity measurements have, in recent years, allowed the detection and characterization of large numbers of exoplanets in the same size and mass range as Earth. What this means is that there are planets in the universe that closely resembles earth, and its surroundings like galaxy formations. By the comsomologists’ calculations, and according to Joseph Schmitt, there are about 1600 to 2100 confirmed exosplanets in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, alone Using what they term as a recipe for their cosmic inventory to assess whether a planet is an exosplanet are the materials from which a planet is formed. Highest on the list are those heavier than hydrogen and helium.  There are about billions of other galaxies and naturally, there are millions of planets that are similar in condition as the earth’s.  However, in all these observations, not a single planet has been found to support life.  For example, there are planets that are much older than ours which if it had life, then their inhabitants must be much more highly developed than ours.  And yet, none of this has emerged.

This is what my take is, based on the article.  I start with the Copernican principle of a heliocentric universe which it tries to debunk.  According to this principle, neither the sun nor the stars are in a central, specially favored position in the universe, much equivalent to the mediocrity principle meaning that man is not a privileged observer of the universe. This stance gives us the notion that with the vastness of the universe comprised with numerous galaxies, it can be possible that there are planets with very much earth like qualities and based on the Darwinian principle, could have spawn life just like earth. In the article, it provided evidence that there are such galaxies based on the computations and that there are indeed planets that are similar to earth.  Now, debunking the Copernican principle, data have shown that life do not exist in these earthlike planets. What do I get out of this article? That if all variables are the same and yet does not contain life as it should have, therefore, there is only one variable left and that is the existence of a Supreme Being, a God, who created all this and placed us here on earth.  This is taken based on our, hitherto, limited knowledge.

I shall use David Hume when he said, No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion. Ergo, even if the data gathered to date do say that there are no other life forms in the universe, it is still possible that this has not been discovered yet and that just one evidence will prove the contrary. 



Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.

Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
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Location: Bambang, Pasig City, Philippines

Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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