Thursday, December 20, 2007

Beleagured alone?

Feeling a little beleaguered today---haven’t done well in an important exam and so my academic career may well come crashing down, just when, at aged 56, it was beginning to take a rather late start. Shame really, because I’ve done some good work with academic papers and the like. I’ve enjoyed the research, especially using techniques from one discipline (medical statistics) in another (economic history). Anyway, I think of life as being just a series of gigs, a bit like some second-rate rock band constantly trying to get a booking for next week so that they can pay the garage for repairs to the old van they use to get them around. And, as Keynes so memorably said, “In the long run we’re all dead”. And, dead or not, all we are is an arrangement of electrical charges. Death is only the switching off of some of those little circuits.

But is it? If we knew that there were other life-forms somewhere else in the universe would that alter our conception of who we are, is there some sort of Creator, what happens when we die? There’s an interesting article on calculating the probability of other life-forms on the site. You can play around with the different parameters in the famous Drake Equation and see how the probability changes. I'm not sure. I think that there have been other life-forms and that there may well be future life-forms, but that doesn't mean that there are currently other life-forms somewhere out in the universe. And would they be friendly?

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