Now We Know the Truth
(C) Mike Diamond 2007
We thought that getting beyond the speed of light would be the hardest, but it was nothing compared to where we find ourselves now.
For centuries humanity had dreamt about the heavens, the stars and what lay beyond. Starting with Galileo's first observation that we weren't the center of all things, and then on through the centuries, with primitive glass lenses and then with sophisticated space telescopes, the visionaries had been scouring the heavens, probing, searching, analyzing, and dreaming that one day it would be possible to really explore, to see into the vast distances that separate us from our celestial neighbours.
First we discovered our solar system, with its sun and nine planets. Earth, the third - to us it seemed a giant - was dwarfed by Saturn and Jupiter, 500 times the size. Then we compared them to our sun, and even combined, they were a mere pimple on its massive horizon.
We found that the sun too, is just a mediocre star, sitting in a galaxy we called The Milky Way with its 400 billion stars; like a single grain of sand on a thousand mile beach. And looking beyond the Milky Way, another 500 billion galaxies littered our sky - each with hundreds of billions of stars of its own. Together, more stars and planets than you could count in a million lifetimes.
We longed to see what was out there, but were thwarted by the distance. Millions of years lay between us and our closest neighbour.
In our imaginations we explored the vastness in endless books, stories and films, always thinking of wondrous places and strange life forms. While scientists calculated distances, probabilities and vectors, space was the limitless unconquered frontier that harboured the answers to our interminable questions. Somewhere out there lay the reason for our existence, an explanation for our being. The faithful called it God; the doubters assumed that advanced civilizations knew the answers, and would explain it when we met. For without this hope, who were we?
Einstein had set the limits. Light, he said, was the only constant, and nothing could move faster. For his time, he was a genius. But truth is relative to where you stand, and by conquering light mechanics, we quickly moved on. But even beyond the speed of light, the heavens were too vast. How could we find civilizations in the trillion corners of the Universe?
So we set our sights on reproduction; a cloning craft that could reproduce and send its clone to continue the journey in another place, then recreate itself, and move forward to the next. And after decades of effort, it was done; a ship that could outstrip light ten-fold, and clone itself to continue the exploration. Before long we had millions of probes, spreading throughout the Universe, searching, calling, viewing and sniffing for a sign of life on a distant planet.
It took 300 years to complete the search.
And yesterday, when the probes had done their job, they self-destructed as they were programmed from the start. The computers spat out their findings and revealed a truth we’d always feared, but would not let ourselves believe.
We know now that Life on Earth is Life in the Universe and we, humanity - the only life form with the power to destroy it - were entrusted with its keeping.
Out there, in the never-ending vastness of the Universe, there is nothing but rock, ice and gas. Other than our little blue planet Earth, the third from our sun, there is no other life. You and me, our trees, fish, giraffes and germs, are the only living things.
Yet we still squabble over land, and beliefs, and possessions instead of preserving the unique gem of nature's creation.
And if we destroy it - as we may well do – it is we who will bear the responsibility of killing everything that ever lived.