We are not alone.

Pure science would say that since there is no evidence of life beyond our own planet, one can neither assume nor rule out life elsewhere.

Our place in the universe. Click to make massive.

Yet a mind open to surprises looks at the above schematic, factors in the existence of 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars (that’s 70,000 million million million) in the known universe, and that’s as of 2003, and wonders what kind of hubris allows for this incomprehensible vastness and beauty to exist solely to amuse us? As of 2012, Wikipedia reports, “Data from the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC) suggests that, of the 725 exoplanets which have been confirmed as of 14 January 2012, four potentially habitable planets have been found, and the same source predicts that there may be 27 habitable extrasolar moons around confirmed planets.”

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field image was taken of an area of the sky just a tad over 3 arcminutes across. That’s smaller than a 1 mm by 1 mm square of paper held at 1 meter away, and equal to roughly one thirteen-millionth of the total area of the sky; with the exception of one or two local stars in our neighborhood, every pinprick of light in this image is a galaxy. Every single spot. Add to that the fact that galactic scale is unfathomable; despite the existence of hundreds of billions of stars in a single cluster, when our own celestial home collides with its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, no two stars will ever come close enough to collide. (Watch the video at the link, it’s elegant.)

Using the Drake equation to estimate the number of civilizations with whom we might have communication is an exercise in futility, simply because none of the terms are or can be known, but I don’t need higher math to look out into such mind-bending vastness and see a result higher than zero. For me, life out there is inevitable.

No, I can’t get my head around the idea that we’re the only thing out here, or the best, or the brightest. Unless someone figures out how to void the laws of the universe, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know, but that doesn’t dampen my certainty: we’re not alone.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

More doctors smoke Camels™

Back in the day, not only doctors but babies, sports figures and Santa Claus would hawk tobacco products. My mother did Camel commercials, and I remember that for a while she would regularly receive a carton of Camels in the mail from the sponsor as part of her compensation. Small wonder I took up the habit when I went away to prep school – back in the day, it was still considered the cool thing to do. And, as I had no other claim to fame and fortune, I developed the knack of finding the nastiest, strongest brands I could – Gauloises, Players, English Ovals, and some Turkish abomination or other come immediately to mind. By 1969,  when I finally quit, I was smoking 3 packs a day of unfiltered anything; when I’d cadge cigarettes from my mother, who smoked Carltons (what an abomination they were), I’d have to rip the filters off.

Despite a sea change in conventional wisdom, today roughly 1 in 6 people still use tobacco worldwide; in the USA, 20% of adults still used tobacco as of 2010. Big tobacco and those who took payoffs to promote this deadly product shoulder a large part of the responsibility.

If you smoke, quit now. It will kill you.

The Old Wolf has smoken.

Great Shoals Lighthouse, 1952

The Great Shoals Lighthouse in Maryland was constructed in 1884 and dismantled in 1966. It was a screw-pile lighthouse, a lighthouse which stands on piles that are screwed into sandy or muddy sea or river bottoms. From the photo, the frame barely looks strong enough to support the weight of the structure let alone the force of wind and water, and yet it endured for over 80 years.

I love the outhouse hanging over the edge, reminiscent of certain medieval castles. Gardy loo!

Found at Frog Blog

The Old Wolf has spoken.