Alastair’s Place

Software development, Cocoa, Objective-C, life. Stuff like that.

Disappointed Not to Be on a Cold Dark Hill

I’d just got everything ready to go off to Clanfield, the observatory site run by Hampshire Astronomical Group, when I found that my car won’t start. It isn’t even turning the engine over, though the battery is fine, which leads me to suspect the solenoid.

I’m rather disappointed, because this was to be my first trip there as a member (well, almost a member anyway… they need to have a meeting to consider the new applications), and I was looking forward to meeting some of the other members as well as the chance to watch my first meteor shower (the Leonid shower, which should peak early on Sunday morning according to current predictions). Though I had been wondering if there was more chance of watching a rain shower than a meteor shower (but the weather men claim it will clear up later, which doesn’t look impossible from the latest infra-red satellite images from the Met. Office).

I’ve also missed a discussion about whether or not life is sufficiently unlikely to develop that it might be a rarity, which is annoying as well. Personally, I find it extremely unlikely that there aren’t many other civilisations similar to our own; indeed, I fully expect that we’ll even find life floating in deep space, between the stars, and I don’t just mean bacteria either. The universe is so stunningly, unimaginably huge, and life is so much tougher than everyone tends to assume—as, indeed, it has developed something of a habit of proving in recent years, what with bacteria in rocks, organisms at the bottom of the sea around the oceanic vents, and yet more organisms in streams of boiling water in volcanic regions of our planet.

We even have evidence that Earth-born organisms can survive vacuum, radiation exposure, deep cold and indeed launch. So how arrogant we would be to presume that nowhere amongst the billions upon billions of stars we see shining in the night sky could there be any organism that could evolve and live under such conditions.