Most people tend to think we are not alone in the Universe, that with all those billions of stars and even more planets and moons that there must be other intelligent life out there that we just haven't discovered yet.
But what if that's not true. Imagine for a moment that it may be just us as the galaxy's ONLY intelligent species, with other planet perhaps only ever supporting single celled organisms. I find it a daunting thought, but not impossible or even improbable.
Recently a British scientist named Brian Cox suggested that is actually the case:
He said: "There is only one advanced technological civilization in this galaxy and there has only ever been one - and that's us," Professor Cox said. "We are unique."
"It's a dizzying thought. There are billions of planets out there, surely there must have been a second genesis?
"But we must be careful because the story of life on this planet shows that the transition from single-celled life to complex life may not have been inevitable."
And it's that last sentence that got me thinking. I've always believe that there is other life out there, and Professor Cox could agree, but he's saying that life never gets past the single cellular stage (except for us). And I simply don't have the information available to gauge the probability of multi-cellular organism arising.
What we do know for certain is that simple life (replicative molecules) formed on this planet very quickly, just as soon as the rocks had cooled enough for water to form. And I believe it probably forms almost everywhere very quickly wherever liquid water is present. We also know it took about 2 billion years after that for multi-cellular organism to arise.
I had always assumed that the rise to multi-cellularity was inevitable (or close to it), but what if that's not correct at all. I find hard to imagine any forms of intelligence which are limited to single cellularity, so if multi-cellularity is a critical precursor to the rise of intelligence, and if multi-cellularity is the rarest of flukes.... then the Universe may be just as empty as our present experience seems to indicate.
How does it make you feel, being the only intelligent species anywhere?
“Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
A link to the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2809183/We-universe-Professor-Brian-Cox-says-alien-life-impossible-humanity-unique.html