Thursday, August 25, 2011

What if the universe were very small?

Say, the size of our solar system. What would life be like then?
- almost no chance of ever finding life on other planets
- we'd have to take better care of the earth I guess; even if we colonize the moon and Mars, that's only another 0.35 earths worth of surface area. We'd run out of rocks to live on, and soon.
- things wouldn't seem so boundless. You wouldn't get to look into the night sky and pretend you're going to visit all those stars, like Han Solo.
- speaking of which: would we still have sci-fi with many different star systems? or would that idea just be inconceivable, or hard to visualize, kind of like sci-fi over many different universes is now?

What if the Earth were the only planet? We'd be done: all the space on the planet would be all the space there is! There would be no more anything! How would that affect the way we think?

Don't worry, I'm not trying to make a point here. Just try thinking as if that were true for a minute; it feels weirder than I would have thought.


Julia said...

My sister, who as an astrophysicist pursing a PhD that has something to do with exoplanets would probably be out of the job.

Also, she would tell you it probably wouldn't make much of a difference to us at this moment, considering that all of the potentially habitable planets they are studying are so far away that there is no hope of sending a manned mission to them any time soon. We may as well assume that Earth is pretty much all we got.

yincrash said...

i'm sort of thinking about it in sid meier's civ tech.
seafaring would have taken much longer to come about without star maps. many religions would be nonexistent or totally different without constellations.

Dan Tasse said...

Sure sure. I don't see us going to other planets soon, if ever. But their existence shapes our outlook.

The practical changes like ship navigation are interesting. Also, what if it were totally pitch black at night? Maybe we'd have developed better hearing or infrared vision or something.

But yeah, the religious implications are the coolest, I think. And the implications for general thought- it's like how you can be more creative in a room with a high ceiling. Are we more creative than we would be if our universe had a low ceiling?

Dan Tasse said...

Not really related but also cool: what if the earth were a cube?