... and I thought it was a long way down to the chemist's.
The European Southern Observatory has captured and catalogued a giant image of the centre of our galaxy that, if printed at “normal resolution”, would measure 9 x 7 meters. The nine-gigapixel image from the VISTA telescope at Paranal Observatory – this is just a Web version – has been catalogued by an international team of …
I never did think we were alone. There's simply too many galaxies, with too many stars, with too many planets to assume that ours is only one with the right ingredients to create and sustain life.
We can only hope that first contact is more in line with the Vulcans rather than the Borg.
Astronomers use FITS = Flexible Image Tape System. It typically uses 80 byte records called "card images". That alone shows its age.
We are just adapting our code to handle FITS. I would love to put our parallel code through its paces on this image (biggest we have done so far is 3.9 Gpixel).
When you consider how long life on earth has been around compared to galactic/universe time scales (difficult to find enough noughts), what are the odds that two occurances of "life" (however you wish to define it) would overlap in time, let alone space?
Pretty high - life started on Earth (and effectively the universe) pretty much as soon as was practically possible. Very broad stroke, but in terms of the universe forming and going through the various stages of element creation through the various stars up to Population I stars (like ours) and a surrounding solar system, the formation of the earth, life started pretty much (in astronomical terms) as soon as the conditions were right.
If we assume the rest of the Population I stars underwent a similar cycle (and no reason to doubt they didn't) makes it extremely likely that life would start on similar timescales across the universe.
In short, for a lot of history across the universe, life wasn't possible. And even without that, we know that life on Earth has existed for about 1/6 of the universe's life.
Stunning to know your place in the universe and how much of a nothing you really are in the grand scheme of things, maybe there's some way I can wangle that into the next pointless service call I get to reset the password of some dingbat who can't even remember a string of 9 characters for more than 5 minutes!
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