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A Magic Planet


A magic planet? Yep! Where? Right here on planet earth.

First, let's dispense with the notion that our planet, the solar system, the whole frigging universe, was miraculously created in seven days...make that six days; the magician rested on the seventh day. As inviting as that legend might be, it's much more complicated.

Yes, our planet appears to be magical. So far, we've found nothing even remotely like earth anywhere in our solar system and, as near as we can tell, anywhere else in the universe. I think that will only last for a while. There will be some fantastic planets elsewhere in the universe; if humans can survive our stupidity, we'll find and explore them.

Will they be like earth? They may have some similarities but will most likely differ dramatically from our planet. Will there be life like ours on those planets? Again, I doubt it, but there will be some life. Why do I think all this?

Let's look at planet earth; it is believed that the Earth formed about 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula. Three-quarters of the life that has existed on our planet are now extinct. By the time our world was four billion years old, the rise of large plants and animals was beginning. Sixty-five million years ago, a catastrophic asteroid strike wiped out not only the dinosaurs but practically every animal weighing over 25 kg (except leatherback sea turtles and some crocodiles). Humans appeared less than 1 million years ago. 

If an advanced civilization had visited here during the first 4.5 billion years of Earth's existence (did they?), they would have found dinosaurs and a planet that struggled to support life as we know it today. There would have been no life as we know it today, no humans, and none of the beauty that we revel in today. Given the billions of stars and planets of varying ages and degrees of evolution in each galaxy, solar system, and individual planet, what are the odds that we'll find any life, let alone anything that resembles humans? Our timing would have to be perfect.

Our planet is truly magical in supporting human life, but it has only been that way for .0002 % of the planet's life. Will we still be around in another million years? At the rate we seem to be destroying the evolution that made it possible for us to emerge, one has to wonder. How many more natural extinctions might our planet see? Extinctions have been a natural part of the planet's evolutionary history. 99% of the four billion species that have evolved on Earth are gone. Most species have gone extinct.

We will push forward on our explorations of our universe, and there will be amazing discoveries along the way, but the odds of finding another magic planet would seem slim, and none in my book.