Year of Living the Community: Week 43

ALIEN BELONGING

posting by Jana

 This image shows M81 (bottom right) and M82 (upper left), a pair of nearby galaxies where “intergalactic transfer” may be happening. Gas ejected by supernova explosions in M82 can travel through space and eventually contribute to the growth of M81. Photograph: Fred Herrmann, 2014

This image shows M81 (bottom right) and M82 (upper left), a pair of nearby galaxies where “intergalactic transfer” may be happening. Gas ejected by supernova explosions in M82 can travel through space and eventually contribute to the growth of M81. Photograph: Fred Herrmann, 2014

Intriguing cosmic news this week about the latest 'we're all made of stardust' theories: 'Nearly half of the atoms that make up our bodies may have formed beyond the Milky Way and travelled to the solar system on intergalactic winds driven by giant exploding stars, astronomers claim.'
(I love the way this article in the Guardian casts a shade of allegation on this finding, as if astronomers were sitting around in a pub chatting and said to one another, 'Let's randomly speculate out loud about the nature of the universe. That's fun.')

The modelling for this new theory is mind-blowing.

Science is very useful for finding our place in the universe. In some sense we are extragalactic visitors or immigrants in what we think of as our galaxy.
— Daniel Anglés-Alcázar, astronomer

I'm still getting my head around this - but I love the spiral coalescence as the galaxy forms. And I find this summary from one of the astronomers intriguing. 

 

This whole experiment of the Community of the Cosmic Person is an exercise in exploring the usefulness of science 'for finding out place in the universe.' First science tells us we belong to the universe - all the atomic elements that make up all matter in the universe, including the matter of us, comes into being via the process of exploding stars. Now science tells us that we're all immigrants in our own galaxy. Cool. 

There is a classical debate in philosophy and ethics about whether or not it is possible to draw an 'ought' from an 'is.' In other words, does physical reality really tell us anything about metaphysical meaning? The pitfalls of drawing direct links from science to ideology are obvious: all reality is interpretation and conclusions can always be drawn to suit power and politics. But what if they also unlock potential, especially potential for a better way to love the earth? And one another? What gaps are spanned by the notion that the alien in you is the alien in me and that, once again, we are confirmed in our intuition that we really are all in this together.