Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Life Fantastic

The universe that we live in is a pretty amazing place, with one of the most mind boggling things for me being the existance of life itself. It´s hard when looking around at the place we live in not to be blown away by the variety of life, and the different forms it takes.

The wonder of this all also comes from an a believed understanding of how stuff works. Now, as you´ve probably been taught in school, all stuff, all matter, consists of energy in various arrangements and combinations. Now the improbability of there existing a universe capable of supporting life aside, there are a few things that I find pretty amazing about life.

Number one, that out of the energy from which the universe grew, matter formed.
Fairly important, because as I see it, it had no real reason to form or change into anything, let alone anything solid. There exists a number of "laws" which made this formation of matter possible, but why and how these laws exist are a pretty big mystery to me (Unless any physics geeks out there can explain it to me).

That a habitat came to be that was capable of supporting life, and on that planet grew matter capable of reproducing itself.
Again fairly improbable, but a bit less amazing. Considering the sheer number of planets in the universe I guess there was bound to be one with all the right conditions needed to allow life to develop. Still, what is amazing if you´ve followed the progression so far, is that you have all this energy, some of which has coalesced into matter, and which due to the right conditions has developed the ability to reproduce itself.

That through random mutation this matter grew into more and more complicated forms.
This matter reproduced, it evolved, it grew more complicated. From a simple origins it started to develop numbers of competing variants, some of which with multiple cells. Many different forms of life developed, competed and filled their own niches.

That this increasingly complex reproducing matter. This life. Evolved to the stage where it was capable of perceiving it´s enviroment in a greater way.
Grown from a small seed, life is now able to perceive it´s enviroment. It´s able to see and touch and smell and taste. Matter, life, has matured greatly and moved an inconceivable distance from it´s simple origins.

That this matter became self aware and became capable of of exploring and investigating it´s own enviroment.
This is the truly amazing part, though if you follow the whole process not really amazing at all. Intelligence being a survival advantage, and organisms getting increasingly more and more intelligent, there finally arose something that was aware of itself as thinking, talking matter. Something capable of delving into the mysteries surrounding it´s origins and capable of changing their selves and their enviroment in a very large scale way. This is the stage we have reached at the moment. Self aware creatures living in a inconceivably large, amazing universe.

So when you look at a tree, what you are really seeing is a mass of energy, arranged in such a way that it consumes nutrients from the soil from which it sprouts, and energy from the sun. A form of life that has made a journey of millions of years to reach the point it has now, and should it be allowed to continue, a journey of millions of years more. Life is matter, given mobility, form and motive force. Life is matter which is able to perceive itself, to perceive other matter. Energy coallesed into form, form given senses. A rock that has grown eyes, able to look around it´s home and wonder at the beauty of it all.

I don´t know if there is a God, and advocates of religious doctrine seem to be quite against the idea of evolution as it competes with their own stories of creation. I however think, that if there is a God, then he is indeed a genius, for I can think of no method greater, no solution to the creation of life more elegant, than to allow life to evolve and develop itself. A system, where life grows to fill and suit it´s enviroment without requiring any design what so ever. Where these life forms adapt to suit any changes in the enviroment without requiring any maintenance or redesign what so ever. And lastly, should the organism prove worthy enough and not be eliminated due to changes in it´s enviroment, competition with other forms of life, or it´s own stupidity, eventually leave it´s limited enviroment to explore the greater universe and all the wonders that it may hold.

So when you take a look at anything, be it a tree, a rock, an animal or a person. Take a moment to realize what an amazing thing you are looking at, and wonder at the fact that you´re able to look at it at all.

Edit:
On a bit of a side note I am now in CarriĆ³n de los Condes, 371km down the Camino de Santiago. For an idea of where I am now, and where I´m going you can check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_French_Way, which shows some of the main cities that I will be passing through during the next few weeks. Be sure though, that I will be in no way keeping up with this schedule as I am way to lazy to complete the camino in the time or way indicated. I think I´m actually over a week behind what is indicated due to me slowing down, stopping and at one stage, walking 2 days backwards down the pilgrims route to get back to an interesting place I passed along the way.

Anyway, until next time, Chow.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Everything around us is amazing, which is why I love photography so much. You get to capture things that people often don't think twice about, and show them how you perceive the world around you.

Nature, the elements, people.

One thing that I always find intriguing is space, all you have to do is step outside at night and see the millions of stars projecting their light, and wonder how the hell our planet happened.