A Chapter in the Book of Existence: Part II

Colby Torbett

Space has always fascinated me. It is both exhaustingly terrifying and magnificently beautiful. Our human minds are unable to comprehend its infinite size and our instincts drive us to never stop exploring it. We send probes and satellites and men into this great unknown so that we may map and understand that which we cannot see with our naked eyes. Our planet hurdles through a vacuum entirely uninhabitable to our kind; a passive piece of existence beyond our sky which always threatens our destruction should we defy it. We know for a scientific fact that our sun, our source of life and light on this planet, will betray us someday and destroy all life on earth. Billions of years from now, when the great star enters its red giant stage and the surface of our planet becomes a sea of molten lava, human kind will have left our pale blue dot permanently. Regardless of the future of our species and where our evolutionary process or determination to search the far-reaches of space may take us, our planet will be no home to any living being. This fact reminds us that our species, all of life even, could very well be but a blip on the radar of time and space, an anomaly unfathomed since the creation of the universe over thirteen billion years ago. If our telescopes and astronauts search for a millennia, never finding another source of life in all the universe, and we are truly alone, the cessation of earth-bound life will signify a chapter in the book of existence which had it’s beginning, and its end. Our minds struggle to comprehend the idea of an existence, a vast and infinite space, without life, regardless of the fact that it is a true scientific possibility. Our survival instinct for ourselves and our species fights the submission to such an idea, regardless of the timeline placing the end further away than even our beginning. Billions of years, and we still fight even the thought.

We beg not to be forgotten by time, or to be just an anomaly of the universe. Perhaps at some point in our species’ or world’s evolutionary process we may adapt to the projection of our pending destruction and leave this galaxy behind for another. We are reminded of the infancy of science, and that our accomplishments since the conception of man will be eclipsed by thousands of generations which will follow us with better and stronger technology each year. We are optimistic that future human beings may find ways to ensure the survival of mankind, but we are certain no conceivable technology will stop the collapse of our sun or the destruction of our home. If mankind is to survive past the expiration date of our refuge from the cruelty of space, our earth, we must enter the unknown and search for a future elsewhere. It is easy to suggest that a responsibility for our survival must rest solely upon the shoulders of generations whom face this looming destruction. As we exist right now, everything we do and say and write will be forgotten by time. Billions of years from now, when we stand upon the precipice of our planet’s annihilation, we will not draw upon the teachings or words of men and women from our lifetimes for guidance into the future or the darkness. It will be the actions and words of those whom will not be born for over a billion years. So we ask ourselves then why we should be concerned for an issue so distant from the grasp of our control or scope of comprehension. How can we contribute to a dilemma as far away as the conception of life and further? What even can we do, outmatched by time and technology which will not exist for a millennia, to aid in the preservation of life? The answer is far simpler than the technology which it will require, or the passion that will be needed to fuel it. Our solution does not require that we venture out into that great unknown and defy the nature of space, or that we begin the construction of great ships to carry us into the darkness beyond the reaches of the sun’s violent end. We can keep this planet alive for the next generation, and try to ensure that we pass-on the reasonableness and responsibility which led us to do so onto them, so that they may continue to pass it into the future.

The world has an expiration date. Our species may have one too. But it does not exist within our lifetimes or our children’s. It does not exist for billions of years. The responsibility we carry is to preserve it through our lives, so that if technology or our universe does not permit us to leave this paradise among the harshness of space, we may still exist until the very end and live upon a habitable planet to give our last fight for survival on. Space is a frontier, studied and explored harder and further each day. It is cruel and beautiful, simultaneously beckoning us to explore it while threatening to destroy us every step of the way. Men and women in the field of science push the boundaries of interstellar exploration and travel for our great human instinct of curiosity. Their expeditions into the great unknown may find our solution to the inevitable end of earth and mankind within our lifetimes, but if the cosmos are searched and the technology is built and we are truly the anomaly we exist as now, we will have to work to preserve life, so that billions of years from now, at the end, there is still life to preserve.

Colby Torbett

Colby Torbett is a Criminology major and a Senior at UNCW, currently enjoying his fourth semester at the University. Before becoming a Seahawk, Torbett obtained his Associates Degree in Arts at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College.

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