But Space is not the only horizon along which our thought must be directed. There is also the horizon of Time. Every world must have its Past and its Future, as well as its Present. For some worlds the conditions are so fixed that, like Jupiter and Saturn, they are not now worlds that can be dwelt in, they never were in that condition, and they never can be. Their enormous mass forbids it. Mercury and the Moon at the other end of the planetary scale are also permanently disabled. Their insignificant size excludes them.
There was also a time when the Earth was not a world of habitation. It was without form and void. Hot and vaporous, even as the four outer planets are now. Now it is inhabited, but there may come a time when this phase of its history has run its course. And either from a falling off in the tribute of light and heat rendered to it by the Sun, or from the gradual desiccation of the surface, or, perchance, from the slow loss of its atmosphere, it may approach the condition of Mars. And in its turn be no longer an abode of life...
We find, then, in this universe so far as we can know it, that Space is lavishly provided. Matter is lavishly scattered. Time is unsparingly drawn upon. But Life in any form, and especially in its highest form, is, relatively speaking, very sparsely given. That very circumstance surely points to the overwhelming importance of conscious, intelligent Life, and the insignificance of lifeless matter in comparison with it.
The plea is often made that as we find life adapting itself to a great variety of conditions on this Earth, we must not set limits to its power of adaption to the conditions of other worlds. But this plea is an unthinking one. The range of conditions through which we find life on this Earth is as nothing to the range given by the varied sizes and positions of the different planets. And even on our Earth, life in the unfavoured regions, the tops of mountains, the polar snows, the waterless deserts, the ocean depths, is only possible because there are more favoured regions close at hand, and there are, as it were, crumbs that fall from the rich man's table...
Another plea for vague sentiment in this matter is that we cannot expect that intelligent beings on other worlds would have the same form as man, and if not the same form, then, that the same conditions of existence would not hold good for them as for us. Both contentions are unsound.
Protoplasm is the physical basis of all the life that we know, whatever its form, though these forms are to be counted by the million and are as diverse as they are numerous. And everywhere and always, water is found essential to protoplasmic life. Of life of any other kind we do not know any examples. We have no instance. If such exist, then they are beyond our ken... from Are the Planets Inhabited by E. Walter Maunder (1913 PD)
from Null Times in Zér0ville (2021),
released October 2, 2021
All instruments by Rich La Bonté. Electronic music composed, programmed and edited by Rich La Bonté.
Rich La Bonté (1946) - American musician. 9 Bandcamp LPs. Released the seminal electronic Mayan Canals LP and co-wrote Kim
Fowley's Son of Frankenstein (1980s). Lead singer of the upstate New York band the huns (1965-66). Played bass and sang in the original NY and LA casts of Godspell (1971-4). Mozart in "Mozart In Love" (Dir: Mark Rappaport 1975). More info - free MP3s & stuff on his website!...more