Einstein told us time was relative. To us, an hour stuck at your desk at work can feel like a life time, or your day out at Disneyland will be over in a flash. All we humans deal in are hours, days, weeks and years. It's not often we think about what's going to happen in a billion years. Our brains simply can't comprehend those numbers. So how can we imagine something that happened 13 billion years ago? Let's start with a timeline.
This timeline is still in development, if you wish to contribute we would love to hear from you!
Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.
The Time Trek
So now that we know what happened, now we need to relate it to something we do deal with everyday day. Distance. With the aim to help you visualize the span of time since the formation of our Universe, I introduce the Time Trek. Its 13.7km trail corresponds to the age of the Universe, and includes the History of Earth and Life. Combining astronomical, physical, geological and biological time lines the Time Trek presents a complete view of the history of time itself. By walking along this trek you will experience the flow of time in a very physical way, and by the end, when you see that after your 13.7km trek you come accross human history, and it is over in a single step it will really put things into perspective!
1km = 1 Billion years, 1m = 1 Million years, 1cm = 10 Thousand years, 1mm = 1 Thousand years.
Want to get involved and help shape a Time Trek for Australia? We are currently on the lookout for partners who want to get involved behind the scenes, and students and researchers who wish to share thier expertise, and offer advice on the science we are presenting. We don't just want this to be a fun run, we want to create something truley special, do you want to be part of it?
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The Drake Equation Calculator
Now you have a greater grasp of the massive timescale involved when discussing the Universe, and see that the Milky Way, Earth and everything we hold dear is a mear blip on this cosmological timeline. Is it so unbeleive that life, somewhere, at sometime existed other than us? Well your not the first person to think about this. The Drake equations is a way to estimate how many technological civilizations might be listening right now.
So where is everybody?
The Fermi Paradox
At even conservative estimates, the Galaxy should be teeming with life. the Fermi Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations. Fermi's basic argument were:
We should not have been here first!
The Sun is a young star. However there are billions of stars in the galaxy that are billions of years older
Planets are everywhere!
Some of these stars likely have Earth-like planets which, if the Earth is typical, may develop intelligent life
We are learning travel, why aren't they?
Presumably, some of these civilizations will develop interstellar travel, & at any practical pace of interstellar travel, the galaxy could be completely colonized in a few tens of millions of years.
And yet, where is everybody?
If you ask 10 different scientists why they think we haven't detected aliens you are likely to receive 10 different answers. Everything at this point is just speculation. Perhaps we are the fisrt intelligent species and we will be the ones that colonize the galaxy! Perhaps we were visted in our distant past but before hunmans existed. Afterall our entire existance can be represented by a mear 20cm on our Time Trek. They might have just missed us cosmologically speaking? Perhaps the Glaxay is colonized, and species communicate and share culture and ideas, and we are just living in a rural district nobody bothers to visit. We are pretty far out on one of the spiral arms of the Milky way.
Perhaps we will never know, but that shouldn't stop us from searching, thanks to institutions like S.E.T.I we are beginging our cross generational mission to find a answer.