The disappearance of the Earth could rid the galaxy of its meaning, warns Brian Cox before Cop26

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Humans might be the only intelligent beings in our galaxy, so destroying our civilization could be a galactic disaster, Professor Brian Cox warned leaders ahead of Cop26.

Speaking at the launch of his new BBC Two Universe series, the physicist and presenter said that after speaking to scientists around the world who were advising the show, he believed humans and sentient life on Earth “could be a remarkable and natural phenomenon ”and it was something that“ world leaders might need to know ”.

In Universe, Cox explores the idea of ​​the so-called “golden loops” theory, which suggests the location of our planet in relation to the Sun and the unique events over billions of years that created Earth the made it “right” for meaningful life to flourish. and evolve.

“What we’ve discovered – I think that’s a reasonable working hypothesis – is that there are very few civilizations per galaxy,” Cox said.

When asked how important this finding is to politicians facing the climate crisis, Cox said, “I think sometimes that perspective is necessary.

“I would say that if our civilization does not persist, for whatever reason, and whether it is an external event or our own action, nuclear war, whatever we decide to inflict on ourselves, it is possible that whoever presses this button will eliminate the sense in a galaxy forever.

“And I think that’s something I think world leaders might need to know. It could actually be quite an important act.

He continued, “The more I learn about biology … the more amazed I am that we exist,” adding that even though astronomers say there are about 20 billion Earth-like planets in the Galaxy of the Way Milky, “So we might expect life to be everywhere,” “almost every biologist I talk to says,” Yeah, but it’ll just be mud at best. We live in a violent universe and the idea that you can have planets stable enough to have an unbroken chain of life could be quite restrictive.

Cox said there were very few places “where atoms can think … Sense exists in our minds,” so Earth’s demise could wipe out meaning.

“If you accept that meaning is something that emerges from sufficiently complex biological machines, then the only place these machines could exist is here; so it’s fair to say that if this planet wasn’t there, we would be living in a galaxy without meaning. It’s different from life. There is a difference between life and intelligent life.

He also said there was an idea called the “big filter,” which suggested that “civilizations don’t have long lives. It may be that the challenges of industrializing a civilization are too great and our wisdom is lagging behind our knowledge or capabilities, and we may not be able to manage this transition to a space civilization. .

” The weather is [also] a challenge… civilizations face many challenges as they acquire knowledge and skills and there may well be a natural lifespan for civilizations.

In Universe, Cox – who was part of D: Ream, who created the optimistic hymn Things Can Only Get Better – explains how the stars are not immortal and that one day the universe will return to darkness.

He said some of his ad-libs during Universe were more philosophical and “religious than I had expected” than in his previous series, and that was because he wanted to explore why we care about the stars and the sky. role they played in the creation of life.

In the first episode, he calls the stars “mortal gods” and, looking at a sunrise, says, “If you are looking for gods, you don’t need to look any further because these are the real things.

About 1 billion people around the world have viewed The Planets, and Universe will also be shown worldwide. Most of this series was filmed in the UK due to the lockdown, which Cox says made it look different from his previous shows.

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