Pre-Webb, We estimated there were hundreds of billions of visible galaxies out there, with each galaxy being made of hundreds of billions of stars and possibly trillions of wet rocks like our little planet earth here. To put such mind-boggling numbers into context: If we named planets after each of the 7 billion living humans today, you and me would each get several trillion solar systems bearing our name. Thousands of galaxies per person.
Since those numbers are still incomprehensible, more context: If we could magically teleport to each of the solar systems bearing our names, and spend the day looking at each planet for an hour or two, we would die of old age after about 30,000 solar systems, which can be rounded down to 0 compared to the amount of planets we would leave ‘hanging’.
To finish exploring, we would need to somehow live around a billion human lifetimes. All of humanity’s existence is about 40000 lifetimes, put end to end. So we would need to live one million times more than the entire species has lived to have a superficial knowledge of the entire universe. To remember them all, our brain would need Billions of times more memory cells than an average human has. In other words, it would require the entire planet’s human brains to all merge into a mega-brain to remember our space adventures.
If the odds of winning the powerball jackpot are almost 1 in 300 million, then the probability of humans being the only intelligent species is roughly equivalent to winning all of the world’s lotteries on the same day. It appears the Webb telescope’s more detailed picture is showing these already staggering numbers were under-counts by at least one order of magnitude, maybe more. Stable galaxies, now seen in infrared, formed significantly earlier than expected.
I should note there is an upward trend in the numbers of galaxies every time we look with a bigger, better, sharper or infra-redder telescope. Maybe we’re still underestimating the number of galaxies out theres. So, taking all of this into account:
Can we finally agree that, not only is it logical to believe there are probably billions of different species that have evolved and will evolve long after we are dead, but to think we are alone in the universe is utterly kooky?