Earth is the planet that we live on. But not many people realize that the fact that we live on planet Earth and not on any other planet has fundamentally and totally shaped us.
Earth is the planet that we live on. We are Earthlings. That is so obvious and well-known that we hardly ever think about it.
There are billions of galaxies in our universe, each with billions of stars, each with on average at least one planet. That’s a lot of planets. And probably there are billions and billions of other universes in space. Uncountable number of planets.
And no two planets are exactly equal. Probably many are very different from each other. And this has an interesting consequence. Living beings on a planet are shaped in high degree according to the circumstances on their planet.
Our planet shaped us. We are Earthlings
For example, there are planets where the atmosphere contains gases different from (about) 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen, like Earth. Most living beings on Earth breathe oxygen to live. It could well be that living creatures from another planet evolved breathing, let’s say, methane. Because the athmosphere of that planet contains a lot of methane. Or maybe, they don’t breathe at all. Maybe they get their energy directly from the light or other radiation of their star. So, those living beings could not even live on Earth.
And we could not live on that specific planet.
Gravity is another interesting example. The (gravitational) force by which we are pulled towards the Earth – that is, our weight – is determined by the mass of our planet. On the Moon, for instance, we weigh about one sixth of what we weigh on Earth. In other words, if you weigh 60 kg on Earth, you would weigh 10 kg on the Moon. This has profound consequences. Just ask yourself: how big could be the biggest living being on Earth be. The limit would be determined by it’s weight. As off a certain weight, the animal could simply not carry itself anymore and would collapse. There is a reason why the biggest animal on Earth – the blue whale – lives in the ocean!
So, on a smaller planet, we could possibly grow much bigger. And on a much bigger planet, we would be much smaller, probably. Very interesting. For instance, on Mars a 60 kg Earthling would only weigh 23 kg. And now it gets interesting. If we imaging Martians, we always think of green (don’t know why) quiet small living beings. In reality, if Martians would exist (they probably don’t), then they might very well be much bigger than we are. Maybe much more like the three meter tall imaginary Na’vi people of the imaginary Pandora planet of the 2009 Avatar movie.
Now, these are just two examples, but there are many, many more.
Our collective self-image
It makes me think of a point that I have made in earlier stories. That is the way how our collective self-image, the way we see ourselves, has changed over the ages, and likely will change even more in the future. The general trend is that we started to put ourselves in the middle of, well, everything, the universe. We very much started with ourselves as the starting point. The first big crack clearly was Copernicus stating that the earth circles around the sun, hence our planet was not the center of the universe. Darwin was a big one, saying that we are merely the best fitting survivor of a statistical game of genetic deviations, called evolution. Etcetera.
Maybe, in the future we will discover that there are unearthly aliens, living creatures on planets, exoplanets or their moons who are completely, unimaginably different from us, possibly with intelligence types that are completely different from ours. So different, that we do not even recognize them as living creatures. And maybe sooner than that, we will create a – still earthly – superhuman family, race, subspecies or species that is totally different from the current version of Homo Sapiens.
Our cosy rabbit hole
Anyway. Coming back to my point, we should be aware how much our entire being is determined by the planet where we live. We are Earthlings.
And there is only one Earth (probably) … our cosy rabbit hole. Makes you wonder what types of totally different other living beings there probably are in the universe. Mind boggling …