WHO knows what will be discovered on three planets 40 light years away that resemble Earth, writes Jim Duffy
When I was young, I would watch the news on our first colour TV. My dad was a keen ‘technologist’ and we were very lucky as not only did we have a colour TV, we also had a record player with a tape deck and built-in tuner. I recall thinking how posh we were as we had a music centre in our living room in Kilbirnie.
The programmes on TV were pretty good … when the test card was not on. Test card! That would be a good one for a millennials pub quiz. The news featured in a big way, along with shows like The Two Ronnies, Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game and Jon Pertwee playing Dr Who (my favourite Doctor by the way). But my all-time favourite was Star Trek. I wanted to be Captain Kirk and, in fact, if I’m being honest, I still quite fancy a shot at the job!
But I also remember watching many news bulletins on Israel and the conflict with Palestine. At that age I didn’t really understand it. Religion has played a big part in my life, and that of so many others on this planet, with both positives and negatives. My own particular religion – or at least the one I was allocated when I arrived on this earth – was quite clear. The earth was made in seven days. On the seventh day God was jiggered and he wanted a day off – and we were the only planet he ever made with human beings. Oh yeah, and me, and people like me, were the only ones heading for Heaven. I’ll say no more.
Wind the clocks forward 35 years and music centres have been replaced with live stream video, on demand websites, smartphones and tablets. I can have anything I want music-wise on Spotify for a small monthly fee and play it wirelessly on my Sonos (I wish!) in the house - or blast it using Bluetooth technology in my car. The last of the Two Ronnies – the amazing Ronnie Corbett - has just passed away and we are awash with 24-hour news. There are oodles of TV channels to choose from on smart TVs, with not a test card in sight. But, one thing has not changed: I am still hearing, watching and reading about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. I’m not going to go into the politics, and so on, of this particular conflict here, but there is no doubt it is alive and well and the ramifications ripple out around the world ... and permeate our own politics.
But, wait a minute! Did I not hear this week that planet earth may not be the only planet in this vast universe that can support life? Did I not just hear that there are indeed a gaggle of planets someplace else that look very suspiciously like our one?
Well, it appears scientists – god bless them – have discovered three planets about 40 light years away that resemble Earth and Venus (that’s 250 trillion miles using my slide rule). The boffins believe that the temperatures resemble those on earth and, in fact, all looks good for life as we know it. Captain Kirk and the crew have been dispatched to boldy go and check it out. I’m online as we speak applying for a job on the USS Enterprise ... Cook’s assistant. President Trump waved them off with the immortal and inspiring words: “You tell those suckers if they don’t pay their way, America will not play with them.” But what will Captain Kirk and co find when they arrive?
And herein lies the excitement for me. Hopefully, he will find a planet with some great technology. I bet they’ve cracked wireless technology, Bluetooth, superfast broadband and artificial intelligence. They will have cracked photo voltaic cell energy and solar power. They won’t need the French to build them nuclear power stations. I bet they will have even smarter smart phones - you know, phones that don’t become useless in 12-18 months as the battery life disappears and a new model conveniently comes out. I bet they have cars that do indeed do the mileage stated with carbon emissions that are factually accurate. I bet they don’t have places like Monaco, or Panama, where fatcat asset strippers can horde their money while those they led lose their jobs. And I hope and pray to God (er, strike that) that they do not have any formal religions. I hope this planet has human beings who do not judge themselves or others by the Temple, Mosque, Chapel or Synagogue that each other attends on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Yep, I’m excited for what is to come on planet earth over the next 35 years and I’m really excited about life beyond this planet. I’m excited to learn from them and watch them scratch their heads in bemusement at our religious wars, differentiated cultures and dysfunctional political systems. They might even do a documentary on us for their version on the BBC. Mind you, it would be a comedy…
• Jim Duffy is the Chief Executive Optimist of Entrepreneurial Spark