40 Billion Bills? 

Or: Has Cope blown his own mind?

Bill Cope

This'll give you something to think about: There are 40 billion other Earths in the Milky Way. Forty bill-ion! Just imagine what they might call groovy music up there. Or candy! Just imagine what they watch on television. Or what sort of football they're into. Or what kind of specimen they have running for president up there. Or Exalted Skoocumchuck. Or whatever they call it up there.

This 40-billion figure comes from a team of astronomers from the universities of California-Berkeley and Hawaii who have studied data from the Kepler telescope and NASA. I have read only a distillation of their findings as reported in various sources, and I should tell you, that figure is just an estimate.

I should also tell you, the study includes nothing about E.T. television or candy or whether there's intelligent life or any life at all on those planets--which, I should also also tell you, haven't actually been discovered yet. They are hypothetical planets, extrapolated from how many stars in our galaxy are (hypothetically) like our own sun, and how many rocky planets already discovered (nonhypothetical) meet the requirement of being at the right distance from their own sun to sustain (hypothetical) liquid water. (They call it the "Goldilocks Zone," as it is defined by the surface temperature of the planets. Not too hot, not too cold. Got it?)

Lucky me, I am not restricted by the rigid strictures of the scientific method, which would exclude any speculation about what kind of pie aliens eat, or who's running for Exalted Skoocumchuck on Planet Frizzalcrud. Without such adherence to stuffy procedure holding me back, I can look at the evidence I have personally gathered and project from that data my own independent conclusions.

Which are: Having personally been to one rocky planet swimming in liquid water, I have found it to be undeniably crawling with life, intelligent and otherwise. Therefore, unlike those hit-and-miss astronomers, I am batting 1,000 in my search for Earth-like planets.

Furthermore, since it is indisputable that the planet I have observed is in the Goldilocks Zone, I have no reason to doubt that many, many, many, if not all, of those 40 billion other Earths are also orbiting their suns at a respectable distance--not too far, not too close--and are watery rocks, all set up for oodles and oodles of life.

Ergo, as I have observed life everywhere I have so far looked, I have no reason to think that life in the greater universe is any harder to come by than it is in my own experience.

I kid you not, every planet I have been to absolutely stinks of life, so why should I believe that such a thing as a lifeless planet can even exist?

Lastly, there is ample proof disclosed by my probing that shows a significant portion of the total lump of life on any given planet will demonstrate some level of what we call "intelligence," be it manifest in anything from the creation of magnificent civilizations, to the more humble self-awareness shown by certain entities who realize they should wipe themselves after defecating, even if it means they scoot through the grass on their bottoms to do it.

So, based upon my own rigorous examination of everything I know, I have no qualms about leaping to the conclusion that of the 40 billion (hypothetical) Earth-ish planets in our Milky Way galaxy, every damn last one of them has followed, roughly, the same pattern of reality as here on good ol' original Earth--which means, quite obviously to me, that the great portion of all the intelligent life on all those billions of planets has come to regard themselves as "special."

Not that this self-congratulatory attitude must take exactly the same postures as it does on my test planet. Still, my exhaustive research, culled from 66 years of uninterrupted researching, has shown it is more common than not that at the exact moment in a biological phylum's evolution where it begins to call itself "intelligent," its first thought seems to be, Gee, we must be about the bestest thing what ever done come along... or something to that effect.

This auto-aggrandizement may use any number of terminologies: e.g., "special," "chosen," "exceptional," "We're Number One!" "Frizzalcrud Kicks Butt!" "The one true Mb'bishwrak," "Don't mess with Exuluqass!" or whatever conveys the same principle on the 40 billion worlds. (Not to mention the 40 billion {to-the-40-billionth power} other Earths in the 40 billion other Milky Ways.)

But I have noted that a mated pair of underlying assumptions seem to be common to all expressions of this phenomenon:

1) the conviction there is a supreme power who runs the entire universe--a Millionth-Degree Grand Master Mason, if you will, who loves us unconditionally as long as we don't piss Him off; and 2) that in virtually every society of intelligent beings on every planet I have investigated, whoever is attempting to become a leader (or attempting to stay a leader, as the case may be) is constantly invoking an alliance with this (hypothetical) supreme power as argument that he (or the occasional she) should indeed be the leader of everyone else--be it under the guise of president, premier, pope, Exalted Skoocumchuck... whatever.

You may be wondering why I've brought this up. Frankly, fellow Earthlings, I'm not sure. I can only say that I find it comforting to know: 1) that all those other Earths are (hypothetically) out there, and to think 2) that if there is indeed anything "special" about us, it has absolutely nothing at all to do with which crowd we are born into.

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