My recent post about how aliens, when they do visit us, probably won’t look anything like us, got me thinking about us visiting them. By the time we got there, we wouldn’t look like us either. Not to mention it would be impossible for humans to colonize the galaxy anyway.
Let’s first start with why we wouldn’t look like us. First of all, by the time we found an inhabited planet to visit, developed the technology to travel there, and actually got there, we would look nothing like we do right now. As stated in my previous post, small changes in the appearance of a species occur over time, and these changes are constantly occurring. So by the time that all of that happened, we’d look a lot different than we do today. Of course, future humans will still resemble present humans, but they’ll look different. Got it? Good.
Now, during the time it would take to actually travel from Earth to another planet¹, these same small changes will be happening differently to the humans left on Earth, and the humans aboard the space craft. So, when the adventurous humans reached their destination, they would look significantly different than the humans on Earth at the same time.
That being said, if aliens did visit us, they probably wouldn’t look exactly like those who presently inhabit their home planet.
To summarize, if interstellar space travel actually did occur, the humans who reached the new solar system wouldn’t look the same as the humans still in our own solar system.
Okay, so why can’t we colonize the rest of the galaxy? Well, I’ve already partially answered that. In order to colonize anything, you need to send a group of people to a new place to spread an already established culture, including the language, and government. But, we know that both language and government can change pretty drastically over time. Think about the last time you read Shakespeare, or were forced to by your high school English teacher. The language was pretty different. Think about the differences in the language that you, your parents, and your children speak. They’re a little closer, but still pretty different. Now think about how government changes. New laws come, and old laws go. It’s a slow process, but when you compare the current government with the government we had fifty years ago, wow.
So, back to colonizing the galaxy. As previously stated, the people on the space craft would look a lot different than the people on Earth, but they would also have a very different culture. They would have probably established their own government, and the language would slowly change as they lost contact with the people on Earth. It would be a very different culture of people.
That’s why we can’t colonize the galaxy. It would be physically impossible to have the same species on multiple planets. It would take hundreds, thousands, hundreds or thousands of years to even travel through the galaxy².
Now if you think ‘that’s not too bad, we can do it! Let’s colonize the universe!’ Well, all I can say is, good luck. There are about 100 billion galaxies in the known universe, and we aren’t even the smallest one, some of these galaxies have trillions of stars in them³.
What I’m saying is the universe, and even our own galaxy, is way too big for us to be able to colonize. And as for visiting other planets outside our solar system, it’s unlikely at best.
¹ While it wouldn’t take very long to travel to a planet in our own solar system (maybe a decade or less), interstellar travel would take a long time. The closest star, aside from our own, is just over four light years away. So, if we could travel at the speed of light, which we can’t, it would take over four years to get there. At the current rate of our developed space travel, it takes about ten years to travel a quarter (less than, actually) of that distance. So to travel to another solar system, with an inhabited planet, would take many, many, many generations worth of people.
² Our galaxy is 100,000 light years in diameter. If it takes 10 years to get from Earth to Pluto, which is less than one light year, imagine how long it would take to get all the way to the other side of the galaxy.
³ Our galaxy isn’t even a spec of dust to some other galaxies. The largest known galaxy, IC 1101, is almost six million light years in diameter, and it has about 100 trillion stars in it. Plus, it’s a billion light years away.