TED Conversations

phillip swallow

This conversation is closed.

Could the stars be conscious?

Symbolically what could be better than stars for representing ideas. They have long been a source of wonder, and over millions of years have become ingrained in our shared human psyche. In many if not all religions and mythologies, like the Greek mythos, stars, planets and constellations came to represent entities of great power. For most of the 2 million years that human beings have left their footprints on the sands of time, the stars were alive. Even seen as ancestors who watch over us, a comforting thought when much was mystery, and by necessity, fear ruled supreme. They are permanent fixtures in a ever changing environment, actually have guided us, across desserts and seas.

Look at our own star, it is responsible for all life on Earth. The sun sends out radiation in waves that vary in length from kilometers, to a fraction of a molecule. New methods of observation, show us that the sun itself is a living system, with chaotic, fractal electromagnetic patterns throughout. Could it be argued that stars are conscious? All the cells in your brain were part of a star at one point, so science tells us. They certainly are not inactive objects, constantly broadcasting light across the cosmos.

Must life be organic to be defined as such? Much fear has been expressed in movies such as The Matrix that computing and robotics will produce life. Is it just another example of that pervasive human fear of the unknown that prevents us from witnessing life so foreign to our own understanding? The same fear fostered so efficiently by the Catholic church, that held back the development of human identity a thousand years. The ancients believed that the heavens are alive. The ancient Greeks and hundreds of other civilization created gods to represent the stars. The human mind is capable of contemplating God, but can we even fathom the possibility of consciousness so unlike our own.

Is the shepherd leading us astray?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 31 2013: To start with something a little closer, maybe the Earth itself is a living organism ... Could it be true?

    • thumb
      Mar 31 2013: It is clear that photosynthetic organisms have radically altered earth itself, and contributed to forming the atmosphere essential for life on earth.
      Entire climate systems are formed by the two massive jungles in the southern hemisphere (Amazon and Congo), when humans arrived on the Australian continent 40,000 years ago, it was covered by plant life, fertilized by the native large animals on the continent, within a few thousand years, humans had wiped out these animal species thus destroying the ability for the plants to reproduce. Australia then became what it is now a huge desert continent. The loss of so much oxygen producing vegetation must have significantly impacted the global respiration system, and thereby the climate. 30,000 years later, a blink of the eye in earths history, the Ice age began could there be a connection between the two events?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.