Do we inhabit a universe whose occupants are mostly pond scum.

❝ …Most astrobiologists seem comfortable with the premise that life might be widespread. But their optimism doesn’t always extend to complex, intelligent life.

❝ It’s possible that we inhabit a universe whose occupants are mostly pond scum. After decades of seeing semi-humanoid aliens strut across the silver screen, it would be more than a little disappointing to think that the actual cosmic bestiary largely consists of plants and animals that are microscopic, or at best, no smarter than cane toads.

That situation would make humans very special, a circumstance that seems at odds with the enormous amount of real estate available for life, as well as the billions of years since the Big Bang during which intelligence could arise.

❝ So, could there be a plausible explanation for why the universe seems so short on keen-witted company?

RTFA for some useful reflection upon our species, the known universe and such.

The best NASA images from 2012

2012 saw a number of significant milestones in star gazing and space exploration. NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet in spectacular fashion, super-Earth’s were discovered, the Moon pounded and Voyager 1 edged ever closer towards interstellar space and we saw more of the universe around us than ever before.

As the calendar rolls over, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has put together an album of its top images for 2012. We’ve also picked our NASA favorites, highlighting some of the fascinating discoveries and incredible imagery captured in the skies above during the last twelve months.

Head to our gallery to see the full selection.

Lovely views, wonderful collection of humans exploring and learning.