For Those Who Live To See the Year 2181
The potentially hazardous asteroid '(101955) 1999 RQ36' has a one-in-a-thousand chance of impacting the Earth, and more than half of this probability indicates that this could happen in the year 2182, based on a global study in which Spanish researchers have been involved. Knowing this fact may help design in advance mechanisms aimed at deviating the asteroid's path.
Any person with a good education and intellectual habits will not disagree with anyone who states that humans are nothing but animals. But how is it a flesh and bone animal came to worry about things in deep space? Not even our closest relatives (gorillas, chimps, bonobos—and, as is pointed out in the new book Sex at Dawn
, we are closer to chimps and bonobos than African elephants are to Asian elephants) have a single idea of what space is. None whatsoever. This gulf between us and the rest, between what we know and what they do not know, is so huge that words cannot cross it. We are here, and they are way over there. Indeed, echoes of this distance can found in this passage from Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern
[For the Achaur, an Amazonian tribe, in nature there are a] set of things with which communication cannot be established. Opposite beings endowed with language, of which humans are the most perfect incarnation, stand those things deprived of speech that inhabit parallel, inaccessible worlds. The inability to communicate is often ascribed to the lack of soul that affects certain living species: most insects and fish, poultry, and numerous plants, which thus lead a mechanical, inconsequential existence. But the absence of communication is sometimes due to distance: the souls of stars and meteors, infinitely far away and prodigiously mobile, remain deaf to human words
Our dogs and cats will never know what we know. We may enter their minds, but never "(101955) 1999 RQ36."