30 September 2011

We Humans Are a Young Species

We humans are a young species. 

This may sound as a surprise to many, as we feel that we have lived on this Earth forever. 

Compared to the age of the universe, at 14 billion years, the 300 000 years or so of existence of the Homo sapien species, has occupied just a fraction (2.14 x 10 to the -5, or 0.0000214), or 0.002% of the age of the current universe.  Similarly, our presence on the Earth has only occupied about 0.006% of the Earth's presence. 

We all originated in Africa, with implications that we're all more or less related, and only relatively recently, diverging paths to populate the entire globe. (See image below.) For more information about this background, you may also wish to read my Tech Xav article on Future Human Technological Innovation.

The implications for understanding how exceedingly young we are as a species are enormous.  Many people living on this Earth feel that our knowledge is so superb, our mastery of nature so complete, and our ability to manipulate the universe at such awesome levels. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. By understanding the infancy of our species, it brings humility to our everyday experiences and activities, as well as knowing that we have much to learn.

Understanding this important concept also allows us to forgive ourselves.  We can forgive ourselves for our naivete, our silliness, our foolishness, our selfishness, our obsession with minute details, our absorption with trivia, our competitive nature, our pretense that we have all the answers, our brashness, and our almost perpetual arrogance. 

As implied in the name of our species, we are perhaps the wisest of the animal species, if we are willing to keep an open mind and to seek wisdom.  This wisdom can somewhat be sought by pursuing a wider perspective about our lives, which allows us to keep striving to better understand this universe - a universe in which we were, seemingly by chance, brought into - and our roles in it.

I do hope that our species will see the light of the day when we one day mature and finally grow up as a species.



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