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Weekly commentaries on current issues. Commentaries are posted every Monday, in English and Spanish. Please, read our previous commentaries in the Archive section.
Last week, I had the privilege of watching and experiencing the solar eclipse that was also seen over a large section of the United States. I must say that without a doubt it was a unique experience with different layers of meanings, generating amazement, reverence, and even a touch of fear. Yet, I was not prepared to link the eclipse to extraterrestrials (ETs) and percentages.
Let me explain. The sun was not still fully recovered from being eclipsed by the moon when somebody (who is part of my social network) posted a message saying ETs were probably laughing at humans because they could see such many people “wasting time” looking at the eclipse.
I immediately thought that if we assume ETs are out there and that they are intelligent, then, precisely for being intelligent, they would not waste their time watching us wasting our time. Also, if ETs are out there looking at us, they will probably find many other reasons to laugh at us besides us watching an eclipse.
In fact, ETs only need to read the avalanche of nonsensical post being constantly accumulated in social networks (each posting competing with all others for an ephemeral “like”), that would be enough for them to laugh for a long time. They then will rightly conclude that our planet is made only of adorable kittens, wonderful sunsets, motivational phrases, and grotesque pictures.
We could imagine, of course, that there is an advanced ET civilization able to things we only see in sci-fi movies, such as traveling across the galaxies. Looking at us watching an eclipse, members of that advanced ET civilization would probably smile in amazement that we are still impressed with an eclipse while at the same time they frequently watch more complicated cosmic events.
However, I don’t think the person who posted about “wasting our time” watching the eclipse was thinking about ET civilizations or about cosmic events, but about our obligation of working every day all day, regardless of what may be happening in the skies. If ETs could see us being forced to work all day, they will probably cry, not laugh, at us.
And then somebody else posted a message using all capitals saying that in Denver, Colorado, “the totality of the eclipse reached 92 percent”. I was tempted to reply -but I didn’t do it- saying that the only totality is “100 percent”. Less than that, is not a totality, be it an eclipse or anything else.
If people in Denver saw the moon covering the 92 percent of the sun, then that was the maximum extension of the eclipse at that time and at that place, but that was not the totality of the eclipse. In other words, if nine out of ten people are healthy and one is sick, it won’t be proper to say that “the totality” of the people are healthy.
Yet, who cares about semantic or astronomical questions? So, perhaps it is true that ET are indeed laughing at us.