Thoughts & Insights
A Curious Coincidence
Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.
Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this universe, there shines a star.
But everyone of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the Sun. And many – perhaps most – of those alien suns have planets circling them. So almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven – or hell.
How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times further away than Mars or Venus, those still remote goals of the next generation. But the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.”
From: Arthur C. Clarke: 2001 – A Space Odyssey. Based on the screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. Foreword by A.C.C. and S.K. First published in Great Britain by Hutchinson 1968.