Little islands of life

I like to take breaks at work to walk around and think, but it was raining so I walked around in the parking garage. With springtime arriving, the spiders are out in force, and I noticed that nearly every overhead light I walked under was surrounded and covered in spiderwebs, with multiple spiders clearly visible–a few I even saw in the process of building. These were not dead webs piled up over time, but new arrivals, and all of them centered on light sources that would draw insects into those webs.

How could these spiders know to build their webs around the lights? Light sources other than the sun like that are a new invention that the spiders could not have yet adapted to…

But of course, it’s not the light attracting the spiders. Instead it’s the same thing that draws them into your house in the winter: the heat.  Each light fixture is a hospitable planet in the cold emptiness of space.

Temperature differences are often a focal point of life. Life on earth is thought to have started at thermal vents in the deep ocean, those cracks of heat in the icy depths…

I wonder, if life capable of interstellar travel exists in the universe, whether it would even bother dealing with planets. Would they not go straight for the greatest temperature difference of all, that of stars and space? Maybe the alien life we’re looking for is orbiting our sun, and soaking up endless energy, instead of bothering with little, cold, rocky us.

 

 

 

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