24 October 2019 ~~ Day Thirteen

We were up and together in time to have breakfast and make it to the first talk of the day, ” Are we Alone in the Universe?” Alan Wright tackles one of humankind’s biggest questions as he explores the chances of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, outlines what alien life forms could be like and discusses how we are presently attempting to make contact with them. And what will happen when we do. He is another highly qualified speaker and we’re fortunate to have heard him on two previous cruises.

Alan Wright has been a professional research astronomer for over 50 years, much of that time as the Chief Astronomer & Head of Operations at the world-famous Parkes Observatory in Australia, known to many as “The Dish”.  He is a multiple graduate of London University and has worked in Canada, the USA and several European countries, as well as in his home of Australia.

In 1982 he co-discovered the most distant known object in the universe and has also been involved in many other major discoveries and projects, including:• how stars are born;• what happens when galaxies collide;• the search for alien intelligent life &• the quest for the edge of the Universe
In addition, he has also collaborated extensively with overseas organizations, like NASA and the European Space Agency on such projects as the Giotto Mission to Halley’s Comet in and the Voyager II fly-bys of the planets Uranus and Neptune.

One of the things we greatly appreciate about Holland America is the caliber of speakers, especially when we have a lot of sea days. Today was no exception.  Alan shared some pretty detailed information about the timeline of the earth and the evolution of homo sapiens.  He shared that in our universe some stars are too hot and some are too cold to support life as we know it. The Kepler Telescope has found other exo-planets.  Three hundred earth-size planets have been discovered.  He concluded that there may well be life out there, but at too great a distance for us to reach.  If you really want to learn more, here’s a link: https://www.nasa.gov/kepler/discoveries.

In the afternoon, we watched another fascinating presentation by Joseph Kess on “Peopling Polynesia.”  He shared that Austronesians went to Taiwan five thousand years ago; ethnic groups went from Philippines and Indonesia to Micronesia three-thousand five-hundred years ago.  Samoa and Tonga were settled about 1000 B.C. That was two-thousand years before the Vikings!  He also went into the history of the Bismarck Archipelago being a protectorate of Germany from 1885 until the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, when Germany lost all its colonial possessions, including German New Guinea.

The history of WWII in this area would take a lot of space and there are many references for those who want to know more about the control of the various island groups.  Just this year, the Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China.  The Chinese wanted to lease an entire island for seventy-five years to have access to a deep water port.  Apparently the deal has been nixed because the Solomon Islands province and Chinese company were not legally qualified to enter such a lease.

It was a gala night, but Hubby didn’t feel like dressing up, so we had dinner in the lido. The World Stage has become more like a petri dish with people freely, and inconsiderately, sharing their cough.  We’ve decided not to attend shows unless we can sit in the area to the right or left of the stage that is somewhat secluded from the rest of the audience.  

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