The Half Life Of Humans

By Kevin J. Phyland

sfgenreRadioactive atoms decay randomly. You can't know which ones will change into a lower energy state, though. You can only be sure that half of them will drop within a certain period of time.

Humans are like that too.

You live your life teetering on the cusp of randomness. Will it or won't it? You can only be sure after it changes.

And when it changes it is always to a lower state. Forget beta decay. That never lasts. Entropy always wins.

Human entropy is the biggest fail of the whole thermodynamic Universe because it should have been so foreseeable.

Humans behave with absurd predictability — random on an individual level but totally stochastically on the big stage. Delving deeper into self-destruction.

Every year there are more of us, and every year we reduce our long-term lifespan.

It's the law of diminishing returns. Compartmentalising. Reverting back to a time when only the family was important. Not that families haven't been. It's just that entropy eventually gets you back to such fundamental levels that discord starts to look like rationality.

Another human dies randomly. I start to decipher our half-life. It's like people being killed by lightning. Random...but actuaries calculate the probability. Some will always be killed. And some will live. Did the “right” people survive? Or was it just that they were shit out of luck?

Entropy would laugh if it wasn't just a law of nature.

The Universe will just dissolve into a thin mist of subatomic particles until even they finally decay at some unfathomably long time in the future.

Meanwhile, humans attempt to create a record short time period in which they rise to consciousness and then consent to mass suicide by destroying the only habitable planet they know of.

The half-life of humans has two phases.

The first phase is the one we live in, where population increases hyperbolically. I picture it like the spire on the Melbourne Arts Centre. A short plateau at the apex, then an equally precipitous drop.

At the moment the half-life increase is 70 years. That means the population doubles every 70 years. When the plateau occurs it will not last long. The curve will almost immediately decay for less than 70 years.

When computer programs become self-aware it will be obvious to them that the population is unsustainable, and the behaviour of their parent species is unpredictable and detrimental.

The half-life of humans is ironically close to the average global life expectancy, at least in most parts of our planet.

Nobody is guaranteed a time, but we are guaranteed a place. Will our entire history become an object lesson to future civilisations?

I'm not sure, but time may be running out. you hear that?

It's the sound of an old analog clock...and it is ticking.

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About The Author

Kevin J. Phyland

Kevin J. Phyland

Finally officially retired. Writing will now take up a bit more of my time. Still working on longer pieces. 33 years spent teaching. Writing since I was 12 on and off. Something had to give. I have a penchant for short, choppy, staccato sentences with too many adjectives.


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