Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
|“||What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.||”|
When Dr. Alexander Fleming, founder of penicillin, was asked why he would not test on a dog, a rat or an orphaned child, his reply was, “Why would I test a cure for a human malaise on a species of God that has done nothing to our species but try to endure us? And furthermore, the minute we begin to test on children is the very minute I shall stop attempting to find cures to save us as a race.”
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I never cease to be humbled and amazed when I see our Planet Earth reduced to a pinpoint when photographed from elsewhere in the solar system. So far, our planet-roaming spacecraft have taken tourist snapshots of Earth as seen from Mars, Saturn, and beyond Pluto’s orbit.
But this latest view from NASA’s MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) spacecraft is a jaw-dropper.
For the first time we see Earth -- in astronomical parlance -- as a fully illuminated superior planet 114 million mile outward from Mercury. Earth really looks like a double star because the moon is snuggled up next to it.
In fact this kind of humbling photograph makes the debate over planet-size -- as in the case of the Pluto hysteria – seem irrelevant. Face it, we live on a speck of cosmic dust.
The snapshot was not taken for inspiration but for science. It’s part of MESSENGER's campaign to search for vulcanoids. These aren't Mr. Spock mutants, but small rocky objects that might exist in orbits between Mercury and the Sun.Views like this momentarily lift us from the gravitational pull of our warlike species. It makes all of our political fights, conflicts and upheavals seem puny and irrelevant against the velvet black backdrop of a star sprinkled infinite universe. You might imagine such a view from standing alongside the thrones of mythological gods.
Carl Sagan was first taken back by the distant Earth perspective when the Voyager 1 spacecraft photograph Earth from 3.7 billion miles away in 1990. He was inspired to write the 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.”
Ok, so what if Earth is just a dot in the picture? Well, it’s incredible to think that dot encompasses all the achievements, joys, fears, and tears of the 100 billion people who have occupied this celestial pebble since the dawn of our species.