Monday, July 21, 2008

The moment that gave birth to imagination...

39 years ago yesterday, humankind first set foot on another celestial body.

Most think it routine, but most are not aware of our long, arduous, millennial, triumphant path from single-celled organism to trilobite along the way to Neanderthal and our most recent inception as Homo Sapiens.

Only approximately 4 billion years of the 4.6 billion years since Earth's formation have passed since the estimated origin of life on Earth first began, yet in our planet's and our species young emergence, we have found several Revolutionary schisms between times past and times present, one might say a Cambrian explosion of thought, or a moment where our species defied previous, non-existent expectations, and leaped forward exponentially:
In the last 400-500 years of scientific discovery that have given rise to everything from Boeing 747s to nuclear weapons to Wi-Fi internet and the Apple iPod Touch, there have been several moments that stand alone in the upright and righteous herald and royalty of reason and the scientific method over the stagnant and static status quo of ever-present human dogma:

-Copernicus's notion of Heliocentric astronomy

-Newtonian Physics

-Darwin's Theory of the Origin of Species, later dubbed Evolution

-Einstein's Theory of Relativity

These are the Biggies, but Nothing in our so recent and temporally blind memory trumpeted the genius and profundity of human ambition, goodness, or discovery more than this moment:

As Phil has said, it is a definitive Before and After Moment.

It is a moment that our species has chosen to fixate upon, and some have speculated, may have philosophical implications for the rest of us, ideology or no, that will echo throughout our own lives and those of our children and grandchildren. To realize our place and time in our own personal, ephemeral universe is to know greatness and at its very least, galactic, perhaps a universal sense of humility. Drawing upon my list of heroes, Dr. Carl Sagan identified this idea long before I was aware of it, but his phrasing drew him, among many fellow scientists from the venue of the empirical to the vast and beautiful forum of meaningful, modern, existential, and appreciative human literature. His efforts should be viewed as if produced among the works of our greatest philosophers in conjunction with our most talented poets. READ HIS BOOKS! Beyond that, we only have the draw of the devotion of his fans:

(if I had $16 million dollars extra, I'd air this during the superbowl, SERIOUSLY)