Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
February 27, 2013
Space is such a beautiful and captivating frontier. The expanse can be daunting at first glance but with time, practice, and patience one can begin to learn and appreciate all that the final frontier has to offer. Just think about it, the whole process of setting up a telescope to view and comprehend the universe takes human attributes that are very important for a functioning society. First of all, one must learn a great deal of patience when becoming an amateur astronomer as one never knows when skies will be clear enough to capture the gems that inhabit our solar system, galaxy, and universe. Secondly, being an astronomer forces a single individual to recall most of the information that we all should have learned in academic life. In order for one to truly appreciate the universe one must recall basic math, biology, chemistry, and physics. Not only does exploring the great unknown require academic understanding but it can also cultivate imagination and creativity through the use of photography and computer generated images of distant planets and galaxies. Looking at the ‘stars’ has also been a great source of inspiration for humanity in the form of poems, literature, songs, and being involved with something greater than oneself. By standing on the shoulders of giants we can learn from cultures past and apply that knowledge to help us unlock the mysteries that the universe has to offer. This can include learning about the Newtonian view of the universe to Einstein’s concept of relativity to the frontier of quantum mechanics. We must first stand on the shoulders of giants before we can expand the knowledge base and become the part of the giant that future generations will use to spring board into the great unknown.
I remember the night that I was bitten by the astronomy bug as if it were yesterday. It was a crystal clear night in 1996 and I was on the hunt for comet Hyakutake. I remember thinking about the human attributes of courage, curiosity, discovery, exploration, and patience. The curiosity and courage that we must possess in order to push new frontiers, the discovery and exploration that were done by individuals that lived before me, and the patience that it took to wait for an object that had not been seen by previous generations. I also remember feeling butterflies and goose bumps when watching this particular event. It’s a feeling that I try to reproduce on a daily basis. If we as a society can learn to capture these attributes I feel that we as humanity can overcome most obstacles that are placed in our collective way.
Remember, keep looking up and discover new horizons. What part of the giant are you ready to become?
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.