Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where were you?

Can you see me there, waving, from the white speck in the bottom right quadrant of the photo? No? Is 900 million miles too far away?

From an article in Huffington Post:

"Good photographers go to great lengths to get the best pictures, but few have ventured farther than Cassini did on July 19, 2013. From 5:27 p.m. to 5:42 p.m. EDT on that date, the robotic spacecraft peered across almost 900 million miles of empty space to capture a series of awe-inspiring images of Earth."

Last Friday, at 2:27pm PDT, I was finishing a late lunch at the picnic table under the awning outside at work, so I was most likely not visible in the photo. I didn't know! If I'd known, I would have sat on the lawn, away from the umbrella. 

(Full story here.)

Silliness aside, when I first viewed this picture, I broke down and wept, completely undone by the, the — the what, exactly? Grandeur? Vastness? Our own utter insignificance in the universe? That we possess this stunning ability to love, and to feel love? That we even perceive something we call beauty? (Which is what, exactly?)

In all truth, in the thick of all this personal investigation in the World of Physics, I was completely undone by the mere notion of a photograph of us — every last one of us, if you will — having been taken by a satellite sent into space by humans, from a distance of 900 million miles, and then transmitted to us across that same distance. I cannot fathom this. I want to understand it scientifically and poetically, and the possibility of either of these seems infinitely and staggeringly daunting.


  1. From a friend, attending an astronomy camp for science fiction and fantasy writers in Colorado at that moment:

    Love, C.

  2. Or maybe we just like looking at ourselves ... another Kodak Moment.