Sunday, December 21, 2008

Megalithic 2.0 and the Winter Solstice

There's something disconcerting about watching a live webcast of the winter soltice sunrise from a 5000 year-old megalithic tomb at Newgrange, Ireland. While it's unlikely I'll set an early alarm, I'll probably check out the replay later in the day.

It's cool, but completely lacks context. For some perspective, see Alan Boyle's Hope on a Pale Blue Dot post at the Cosmic Log, a thoughtful reflection on Carl Sagan, which includes a 1977 video (is that lecturer the real Profesor Sagan?). Boyle saves the best for last: a mashup of Sagan readings paired with an Academy Award-like tribute compilation of film clips. All that comedy, romance, drama and conflict, joy and inhumanity indeed happen on the Pale Blue Dot, in just a portion of a pixel.

Sagan's words and set against a myriad of images of mankind, even the simple fact that we could take that image and know our true place and scale in the universe, all demonstrate to me one critical thing. This species can comprehend things bigger than anyone or anything on our home planet. Good thing too, we must now start taking care of it and treating one another the way we would want to be treated.

And that's an appropriate sentiment for the winter solstice.

P.S. Our winter begins at 0704 EST on Sunday the 21st (1204 UT)

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