Listing all posts tagged space

One of my absolutely favourite websites lately has been The Public Domain Review, a journal by the Open Knowledge Foundation celebrating public domain trasures. For instance, Flowers in the Sky presents changing depictions of astronomical phenomena over the centuries (I really like the above 16th century German illustration of a comet seen five centuries prior).

The Review also published its Book of Selected Essays, which I received recently and thoroughly recommend.

Martian dawn. Photo taken August 13, 1977 by the Viking 1 Lander. Pruned

Science news this week are all about the almost certain discovery of the Higgs Boson. From what I gather that’s big news, even if my understanding of particle physics is also in an infinitesimal scale, so I go with the explanation that the finding of the Higgs particle closes and vindicates the Standard Model of particle physics in pretty much the same way the discoveries of elements such as Gallium, Ytterbium or the noble gases in the late 19th century vindicated the atomic model and Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table.

However, I find myself in utter lack of awe at such discoveries. I think it’s sad all cutting-edge science nowadays seems to deal with the negative Powers of Ten, the infinitesimal, starting at nano and working its way down. It feels as if Mankind is retreating, into Earth, into tinier and tinier spaces. That’s not to say the study of the infinitesimal isn’t interesting and without awesomeness — just look up stuff on quantum levitation or Bose-Einstein condensates — but we also need to look at the stars — at the positive powers — for inspiration.

Hence The Voyagers by Penny Lane. Go watch it in silence. Let’s not retreat into tiny holes in the ground.