Saturday, March 20, 2010

Four Worlds, Four Scales

This is today's APOD, from Teide National Park on the island of Tenerife. Not only is the photo stunningly beautiful, it's stunning in the range of scales captured. The starry, mottled arc of our Milky Way galaxy curves across the sky. Dust in the ecliptic plane of the solar system reflects sunlight to create the slightly left-leaning spike of zodiacal light from the middle horizon. A starkly rugged volcanic landscape, with a relatively fresh lava flow, brings the viewer to our own planet- still frequently overwhelming in its scale, however trivial compared to that of the solar system and galaxy. Because compared to the fourth world and scale- our own selves- all three of the former are so many magnitudes larger.

Still, in our thinking, reasoning, and imagination, we can represent, capture, if you will, all of these other worlds and scales. I guess that makes the whole thing kind of a cosmic "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game, doesn't it?

The mind reels.

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