Thursday, September 2, 2010

Up and Down, Here and There

I have always loved astrophotos. I'm just old enough to have watched the original airings of Star Trek TOS, and I remember being fascinated with the photos of galaxies especially. It wasn't until I started my geology degree that I started to really think about what separated geology from astronomy. My conclusion is that it's only a matter of perspective. If we were Mercurians (?), looking outward from the sun, with earth in the night sky, this is what we would see:Earth and Luna, from the MESSENGER robotic probe, yesterday's APOD. If we were a life form evolved to live on the surface of Mercury, to what degree would we be able to make sense of the processes on Earth's surface? Would we eventually comprehend volcanism on a planet that has been volcanically inert for eons?

We face the same conundrum from our perspective on this planet. It has been a long, involved process simply to make sense of the environment in our immediate nieghborhood- and there are plenty of unanswered questions still. Yet we are capable of extrapolating from both natural and experimental/laboratory conditions and making provisional statements about the nature and history of other objects in the universe... some only light minutes away, some millions or even billions of light years away. (below from Hawaiian Lava Daily)
I think that's part of what nearly paralyzes me when I see images that combine beautiful geology and astronomy: the realization that I make a distinction between them only because I happen to be here rather than there. And the feeling that there may very well be- maybe likely to be- some unimaginable creature there looking back and contemplating exactly the same thing.

1 comment:

Dana Hunter said...

Simply: wow.

From a pale blue dot to a double star. That's amazing.