Here’s the latest beautiful video pinging around the internet, a time-lapse video taken from the International Space Station as it orbits the earth. Beautiful imagery of stars, aurora, lightning, city lights, clouds . . . our pale blue dot in all its glory.
Best viewed in full screen.
In honor of Carl Sagan’s recent birthday, musician John Boswell has brought us another Symphony of Science, and it’s a beauty.
My goodness, it seems the internet is just crowded with beautiful science today.
Richard Dawkins has written a beautifully illustrated book called The Magic of Reality.
I’ll let the book’s own blurb tell the story:
Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back—earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality—science.
This would be a perfect book for a young person with an aptitude for science, but it’s rich with clear descriptions even for adults. With brief helpful explanations about how genes work, or stellar fusion, or plate tectonics, Dawkins contrasts the myths of ancient (and some modern) cultures with the real story of how things work. The result is a beautiful and informative introduction to this magical place we call reality.
I’m a big fan of Carl Sagan, and particularly the Sagan Series, a collection of videos featuring our planet in its glories and perils along with the unique and familiar voice of Sagan.
The human race has a particular trait, in that because we need to eat and sleep and other things of basic survival every single day, we tend to focus only on the here and now. We’re like cattle, heads held down low, munching on a tuft of grass. When that one’s eaten, we move on to the next tuft, still with our heads down low, eyes fixed just a few inches before us. Then we munch more grass, then more a little ways ahead, and still more. And after a while, when we finally lift our heads and look around . . . we have no idea where we are. We’ve wandered far astray for the simple reason that we’ve only been watching our feet and the ground directly in front of us.
It’s hard, and not popular, but Sagan encourages us to lift our heads sooner rather than later, to measure how far we’ve come and we we are going, lest we find ourselves trapped in a peril of our own making.
Watch Bobby McFerrin prove that people universally resonate to the pentatonic scale.
Either that, or he proves that people are sheep.