Posts tagged space
"The crewmembers used a 70mm camera to photograph this northeasterly looking view of the plume from the Kamchatka peninsula’s newly erupted volcano. The eruption was photographed from 115 nautical miles above Earth." (Via NASA)
“ This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted.”
With both Cassini’s wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras aimed at Saturn, Cassini was able to capture 323 images in just over four hours. This final mosaic uses 141 of those wide-angle images. Images taken using the red, green and blue spectral filters of the wide-angle camera were combined and mosaicked together to create this natural-color view.
Donna Haraway, one of my favorite professors from my time at UCSC, came up with a list of the four major blows to the human ego: ideas which caught on, undermined our supposed central place in the universe, and diverted culture. They are:
- The Copernican Revolution, which allowed us to realize we weren’t the center of the universe.
- Darwinian thought, which allowed us to realize we weren’t separate from animals.
- Freud’s ideas of the unconscious, which allowed us to realize that we weren’t in full control of our selves.
- Cyborgs, robots, and automatons, which allowed us to realize that non-humans could do the work of humans.
I haven’t seen this list referenced anywhere since Haraway introduced it offhandedly1 in a seminar, so apologies for no original sourcing. I think about it at least once every three months.
Stumbling on the 4 Blows to the Ego this morning I realized a fifth has emerged over the last couple years:
- The Kepler revolution, which allowed us to realize that planets and solar systems are not the exception, but the norm.
It is now accepted that the Milky Way contains at least as many planets as it does stars. This is quite a change from my childhood, when all the space literature I read marveled at the exemption that was our solar system.
As Kepler winds down we’re just beginning to see this thinking trickle out of science communities into mainstream narrative. Only time will tell how it affects our culture, thinking, and overall worldview.
Casually tossing out giant, mind-rearranging ideas on the way to her seemingly unrelated central thesis is the defining element of Haraway lectures and writing. ↩
"Astronauts aboard the International Space Station photographed these striking views of Pavlof Volcano on May 18, 2013. The oblique, ever-changing perspective from the Space Station reveals the three dimensional structure of the ash plume, often obscured by the top-down view of most remote sensing satellites. Pavlof, in the Aleutian Islands about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage, jetted lava into the air and spewed an ash cloud 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) high."