Here’s an *awesome* clip from “Wonders of the Solar System” presented by Professor Brian Cox:
“Imagine this was a piece of Saturn’s rings. What a view!” That’s an inspiring thought isn’t it? That clip does a great job of making us feel a sense of wonder for the things scientists have discovered about the universe. For me, it approaches a mystical blissout but your mileage will vary.*
Wonder in the natural world, universe, and the excitement of scientific discovery is often what leads many people into a career in science. Daily exposure to the latest wonders is a great job benefit and can make for a rewarding career.
Unfortunately, scientific discovery doesn’t just offer us mystical blissouts. Scientific wonder has a flipside as seen in this video:
…a moment to shake the bricks out of our underwear…
Thank you, science, for showing us in minute gory detail exactly how boned we are if the Earth is hit by a meteor, asteroid, or comet. Yes, we have science to thank for the knowledge that we could be wiped out in a few hours if a giant rock from space slammed into the Earth. We have science to thank for the fact that we know that little germs arise from time to time that kill us off in great numbers. We have science to thank for the fact that we know that humans’ use of fossil fuels are changing the world in such a way that is going endanger our lives unless we change our habits. This is just a small sample of possible threats to our survival and life on Earth that science has uncovered for us.
Those are just the natural threats. We didn’t need science to tell us that we are a threat to ourselves; however, science gave us the ability to war against each other in ways that would likely kill us all. The mass military buildup of the Cold War is the shining example of how we are one of our biggest problems.***
Sometimes people find that thinking about these megaproblems is very unsettling. They seem so much bigger than us and over our heads. In the past, we have tended to either ignore the out-of-our league problems altogether or attempt to hand them off to something bigger than ourselves in the form of supernatural beings or forces.
Many of us experience a great sense of peace and comfort against the terrors of life in our religious beliefs. However, when it comes to the greatest problems facing humanity we cannot allow ourselves the luxury to merely fret, wish, pray, or perform rituals as a way of warding off our biggest problems. We need to work on them.
The only way to overcome the big problems is through advancing our knowledge. At this time, the best way we know of to increase our knowledge is through the practice of science.
The more people and groups of people contributing toward solving the big, overwhelming problems the better. It could take many lifetimes before we can defend ourselves against the greatest dangers. In the meantime, though, a bounty of spin-off innovations and discoveries that improve our understanding of the universe, our quality of life, and security are sure to result from pursuing such goals. There is no doubt that this increase in knowledge will uncover as yet unknown threats and problems. Over time, though, we’ll get better at figuring things out and new problems will not threaten but inspire us with the possibilities of new and wonderous frontiers.
*Personally, I could watch “Wonders of the Solar System” and “Wonders of the Universe” all day.**
**Sometimes I do.
***Dr. David Eagleman and many others are studying what makes us a threat to each other and possible ways to change our behavior http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB048F2B20DBB4BE9