Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Comfort in the arms of the cosmos

The night sky in November's New Hampshire is exceptionally dark. And since the last few nights have had just a sliver of moon, the Milky Way has been big, bright, and beautiful.

Wanna feel small? Bundle up, then lay on the ground and stare at the Milky Way. That cloudy band of light is billions of stars, dimmed and blurred by immersion in distance.

But it’s not just that. Now I'm going to try very hard to show you the Milky Way for the very first time.

You already know, that the Milky Way is also the name of our home galaxy. A flattened spiral, with wispy arms stretching across 100,000 light-years of space. Like this (which is a not-yet-possible picture by the way):

So the Milky Way is both?

How do we go from a Milky Way that is a faint band of light across the night sky, to a spiral galaxy of 100 billion stars?

Think about this... How can it be both?

Well, from where you’re laying on the surface of the earth, you look out into space along what’s called the Galactic Plane. Stars are more dense in the plane, and since we’re in one of the arms, it appears as a blurry band of light. Get it?... Not yet?

What it takes is a shift in perspective and this is where the power of visualization can help.

This Video Clip might be the first time you've ever seen the Milky Way for what it really is - our true place in the arms of a galaxy - the galaxy. Here's what will eventually happen when our Milky Way collides with our nearest neighbor galaxy, Andromeda.

When you look at the Milky Way in the night sky, what you're actually seeing is our galaxy on edge. It’s not just a band of ethereal light we call the Milky Way, it IS THE MILKY WAY! They are the same thing. Now do you get it? All it really takes is a change in perspective. (Music in this clip is borrowed from the original COSMOS Soundtrack. I recommend you purchase the DVD Box set)

I think about these things when I’m feeling particularly lonely. Then all I have to do is aim my gaze down, and I'm suddenly surrounded by good worldly stuff. Kind of like being in the arms of a galaxy – no not kind of – exactly!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Please read

Over a decade ago, I founded and ran a small idealistic nonprofit called "Research Expeditions - Adventures with a mission" (this link points to an online web archive from the early days of the internet. I get all nostalgic as I explore it. Oh how naive :).

Research Expeditons was my way to bring people out into the natural world to experience it first-hand. I specialized in foot and sail powered adventures in East Africa and the Caribbean. The idea was that a scientifically-induced, viceral experience in nature would manifest as a new personal ethic - a new worldview, an "omniscopic" perspective.

Research Expeditions eventually became Omniscopic Productions and for many years now, Omniscopic has been my small one-man production company dedicated to producing media with the same basic goal.

It is still my guiding belief, that an omniscopic perspective is the best hope for a long-term sustainable human future. So I'm still dedicated to articulating and communicating the ideas, and making them accessible to all.

Omniscopic Inc. is now an umbrella entity from which I can launch a variety of educational projects (more on this later). But as I've been putting the finishing touches on the Omniscopic charter statement I have found myself returning again and again to a document I stumbled across years ago. The Earth Charter is such an eloquent and important document, I feel compelled to encourage you to read and endorse it. It clearly descibes my personal mission.