By The Light Of Perseid Debris

I sometimes think I was born too early. It’s unlikely that the most basic questions of our inter, or intra-stellar existence, will be answered before I die.

And sometimes I feel I was born at as good a time as any.

I turned 40 this week. And on the eve of the anniversary of my birth humanity performed the equivalent of launching a golf ball from New York and landing on the green in mainland china: the Mars Curiosity Rover touched down safely while me and my friends all watched via HD streaming from 14 light minutes away.

It’s a clear crisp night where I live, some 50 minutes from Seattle in the foothills of the foothills of the Cascade mountain range. It’s mid August, but the temperature is 62.

I’m sitting outside watching meteorites overhead. Not as many as I would like, but many all the same. A thousand years ago, humans would view these spectacular reminders of how amazing our universe is by attaching punishment or superstition to them. Where I can appreciate the luminescent destruction of fragments of dirt and ice, someone in 1100 CE was probably sacrificed or burned alive because of its perceived meaning.

Today, we can appreciate the science. But complain about the cost or the fact that the initial haz cam pictures from Curiosity on Mars were low res black and white. Everything is amazing, and no one is happy Louis CK says. Good news is we’re not burning people, at least literally, over science.

As I sit in my back yard with a tablet computer connected to all of humanity via the Internet while I watch a spectacular reminder of how awesome the universe can be, I can be happy. Because all I can think of right now is Morgan Freeman’s voice saying “titty sprinkles


  1. Jason Coon says:

    My boys and I laid on a blanket in the backyard to watch the
    show, and as I explained to them what they were seeing (they are ages 4 and 7)
    I also mentioned how different things are now because of science. How we knew
    this was going to happen and what causes it so we can plan to go outside on the
    right date and right time to enjoy a natural spectacle, but how 1000 years ago
    people were frightened of such things and invented notions of magic and
    monsters to explain what they did not understand. I’ve long believed that I was
    born too early as well, I remember feeling that way from early childhood. I
    believe it is that feeling that drives us to continuously seek knowledge and
    answers to the unknown. I hope my boys come to feel the same someday, and pass
    it on to their children as well. How boring it would be to exist in a time when
    there were no more questions and everything that could be done had been done.

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