Norma Jean: Further to Fly

Further To FlyThe April issue of National Geographic displays the newest photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Explora Science Center has these photos posted in case you can't find this issue. Pretty pictures, yes fellow humanoids, but more than sparkly exotic orbs, these photos are real jaw-droppers, even for science nerds.Haunted since seeing them, I find myself pondering these pictures several times a day, stretching my mind for a better grasp of earth history and our place in the scheme of things. You name it, all thought is affected by Hubble's eyeballing the big picture; as profound now as back when the populace of earth discovered it lived on a big ball that moved around the sun. Most American adults have trouble understanding how our earth rotates on its axis and orbits around the sun, secretly wondering why we don't just fly off. Published recently is the truely astonishing fact that 40 percent of Americans can't tell you how many days it takes for the Earth to make the trip around the sun. So, thinking in billions of galaxies, (not stars), and light years is beyond most of the population. Here's one startling fact that could alter your puny life concerns: Hubble was pointed at an area in the sky that appeared the most empty. Scientists focused on an area the size of a grain of sand held at arms length. I repeat, because I care... The telescope focused at a blank area of the sky the size of a grain of sand held at arms length. Got it? What came back were photos revealing 1,500 or so galaxies in that very empty part of the sky; not stars- galaxies, variations on the theme of our "Milky Way," (the galaxy we live in) which boasts 100 billion stars. Whoa... Maybe this awesome reality has you hankering less about when to purchase that new Jeep or whether to invest in CD's, IRA's or bonds. Road trip anyone? Fasten seat belts and bring your Ôblankie' and pillow because it'll take us, moving at the "speed of light,"(186,000 miles per second), 100,000 years to go from one end of the Milky Way to the other. "Are we there yet, daddy...?" . Imagine this expanse in that primitive mind of yours, that brain that only a few hundred years ago saw the earth as the center of the universe, and the moving sky filled with omnipotent gods. I promise that accepting the incredible shrinking you could change your life. Personal history, religious beliefs and the troubles at work deflate as the most puffed-up egos among us shrunk down to a an infinitesimal speck. The movie "Contact" attempts to address our ignorance and brings us up-to-date with scientific discovery, even using actual Hubbel footage. The absurd belief that we're alone in the universe, or that extraterrestrials look like insects or black-eyed bald babies is replaced by a deeper wonder.A Meteor shower is upon us August 11-14; an awesome opportunity to share with someone who's "open-minded, spiritual, loves camping & wishes on stars."Whoa... and the baby waves bye bye...The VoidMs Thompson,Regarding "Further To Fly," Thank You!Recently, I sat alone in a theater during a matinee showing of "Contact." While I was surrounded by others, the distances between us were much more vast than I could have imagined... these differences, the story in "Contact" points out are really so insignificant. But because we so unaware of the universe within ourselves, we never reach across the spaces between us... we never or rarely dare that. We might as well be 100,000 light years apart.After the film, in the protective darkness during the credits, I wept. I remembered when I spent a year in medical isolation separated from human contact. Once released it felt so strange to appreciate the simplest gestures... But .. it was much warmer than the sterile existence of isolation. Perhaps we have to place our beings in the context of the universe to realize the significance of one another and of ourselves. Then, whenever we hold a heart from the perspective of detachment and awe as opposed to "need," we'll be able to truly see the expansiveness of our love.Ms Thompson, I thank you for that commentary. It meant more to me than much of what I've read on human beings recently.Kristopher S. MorganDear Norma Jean,To contemplate the relativity of space and time can lead to question the essence of life. The recently deceased author and astronomer, Carl Sagan, dedicated the book, "Cosmos" to his wife Ann Druyan. The dedication reads, "In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie." Mr. Sagan had an unparalleled understanding of the universe in which he lived, yet he knew what really mattered most was to share with and share in the love of a good woman....I always look forward to reading your perspectives on the science of life and relationships. Keith.C.Dearest Men,I feel the sincerity of your letters and can't express enough how important it is for people to let our friends/family/co-workers know the ways in which they comfort us. Too often we take everyone in our lives, including our pets, for granted, and assume others know what they mean to us. I write out of my own puzzlement with the human condition, its myopic views and our difficulty loving. I write across the void to make contact. All this new scientific discovery has me vacillating between joy and despair; and like yourselves, feeling more alone. Mr. Sagan chose to share love and vision and years with a mate. With all he knew, he still placed great value on the needs of the human heart. I received many letters and phone calls, all from men, who confessed they were touched and inspired, and provoked to expansive thought by what they read in "Further To Fly."Needless to say, I felt fulfilled all week because I took the risk and shared my wonder at all these magnificent discoveries with whoever reads me.I need, and am very grateful for the feedback.

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