Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cosmic Crescendo

First you leap, then you grow wings.

William Sloane Coffin
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Hello Vienna, Austria
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First there was a primitive man stepping out from his cave and contemplating a bright light in the sky. It seemed to have some control over life so soon he and his buddies began to worship it. They gave it a name and as paganism arose it took on the persona of a goddess. Folks knew it was a goddess because they could see a face in it. But it was a fickle goddess, sometimes she was there, sometimes she wasn't and she came and went gradually.

Then came the scientists, the astronomers with their telescopes trying to get a closer look at the goddess. With them it wasn't a goddess at all, but a planet. And since they could tell that it was moving around the earth. the earth must be the center of everything. That made biblical sense, so people settled on that for a long time.

But then some uppity scientists tried to suggest that the earth was not the center of it all. in fact it was just another planet like the one they were contemplating. And if that was so then what was the relationship, since the other one hung around all the time, or most of the time? And why did it come in gradually changing shapes? Some lunatic proposed the absolutely preposterous idea that it wasn't the planet itself that changed but the shadow of the earth on it. Now things were getting very confusing.

Then folks thought that if it was a planet like ours then maybe there was life on it. The only way to find out was to go there, but how could anyone do that?

Jules Verne wrote a book about going there which depicted the travelers sitting aloft in a Victorian living room. Verne was a science fiction writer. Nobody was going to take it seriously.

But then with the improvement of air flight a few deluded souls did start to take it seriously and tried to think of ways to get there.

Rocket science was born and men tried with some success but mostly failure to put something up there into the vast area which, for want of a better name, we call "space."

Then there was sputnik.

Then there was Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

Then there was John Glenn, the first man in orbit.

Then there was the , Program and trips around to the goddess' backside.
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Then there was Neil Armstrong's "One giant leap."

I think the primitive man, peering out of his cave at the bright light in the sky, is pleased and proud that he himself took that "one small step."

DB - Vagabond Journeys
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Never Give Up
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1 comment:

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

It is amazing how views have changed over the centuries. Fun to wonder what people will think and discover 200 years from now.