Saturday, April 27, 2013

Now for something completely different...

What you are about to see (H/T NPR) is three years of the sun's life compressed into three minutes. NASA took two pictures a day of the sun from a satellite for three years and put those shots together in this video. It is wildly hypnotic and it gives you an idea of the violence just beneath the surface of the sun.

It also puts into perspective just how inconsequential we really are. Long before we started walking on our hind feet and making tools the cosmos did its thing and long after we kill ourselves off the cosmos will still be doing its thing.

Then we have this article from the BBC in which scientists estimate that over the next 200 years there will be one catastrophic collision with space debris every five to nine years. The debris we're talking about is all man-made: dead satellites, rocket booster stages and exploded fragments of both.

Apparently there are approximately 20,000 pieces of man-made space debris orbiting the earth that are big enough to be monitored - and somewhere around 500,000 pieces between 1cm and 10cm in length. All of these objects are travelling at speeds of several kilometers an hour.

And just why is there so much junk floating around in space? It's because through the lens of capitalism, since no one "owns" space, it is used both as a "highway" and as a giant trash can. It's the same attitude that has led to the pollution of lakes, oceans and the air we breathe. For, unless there is someone to charge rent for the use of space, there will be no incentive for anyone to clean up after themselves. Instead of viewing the commons as belonging to everyone and acting accordingly, those seeking profit look at the commons as belonging to no one with no consequences for trashing the place.

But, who cares, because by the time the consequences are felt, none of the folks responsible for the mess will still be around.

1 comment:

Functus Officio said...

Simply Awesome! Thanks for sharing Paul

Larry Standley