So, this past weekend, I watched this video. A few seconds in, I stopped it, turned off the lights, plunked on a pair of headphones, and then expanded the view to full HD mode. Then, under these conditions, I watched it fully.
It’s hard to explain but I found this video very moving. Moving for all sorts of reasons, I suppose. It was beautiful, the Earth was beautiful, but it was also an inspiring glimpse of much needed perspective. The Earth looked so small, especially when backdropped against the cosmos, and for reasons I can’t fully explain, the Earth also seemed so delicate – like it was obvious why we need to take good care of it.
Chalk it up to just another example of an interdisciplinary crossroad. Here we have footage that had a perfunctory scientific and technological basis, and yet some of the “data,” the “observations,” the footage that was collected, when translated by a skilled practitioner, clearly had a power beyond those acts of hypothesis generation and hypothesis support.
This is an interesting dynamic – how beautiful pictures, beautiful sounds, or beautiful words can inform the scientific endeavour, although it’s a dynamic that doesn’t appear to have a lot of research behind it. So maybe it’s worth taking a closer look? Or maybe not? After all, does looking too deeply, working out measurements or concocting algorithms to explain why I feel the way I feel when I watch this video, would this result in a loss of that wonderful perspective, or would it allow us to do it even better?
Video by Bruce W. Berry Jr. Image Courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. HT to @kejames.