Thursday, July 21, 2016

WEEK 5: Space & Art

Life on of Earth is the exception in the mass universe of darkness. With planets being named after gods, there is an ethereal quality to space. It’s no wonder man has turned to the cosmos for answers to the most pressing introspective questions. The Renaissance marks increases in understanding of the universe with Nicolaus Copernicus’ 1530 proposal of a heliocentricity. The seventeenth century saw the creation of the first telescope. Medieval astronomers were able to calculate orbits, study the stars, and gain knowledge of the world around them.
Copernicus' proposal of a heliocentric universe. Previously it was thought that Earth was stationary at the center of the universe and the planets, sun and moon revolved it. Copernicus proved in mathematical detail that this wasn't the case.

However, post World War II, there was a paradigm shift following the creation of the atomic bomb and the start of the Cold War. An arms race ensued, a competition to see who could claim space and capitalize on its potential. Russia launched Sputnik, the first satellite, which sparked American interest in space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created and science and math education increased in schools. This era also marks technology being driven by politics; an understanding of space was desired, but it was subordinate to be ahead of another nation – an interesting change considering the intentions of space exploration during the Renaissance. Though Russia was first to send a man into space, it was the US who claimed the moon.

Sputnik was the first satellite. Featuring a polished sphere, the beach ball sized creation revolutionized space exploration.

"One small step by man, one giant
 leap for mankind" - Neil Armstrong
Recently space exploration has experienced another shift: a movement from the public to the private sector. Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, intends to commercialize space travel – and has, although with a hefty price tag of $200,000 per flight. Talk of a space elevator is also relevant, using carbon nano-ribbons to connect man to space. Space exploitation is an up and coming field and also a source of ethical debate. Asteroids contain precious metals which could be mined – 
could space be the next location of industrialization?

Could space travel become the norm? Will we vacation to
the moon or go sight-seeing on asteroids?
Despite exploration and commercialization, I question whether we’ll ever be able to process the immensity of our universe. IBM’s “Powers of Ten” illustrates the expanse by zooming out 10x the current magnification every ten seconds, up to 100 million light years away. There is an infinite amount to explore. We occupy an implausibly small corner of endless darkness and the extent of technology to understand this new frontier is amazing. However, I hope we never forget the artistry of life on Earth which is unique in its own way – we live on a blue planet that orbits a ball of fire in an ocean of stars. I wonder how our perception would change if we considered the miracle we are currently living.

"Copernicus." BBC History. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.

"Medieval & Renaissance Telescopes." Australia Telescope National Facility. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.

"Hubble Telescope." NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.

Templeton, Graham. "60,000 Miles Up: Space Elevator Could Be Built by 2035, Says New Study | ExtremeTech." ExtremeTech. N.p., 06 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 July 2016.

"Virgin Galactic, the World's First Commercial Spaceline." Virgin Galactic. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2016.

Eames Office. "Powers of Ten™ (1977)." YouTube. YouTube, 26 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 July 2016.

Hypothesis Copernica. N.d. Minima Maxima Sunt. 20 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 July 2016.

Sputnik - Engineering a World First. N.d. Science Museum. Web. 21 July 2016.

Neil Armstrong Moon Landing. N.d. Stuff TV. 20 July 2015. Web. 21 July 2016.

Virgin Galactic. N.d. The Telegraph. 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 July 2016.

Vincent Van Gogh on Stars. N.d. Quotes Valley. Web. 21 July 2016.

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