Monday, July 22, 2013

Ten reasons why I'm constantly watching Science Channel space documentary series

  1. Context - No matter how dire or important or amazing or terrible things here on earth seem, it's good to be constantly reminded that we're just a Pale Blue Dot (like above), and we're one world in a solar system of eight (currently official) planets and who knows how many planetoids, one solar system out of hundreds of millions or more, one galaxy out of billions. We need the broader view to see that things that we're destroying ourselves over aren't really all that important and maybe we should all just cool our tits for a minute.
  2. Beauty - Everything out there is gorgeous. Like, the prettiest thing you have ever seen, and more beautiful than anything you could have thought of. Science is constantly bringing us more things that are beautiful in new and alien ways, and it's just wonderful to have a universe so full of unabated beauty.
  3. Knowledge - I firmly believe that no knowledge is forbidden and no knowledge is bad to have--all knowledge is enriching*. And because of that, I think that it's sort of a duty of a sentient, reasoning being to try to understand how everything works. On top of that, I'm a fact-collector. As a writer, you never know when you'll need to know something, and there's so much to know about space!
  4. Transcendent Experience - I'm not the least bit religious, but I am spiritual, and if you can't look at the stars and feel a little transcendent, I don't understand your thought processes. The more I know, the more it inspires Wonder of the big-W sort, the kind that people get from religions and dream-quests and stuff. I never understood the idea that science and religion are opposite things: science shows us how complex and strange and wonderful and beautiful the universe is, and why would anyone deny an all-powerful being of the skill to make something like this? Why would they assume they just automatically know how to build a universe from scratch better than what we can see and prove and grasp?
  5. Hope - We're constantly bombarded with how bad things are here on Earth. Whether this is a total truth or just a sort of zeitgeist idea of the truth doesn't really matter, but if we can find other worlds to live on, we can answer a lot of the problems we're faced with right now--overpopulation causing too much environmental damage and too much competition for resources? Move a chunk of population to another world. Go willingly, even. Giant asteroids coming too close and threatening all known life in the universe because we're basically it as far as we know? Move people out and around and spread out that life so that one cosmic event can't wipe it out. Progress leading us to the conclusion that one world is too small? Go out there and see what else there is!
  6. Ideas - I'm a specfic writer. There are piles of ideas just laying around in the sheer facts, not even getting into the speculation!
  7. Diversity - No matter how different one human is from another human, we're all basically the same if we look at other planets and starsystems and think about how life would be there. Also, if we think about living there ourselves, how different would that experience be from anything we could get here on the homeworld?
  8. The Future - Space is the next logical step. Or the second-next, if we decide to, like, colonize the oceans or terraform Earth first. We're a species with a genetically-enforced restlessness, a need to see what's over the next rise, to go there, to get used to it, to move on. There's little to no chance that we won't go into space eventually; I don't see why we can't own that and make the choice to do it before there's some desperate need to.
  9. Adventure - Anything and everything having to do with space is adventurous. 
  10. Weirdness - A planet made of diamond? Starlight letting us literally look back in time? A cloud of alcohol that formed on its own in the middle of the galaxy? The universe is packed with weirdness, and it's really just the flip side of Wonder.
And so I watch these videos and shows as often as I can. The ones by Brian Cox are especially wonderful, not just bare facts, but an appreciation that the universe is amazing and we need to pay more attention to this amazingness right before us.

Are there any shows you watch over and over again? Why? What do they move in you?

*It's the application of knowledge that can be good or evil. Just knowing something only expands your horizons.
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