A Scale Model of the Solar System in the Nevada Desert? Yes, please.

The human mind did not evolve to be able to grasp the vastness of interplanetary distances. It’s just not something that our ancestors had to factor in to survive, so there was no need for the capability to develop.

Thankfully, we have wonderful people like the team who put this short film together to help us out. Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet created a scale model of the solar system in the Nevada desert, including the orbits of the planets, with an earth the size of a marble as the starting point. Even with an Earth this small, a scale model of our solar system requires seven miles of empty space. Seven miles. Just think about that for a second…

Anyway, I can’t explain it any better than they can. Check it out, and afterwards, just take a moment to ponder the staggering smallness of humanity:

To quote Carl Sagan,

I believe it is true that humility is the only just response in a confrontation with the universe…

I noticed that they thank him in the credits. I think he would have loved what these guys have done here.

When asked in the comments on their youtube page, the team responded that a scale model of an atom was “already in the works.” I can’t wait to see it!


Hearing Color – Cyborgs and Transhumanism

music-599383_1280Check out the TED talk below, featuring the fascinating Neil Harbisson, a cyborg and cyborg activist.

Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a rare disorder where one is completely color blind. This isn’t red-green blindness, which occurs much more commonly in populations. Harbisson sees the world entirely in grey.

However, working with a cyberneticist, Harbisson helped to design an antenna-like “eye” that plugs into the back of his head. The eye senses colors, then converts the light frequencies into sound frequencies, which Harbisson perceives through bone conduction. He can, quite literally, hear color.

Continue reading “Hearing Color – Cyborgs and Transhumanism”

Wanderers – Short Film

Here’s an incredible short film called “Wanderers” by Erik Wernquist. It features the voice of Carl Sagan, pulled from his book, The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of The Human Future in Space.

This video captures the positive, uplifting attitude that characterized so much of Dr. Sagan’s life and work, along with the awesome possibilities that our future might hold.

I think Sagan had the right idea. He understood that science contains within it a union of intellect to awe. It offers us a rational, evidence-based understanding of reality–and that understanding almost inevitably leads to awe in the face of such a vast, cold, and beautiful cosmos.

There is little chance that we will reach new worlds anytime soon. We might set foot on Mars in the next 20 years, but humans will largely remain contained here on Earth for quite a while yet. Yet we can have hope. That awe and that hope is what Carl Sagan taught so many people who love science–myself included. With hard work and some luck, all that hope might one day be fulfilled, many generations from now when humans live and thrive somewhere so far away from Earth that the pale blue dot is no longer even visible.

SD Comic-Con 2015 The Martian Panel

Here’s the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Martianthe film version of Andy Weir’s bestselling novel, directed by Ridley Scott.

The panel consists of Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science; Todd May, the manager of NASA’s space launch system; Victor Glover, a NASA astronaut; and, of course, the author of the book, Andy Weir.

It’s great to see NASA engaging with popular culture, which is something I think The Martian has great potential to do. I’m glad NASA is working to emphasize that strength.

I haven’t had a chance to check out the whole video yet, but if there’s a moment you particularly enjoyed/learned something from, feel free to leave the timestamp below!