Searching for an edge has led the subject of this drawing to break free from the surface and enter the heavens. Although some of the symbols appear medieval, this work comes from an 1888 book on Meteorology titled, L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (“The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology”).
I first came across this image while searching on Open Clip Art. I was astounded by the fine details embedded in this work. There are three faces: the explorer, the sun and moon, which all look in different directions. The outlines of a village blend into the surrounding hills – I assume the explorer left from this town. The wheel within a wheel undoubtedly references Ezekiel’s vision of God’s chariot. The enormous tree that shadows the village and all its surroundings indicates another potential religious reference to the Kabbalah’s tree of life.
The biggest mystery around this work is who made it. There is no marking from the illustrator on the art or in any reputable source. I cannot imagine that somebody would create a work of such detail and depth and forget the attribution – so its absence may be intentional. Is the explorer a self-portrait of the drawing’s creator? What is this artist trying to say about man’s search for truth in the universe? Can this explorer ever return to the village behind him, or is his world now so spectacularly large that he must reach further into the heavens?
There was a window, perhaps from the 1950s to the end of the last century, when the dream of leaving earth’s orbit saturated children’s imaginations. With the last scheduled space shuttle voyage behind us, will future generations look to the stars to find their futures? The Flammarion engraving tells me that the quest for knowledge beyond our planet runs deep within the human spirit. The question is not if we will resume human space flights, but where we will explore next.
Two Canadian teenagers set out with the goal to capture images of the curvature of the Earth. They rigged up a camera and weather balloon and launched it into the upper atmosphere – with a lego man.
The lego man reached an altitude of 80,000 feet. (As some have pointed out, this is technically near-space. The lego man was never in “orbit” either.) After the balloon popped, the lego man and the camera fell back to Earth. The lego man was discovered in tact.
I love the light hearted approach of this project. After seeing a Lego store in Chicago last week, I vividly remembered the sense of fun Legos brought to me as a kid. If you want to learn more about the project or see some of the other images, I suggest checking out their facebook page.
There were at least a few people were stranded in unfamiliar hotels near Detroit Metro Airport due to the solar storm. Delta, United, and other major airlines diverted flights due to the largest solar flare in six years.
It is easy to forget that the other bodies in our solar system have their own weather patterns. This is at least partially because of their irrelevance: the atmospheric conditions on Jupiter and Venus have no impact on life on Earth. The sun is the exception. With a single event, radioactive particles are flung fast enough to escape the sun’s immense gravitational pull.
Even though this week’s solar storm was weaker than originally estimated, the ejected matter reached speeds of 4,000,000 miles per hour. This discharge can cause electrical arcs on communications satellites, increase the speed of orbiting space junk, and cause auroras to appear at high latitudes.
Rare astronomical events also have a tendency to attract some superstitious behaviors. There appears to be some division within the paranormal “investigation” community as to the effect of these events. In one camp, many of these folks are using high sensitivity equipment to detect spirits, and they believe energy from the solar flare enhances the spirits ability to communicate with our world. Opposed to them are the people realize that the electromagnetic interference caused by solar flares is just interference.
Ghosts or no ghosts, our planet is not an island. I have immense respect for the scientists and astronomers who are working to understand how our universe is woven together. It’s events like this – however insignificant they might feel – that show how interconnected we are with the unimaginably vast sea of space.