But specks in the void

A revolution in human consciousness was realised with the first pictures of Earth from space, including those taken from various Apollo spacecraft of a receding blue orb, and our planet rising above the lunar horizon.

Since then there have been many deep space missions, and yet more photos from afar of Earth. Despite their by definition lack of content, these pictures never cease to amaze and inspire me. Take the latest, of Earth and Moon, from NASA’s Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft…

Earth and Moon from the Juno spacecraft, 26 August 2011
No more than a few white pixels on a deep black space, and they fire my imagination.

Talking of imagination, the Blessed Richard Dawkins has a new book to flog, and did so yesterday on Newsnight. I tend to be scathing about talking heads who pop up on public service television to hawk their literary wares, but that is partly out of jealousy, and I certainly don’t begrudge Dawkins, introduced by Jeremy Paxman as “the world’s most celebrated atheist”, his appearances on the devil’s lightbox. Especially when the project is one such as a book on the magic of reality…

“You can make up any number of stories that are comforting, but the truth has some value as well… Science is more exciting, and more poetic.”

I was glad to see Dawkins acknowledge and celebrate the positive power of literary myth. It was a good interview on Newsnight, but I would very much like to see Dawkins and other scientists debate the issue and form a fighting alliance for truth with writers, artists and teachers.