The Audacity of Science to Teach Humanity

NASA-HS201427a-HubbleUltraDeepField2014–20140603

Its was truly going where no man has ever been before. A mission that started with faint hope of going right, with no framework to guide, went through a whole gamut of enthralling experiences for humanity far away. She was just another box of metal and fiber, floating through the pitch dark confines of space heading to a distant perch hundreds of light years away. Pregnant with Philae, she sailed, drifting with the cosmic winds, her destination a new hope for mankind. Rosetta was her name and like the famed Rosetta Stone her mission was to translate all that she saw and experienced orbiting a rubber duck like comet 67P- into scientific data bits back on her motherland, the Earth.

Right from the time she woke up from her comatose sleep as she neared her destination after a travel of around ten years, she awakened the whole of humanity. With the precision of a fine pilot she maneuvered into the right orbit, gave birth to Philae and sent her daughter to play on rocky terrain below; all the while watching over her like a cautious mother. When Philae landed, went into hibernation, woke up again and started talking to us back home, we earthlings broke into raptures of joy, unable to contain our ecstasy, we tweeted about the duo in frenzy.

Rosetta and Philae had just un-blinded us earthlings for the first time in a hundred years. They showed us that we earthlings are indeed bound together by the same threads of compassion, love and brilliance of mind and souls. All of us dreamed and wondered about alien life and origins of life. On a chunk of matter so far away from Earth, they demonstrated that we, the mankind were capable of working together and held the same hopes. They together took us on a scientific Odyssey that kept us tethered to each tweet and image that they beamed to us. They revealed the scope and realm of science, opening vistas of what humankind can achieve if we think as a single bloc.

What explains the huge followers that she gathered on social media? What were we looking for in all the images that she sent? What did Rosetta and Philae teach humanity?

By ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0-igo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41733207

The images that she beamed back while in orbit showed us the strange landscapes, the changes on surface as the comet moved towards and away from the sun. She showed us the structure of debris, that of the construction of this grand universe, that was 4.5 billion light years old, a point of time that we consider was closer to the formation of our universe. Through her eyes, we saw things that no mortal eyes could have ever seen so close. We peeped into time billions of years back and located about 500 million miles away from us.

Rosetta brought us to realize that we earthlings are just tiny specks in this universe- nano objects in the gamut of this universe. Even on that distant object so long back, life as we know here, was not visible to our eyes. Yes, all this curiosity is to know all about life, its origin, and if we have any contemporaries or ancestors in this limitless universe. She led us to discover elements and conditions within the comets core, that exceeded even the scientific communities calculations and celebrated science and modern technology unlike ever before.

Rosetta bridged humanity across differences of race, time, economic and religious divides. She became the universal unifier,if I could use such a word with your permission. She opened our eyes to the fact that science has the ability to get people together because it opens our mind to the eternal questions of life, the environment, and our place in this vast universe- those being inquiries common across different parts of the globe. Science unlike any other streams of thinking and research, taps our ability to see inwards and outwards at the same time. Through the strands of Genetics and through Hubble and Rosetta it brings us to face the questions of why are we here on this planet, how did we come to be, how long will we be here, are there others like us or dissimilar in other heavenly bodies and can we control life and may be achieve immortality.

If the purpose of religion and philosophy is to ponder upon the existential dilemma, the purpose of our lives, self realization, understand the grand design of a supreme force governing all that’s seen and unseen, the manifestation of life and its reasons- Science does that through an alternate pathway. Yes, its an alternate pathway like the alternate glucose pathway of metabolism. A pathway that can help humankind in getting away from the various chains that bind us into different compartments. It unshackles us from the pegs of political blocs, religious identities, economical tags and gender labels.

The human mind today more than ever needs a new pathway to enlightenment, to self realization and to tap in to the universal potential that can shape history of mankind for eons ahead, to liberate itself from the domains and compartments of beliefs and narrow alleys of religious hegemony. Science through its methods of self appraisal will get humanity to the same altar that the saints and pundits try to lead us to but without wars and guilt— of understanding whats the potential, reason, extent and purpose of life. When we travel through its long winding ways we will finally arrive at the same altar as what all religions and philosophers take us. In awe of a supreme force that governs all and our own minuscule ego just a small point in that unfathomable design we may stand.

Yes, as a method to self-realization and for understanding our consciousness, science out beats religion, philosophy, music and arts. Since no class or race of mankind can claim the authority of its beginning, it has no contraptions of geographical or territorial superiority or ownership. Science then becomes the unifier that we badly need when our economic and political leaders contrive to create divisions among populations. Rosetta and Philae in the course of their life showed us that human mind can create, inquire, translate and transcribe our thoughts together in the pursuit of a common good. We can rise above artificial divides and be enthralled by the larger beauty of the meaning of love and life.

By E. Kolmhofer, H. Raab; Johannes-Kepler-Observatory, Linz, Austria (http://www.sternwarte.at) — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6756468

When Rosetta quietly slid into the depths of the playground that Philae was supposed to explore, we earthlings couldn’t hide our tears. As seen on social media platforms the response from all corners of our planet, showed how much she had turned a darling of humanity in the course of her short life. The trove of treasures that she beamed back to us during that period will continue to enthrall and educate us about this universe, for many more years to come. The future space Odysseys have a point of reference now. Per chance, the remains of Rosetta will become a landmark in the space voyages of future generations. So long Rosetta and Philae, we thank you for your love and life, for bringing humanity together once again in these turbulent times.

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