Nothing inspires us quite like the sky. Birds flying, storms thrashing, stars glimmering, and the knowledge of an infinite.
Today, the NASA’s New Horizons space probe completed its 3-Billion-mile 9-year trip. It raced past Pluto, snapping pictures like a kid with a camera trying to snag an image of the deer on the side of the road. Racing, you say? Why yes. At over 30,000 MPH.
Pictures, you say? Absolutely. The first ones should come in no sooner than 4-1/2 hours after the trip.
We’ve named the space probe New Horizons, because that’s what we seek. We’re after the unfamiliar gentle curve of a foreign body spinning through the space around us. We crave the dust and sights of something altogether other. We strive for somewhere’s sunrise, the familiar aching beauty of the inevitable path. For all planets, there is a sunrise. For all planets, a new horizon.
This marks human technological visitation of the last of the “nine planets” of our solar system. In little over 50 years, we’ve managed to extend our reach to every single planet within our grasp.
In consideration of the infinite, it’s easy to get lost and feel small. What purpose do I or these words serve when compared to the vastness of space and time? And infinity goes in either direction: the space, the expansion, the largeness of it all, and then down to the quantum, the insubstantial, the incomprehensibly small.
In reflection on the infinite, however, we take stock of what we have access to. When faced with the impressive depth and distance of the ocean, we sit down on the beach and play with pebbles. We try to understand what is within our reach so that we can only begin to fathom the complexity of the unreachable.
We see the impressive, terrifying depth of our universe, and we strive for the rocks nearby. We try to understand our pebbles, our Plutos and our moons, so that we can comprehend our infinity.