Monday, December 18, 2006

The scale of things - can you imagine?

Can we imagine?

Look at the pictures of stars and planets – Earth, the Sun, and Atares, Betelgeuse and some of the other planets in our solar system. We see the sun almost every day of our lives, rising in the east and setting in the west. We see our moon when the sun has set, and we see stars in the sky when it is dark enough and the sky is clear.

At other times, all we can see of space is the clouds above us. It is only when we rise above the level of clouds – on a plane, that we have the potential to see what is out there. We see with the naked eye, which is a feeble tool when compared with the Hubble telescope or the one at Jodrell Bank on the plains of Cheshire, in the UK.

Still, our eyes are what God has given us to see our world and the fraction of outer space our sight permits us to view. Man is indeed small in stature – even our Earth – mother to all life, is tiny compared with the red giants, stars, and even planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

And yet we have managed to tame and deal with a smaller world that is, in comparison, just as minute as we are to Betelgeuse; the world of biochemistry – the world within our world. Again, not able to be seen with the naked eye – viewed only by magnification and perhaps even then not properly seen.

Microbes that can cluster in their thousands – even millions on the head of a pin – living cells that can kill us, blind us, send us insane, make us desperately ill, but which, oddly enough, can help to keep us alive.

Man has scaled the highest mountains, scoured the wildest places on our planet, stood on the moon, and delved into the microscopic world of science. We have theorized when we did not know, speculated in advance of obtaining anything like objective, accurate or reliable knowledge - and understood activity in molecules that cannot be seen without special equipment. In short, man has come to understand a world almost beyond our imagination – out there in space, and inside our own bodies and all around us.

What man has not been able to do is account for the wonder of life on Earth. We know what a molecule of DNA looks like – we can identify which part of the double helix is responsible for our illnesses, our foibles and our faults, but can we say what life really is – can we say with any great degree of certainty what makes each and every one of us different – physically, mentally, linguistically, and psychologically.

It has been said that our appearance on Earth is comparable to the last sentence in a mighty volume of words - scrapings on our nails as we stretch both our arms wide right and left – that we cannot even closely imagine time in its vast geological sense, and yet we know how something that cannot be seen reacts with something else that cannot be seen. We know how chemical elements combine to form familiar substances like salt, water and air – we know how metal rusts and milk turns sour – and we understand why.

By dint of our imagination, and our mental abilities, learnt from our birth, inherited – certainly, but added to and developed, we have looked inside and outside the ball we call our world, and we have stood tall and equal to the mightiest of the mighty – the largest of the large, and the tiniest of the infinitesimal and understood what it is we have been looking at.

What a piece of work is man, and a credit to our Creator!
Robert L. Fielding


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home