"We are also alone among animals in being able to say
before we die: Yes! This is why it was worth coming to life in the first
place!" - R. Dawkins
Words: R. Dawkins, 'Unweaving the Rainbow'.
Video: SpaceRip, 'Is the universe infinite?', HOME & Planet Earth.
Music: Sigur Ros, 'Hoppipolla'.
We can get outside the universe. I mean in the sense of putting a model
of the universe inside our skulls. Not a superstitious, small-minded,
parochial model filled with spirits and hobgoblins, astrology and magic,
glittering with fake crocks of gold where the rainbow ends. A big model,
worthy of the reality that regulates, updates and tempers it; a model of
stars and great distances, where Einstein's noble spacetime curve
upstages the curve of Yahweh's covenantal bow and cuts it down to size;
a powerful model, incorporating the past, steering us through the
present, capable of running far ahead to offer detailed constructions of
alternative futures and allow us to choose.
"Only human beings guide their behaviour by a knowledge of what
happened before they were born and a preconception of what may
happen after they are dead; thus only humans find their way by a light
that illuminates more than the patch of ground they stand on."
-- P. B. and J . S. Medawar, The Life Science (1977)
The spotlight passes but, exhilaratingly, before doing so it gives us time
to comprehend something of this place in which we fleetingly find
ourselves and the reason that we do so. We are alone among animals in
foreseeing our end. We are also alone among animals in being able to say
before we die: Yes, this is why it was worth coming to life in the first
"Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight
with no pain. While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad In such an
-- John Keats, 'Ode to a Nightingale' (1820)
A Keats and a Newton, listening to each other, might hear the galaxies