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The Universe is Pocked

By Carl Zimmer
Mar 3, 2008 1:49 PMMay 21, 2019 5:34 PM
universe pocked


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"Backstory: my parents met at a wedding on July 20, 1969, a very important date in the annals of human scientific achievement - the night humans first set foot on the moon. All my life, I have had a fascination with the moon not just as a tangible, graspable place (science fiction made real) but as a symbol for what the human race can achieve when we apply the best abilities of the best minds."

Carl: The moon was science's first glimpse of cosmic imperfection. For centuries, natural philosophers declared the heavens to be beyond decay and change. Everyone could see that the mooon was irregularly colored, but they explained it away in various ways--perhaps the reflection of the Earth itself, or the glint of sunlight bouncing off of celestial vapors. But when Galileo turned his telescope towards the moon, he saw clearly the moon's pock-like craters, changing with the shifting shadows. The moon is not timeless, but mature, its battered face the sign of experience; astronomy no longer has the purity of mathematics, but the fascinating quirks of biography.

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