Goat Brains, Endeavor, and Bach in Space

“I don’t know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough” – Dick Feynman

While heading back home from university today, I caught a fleeting glimpse of two sheep side-by-side, eyes shut. I thought about whether or not animals dream when they sleep; It also got me thinking about how I perceive my environment. So here I was, looking at another species of the animal kingdom that came with a brain, but it was spectacular to think that I could conceive their existence and they couldn’t do the same. I was self-aware, conscious of most of my own actions, had aims and goals and hobbies and so on and so forth. The sheep in contrast will live an instinctive life, subject to the whims of its grey matter, going wherever its brain wants it to go, eating and reproducing for reasons unknown, and in its last stages, simply fade away. We humans are remarkable because apart from attempting to survive and reproduce for reasons unknown, are also capable of asking the ‘why?’. You can ask your brain what its thinking right now and find that it is able to respond. What’s even more remarkable is that when viewed through a microscope, its simply a collection of unthinking, unaware mass of cells ‘doing’ something.

That’s what a science lover sees. A photographer/artist will probably look at a goat and see something else entirely. But it won’t be any less remarkable.

I think a lot of us (I’ll include myself in the set) are losing a very integral part of what makes us human. We’re excited less by the things around us; scream a little less when we’re excited about seeing something new. Ask how or why something works even less. Even more frightening is how most of us have little appreciation for the works of others.

There are so many wonderful people out there doing so many wonderful things, its hard to not get overwhelmed by the surge of interactivity and their unwavering determination. Its awe-inspiring. How can you not want to follow in their footsteps?

Parallel Parking Level: NASA. Space Shuttle Endeavor(to the left), seen ‘docked’ to the International Space Station, orbiting at a speed of ≈ 7.7 km/s, ≈ 400 km above the surface of the Earth. Yep, the ‘parking’ was done in exactly those conditions. The ISS is arguably the single most expensive item ever constructed.

The bookshelf depicts a volume of books of rather special importance. Appropriately named the Human Genome.

And this is what’s inside the volumes. Us. A particular sequence of four proteins. There are approximately 20,500 genes in human beings, the same range as in mice. What’s different about us?“To the makers of music – all worlds, all times”. Cover of the Voyager Golden Record, placed aboard both of the Voyager Spacecrafts, launched in 1977 by NASA. Their life expectancy was to be four years. Its been 40 years, and they’re still going strong. What’s included in the records are a 116 images and a variety of natural sounds from Earth, should any life forms come across them. A symbol of our existence. To quote Optimus Prime: “We are here. We are waiting”.

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