Optimism and the Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula (click for larger image)

When I see a photo like this my impulse is a pessimistic one: to say that against a cloud bigger than our minds could ever comprehend we don’t matter. Not at all!

It’s our very perspective that brings us to that conclusion, one which invites us to subvert it. Take another look. We’ve seen those clouds before – the lines as malleable as they are intricate, the ghoulish blend of black into green through which modest lights pierce. And they’ve been found on earth in their own forms, be it the aurora borealis or that piece in the Tate or a field: it’s a description that after all fits into the English language. This thought that a gas cloud 26 light years wide can be captured and compared with what we see everyday is, I think, an optimistic one: although we shouldn’t forget how incredible the universe is, it should not be used to make us feel tiny and insignificant.  We define it!

How promising.

(About the Orion Nebula from Slate here.)


8 Comments on “Optimism and the Orion Nebula”

  1. A frontier yet unexplored. Not at all unimaginable. Not unamable. Not untamable. Simply not here.

    • Mark says:

      Exactly! The fact that we don’t fully understand something is not to say we should be diminished by it. Simply more to explore. Thanks for putting it so well.

  2. Steve Morris says:

    My instinct on seeing this is towards optimism. To think that probably no other intelligent life has ever seen this sight before us. And to think that we can look at it and apply our knowledge to understanding it and our imagination to appreciating it’s beauty. It makes me feel hugely optimistic.

  3. mrhugo2013 says:

    I totally agree. I hate it when scientists especially say that we are significant in the scheme of things. When I look at this picture it captivates me.

  4. […] on an optimism high; humour me. I’d like to add some thoughts from a recent conversation I had with a fellow […]

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