Today I listened to the auroras at Jupiter’s north pole, and then I stood on the surface of Mars and peered upward, through its thinner atmosphere, at the sun.
Wow. Even though I’ve listened to that at least a dozen times today, I am still awed by the magnitude of what I am listening to. Here, on planet Earth, I am listening to the aurora on Jupiter. I am listening to the Northern Lights on a planet that is 588,000,000 kilometers away, the gas giant of our solar system (excluding the sun, of course!). The enormous, beautiful Jupiter. The one that everyone recolors blue and slaps it in other solar systems when they need to show us a visual of what an exoplanet that is a gas giant may look like. That Jupiter.
Today, I heard its aurora.
It’s hard not to be humbled by such enormous things, to be firmly reminded of my own insignificance, but to also be totally okay with that. Because I am Jupiter. The same star that died and gave birth to Jupiter died and gave birth to me. Just as Jupiter stepped out of a supernova, so did I. And just as Jupiter will always exist in one form or another, even if scattered across the universe into unfathomable numbers of particles, so will I–dead and decayed, diffused through the rest of existence, the illusion of sentience created by these molecules that form me broken. I am nothing, and, because of that, I am everything.
And let us not forget that I stood on the surface of Mars and stared up at the distant sun, immediately noticing how much smaller that glowing orb was, and taking careful note that the sky was not blue.
Sorry to send you to another place. I wouldn’t begin to know how to put that panoramic 360^360 image on here.
It is worth the trip, though, to make the trip to Mars, to stand on the surface of a distant planet and look outward.
It’s a shame you can’t see Earth in any of the pics, of course, because that would be a mindfuck, to sit on one planet while using technology to stand on another planet and look back at the planet you’re sitting on, and that’s possible using software like Celestia. Celestia, however, has nothing on this. Don’t get me wrong: Celestia is great, as it allows you to view parts of the solar system and other solar systems, distant stars–it allows you to stand on Neptune and look back at the sun, a distant glowing star not a great deal bigger than other stars.
My fellow humans, all we have to do is put aside force, violence, and coercion, and we can explore all of this stuff.
We are offering you an easy solution. It requires almost no effort from you. You don’t really have to change your behavior. And the reward… The reward is cooperation and the exploration of space. Look what awaits us out there! And we can’t put aside our stupid squabbles here on Earth? What do you mean, we don’t have the resources to send a manned mission to Mars? Shouldn’t pretty much every resource be dedicated to that? Shouldn’t we be working together to explore Proxima Centauri?
Yes, yes we should.
Why aren’t we?
Because of states. Because we have so much violence, force, and coercion getting in the way. We won’t work with one another, because we’re too obsessed with forcing our way onto everyone else. And the state is the mechanism that allows us to do that. The state is how we attempt to force compliance from China, Russia, India, and everywhere else, and how they attempt to force compliance with us. The state is how you attempt to force compliance with your morality of other Americans, and it’s all just completely unnecessary.
All it takes is one decision. No effort, no work. Just one simple decision to stop using force, violence, and coercion to solve problems.