A tale of two pictures

The earth rising over the moon, taken Christmas Eve 1968

Christmas can be a hectic time, office parties, catching up with friends and family, up early for Santa and and days spent visiting and being visited. It can also be a time for reflection.

With that in mind, allow me to present two pictures that give us a unique insight and pause for thought, to contemplate our place in the universe.

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Genesis – Is life really common?

Did life start in a warm little pond just as Darwin thought?

Scientists have made some tremendous advances in recent years. Biologists are discovering that life is not as delicate as we once thought. No matter where on Earth we look, we seem to encounter life. Hardy bacteria that can thrive in the harshest of conditions. From the extreme heat of thermal springs and deep sea hydrothermal vents to the harsh conditions found in nuclear reactors, bacteria and other microbes find a way to prosper. We have exposed bacteria to the harshness of space on the outside of the international space station, only to discover later that the bacteria hadn’t been killed off, but had survived the exposure and were able to grow again upon return to normal conditions.

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Back to the moon?

The Lunar Rover and Lander taken in 1972. When will we see man on the moon again?
The Lunar Rover and Lander taken in 1972. When will we see man on the moon again?

48 years ago this July, Apollo 11 blasted off on it’s three day journey to the moon. On July 21st 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon. Mankind looked on in awe. It was the dawn of a new era, heralding in what was to be a fantastic voyage of discovery that started with the moon, moved to Mars and beyond and eventually further into our solar system and perhaps even journeying to neighbouring star systems.

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The Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis as seen from 52 degrees North
The Aurora Borealis as seen from 52 degrees North

The past week has seen my phone emit a flurry of chirps, beeps and flashing LEDs. They have been alerts from Twitter or from an Aurora Watch UK app. Most of the them have been yellow alerts with the occasional amber alert, letting me know that there is a slim possibility of seeing the aurora or Northern Lights.

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Rogue space rocks

Asteroid impact
Someday, Earth will be in the way of a large asteroid as it orbits the Sun.

Every so often scientists announce that a large space rock or asteroid will pass within a couple of hundred thousand kilometres of Earth. The tabloid press proclaim a near miss and that we were lucky to dodge Armageddon. Headline grabbing stuff it may be, but the truth of the matter is, that it is only a matter of time until the Earth experiences an impact event when one of these asteroids makes it through our atmosphere and explodes with tremendous force creating significant damage.

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