13 November 2016

Supermoon and contemplating order out of chaos

Journey of the Universe describes the evolution and unfolding of life on Earth as being “nested” in the larger processes that preceded and accompanied it. Trace the formation of the human back through Earth processes. How does this shape your understanding of the human story?

One of the things that most captured my attention and surprise in this week's readings and videos was the creation of the moon. They described how the moon was created because of the collision of a Mars-sized body into the Earth. Being molten, the Earth absorbed the vast majority of the body but a ring of lava formed around the Earth. This ring eventually cooled into a ball that we now call the moon.

And now, the Earth and life on earth is so dependent on the moon. Its influence on our oceans and bodies of water create a mutable edge between dry and wet, between sea life and land life. The moon reminds us of how much change can exist even in stability.

When I lived in Togo, the moon was a much more important part of my life. I lived in a village with no electricity - the silver light of the full moon meant that I could go enjoy the night market in the center of the village without worrying about stumbling home. It extended the day for those three days every month, giving us more work, play, study time before sleep.

Tonight is a supermoon. The moon orbits the Earth in an oval pattern which means that sometimes, the moon is carried much closer to the Earth than we are used to. A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with that close orbit. It means that to our eyes, the moon looks 30% bigger than it normally does. It's pretty magical. I remember one supermoon in high school that was so bright and gorgeous that my friends and I laid out in a grassy field just watching it for hours. (If you are in the Americas, you should look for the supermoon tonight)

I think that the formation of the human is fascinating to consider in the process of the formation of the moon. The destruction of the colliding "planetisimals" was the spark for the creation of the moon. There was no plan, but there was opportunity. It is similar for the creation of humans. There was no plan to create humans, but there was opportunity. Out of the chaos emerged patterns. In difficult circumstances, some life forms thrived and others did not. Eventually, the patterns brought forth humans.

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