Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting Lost In Infinity

It is time to revisit another of my essays for the Baen Books website, “The Size Of It All,” in which I discuss the sheer scale of the observable universe.  To summarize, IT IS HUGE.

But HUGE does the universe a disservice.

I was reminded of this the other night when I was in my front yard stargazing – and sighting some magnificent shooting stars during the Perseid Meteor Shower.  As I sat in my favorite camping chair gazing at infinity, I once again drifted into one of my more common daydreams – reproduced here from my Baen essay:

“One of my favorite daydreams is also one of my scariest. When I am outside on a clear, cloudless night, I like to imagine that I am on a spaceship in the deep between the stars, looking out at the vastness of the universe. During this daydream, I often fondly recall my favorite science fictional spaceships – the Enterprise (Star Trek Classic, of course!), the Drusus (from the pulpish German language serial Perry Rhodan), or the Nostromo (Alien) – and wonder what it would be like to be truly in the middle of deep space, far from Earth and our familiar solar system. My thoughts alternating between the wonder of it all and the terrifying thought of what it would be like to be stranded there, so far from home.”

For me it was an almost spiritual moment and one I wish more people could share.  So go outside on a night with clear skies and let yourself get lost in infinity.  I think you’ll find it exhilarating (and, yes, a little scary).

Les Johnson                                        

co-author (with Ben Bova) of Rescue Mode - coming in paperback this September from Baen Books

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