Some of you might wonder what that is, some of you might easily guess. Its an image from outer space. The first thing that came across my mind when I saw this picture was of three puppies standing on their back feet. The list is endless, pick your fancy it can be anything you want it to be. But if you keep on doing that you will only manage to fit this eerie, somewhat disturbing image in a comfortable, familiar mental category. And you will miss, by far, the scale of what is represented in this image.
Let me first give you some facts – or to be more precise what we believe to be facts. These dark pillar-like structures are columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust. They are incubators for new stars, where new stars are created. The largest one at the front of the picture is about one light-year (6 trillion miles) long. Now move your focus to the left-most column, start at the bottom and go all the way up, at the very top you will find a very small horn, inside these horn stars start their life. This ‘small’ horn is bigger than our solar system. Enough said.
Some of you might ask – what does it matter ? And that is a very relevant question. How does that affect our daily existence, an existence fraught with anguish and laughter – at it’s best ? Well, it does and it doesn’t. I simply see it as a reminder of the absolute insignificance of what we come to believe – in our tunnel vision existence – as the purpose and goal of life. Don’t worry, I am not an evangelist, nor am I a new religion advocate, actually both repel me to a certain extent. I just admire the beauty and power of what we are yet to understand, yet to grasp, yet to comprehend. A day might come when I see these formidable columns again without the image of three cute puppies popping in my head. But is it possible, is it possible to experience such a thing without recourse to every day mental representation ?