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Of Particular Significance

How Far We Have Come(t)

12 Nov 2014, 19:50 UTC
How Far We Have Come(t)
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It wasn’t that long ago, especially by cometary standards, that humans viewed the unpredictable and spectacular arrival of a comet, its tail spread across the sky unlike any star or planet, as an obviously unnatural event. How could an object flying so dramatically and briefly through the heavens be anything other than a message from a divine force? Even a few hundred years ago…
Today a human-engineered spacecraft descended out of the starry blackness and touched one.
We have known for quite some time that our ancestors widely maligned these icy rocks, often thinking them messengers of death and destruction. Yes, a comet is, at some level, not much more than an icy rock. Yet, heated by the sun, it can create one of our sky’s most bewitching spectacles. Actually two, because not only can a comet itself be a fabulous sight, the dust it leaves behind can give us meteor showers for many years afterward.
But it doesn’t stop there. For comets, believed to be frozen relics of the ancient past, born in the early days of the Sun and its planets, may have in fact been messengers not of death but of life. When they pummeled our poor ...

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