When the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring our view of the Sun, we witness a solar eclipse. It happens due to ‘crazy coincidence: the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but it’s also 400 times closer.’ This means that, from Earth, the Moon appears large enough to block our view of the Sun. The Moon does not cast a shadow over the entire Earth at once, but rather, is seen over a particular spot.
There is a chance that life on Earth is the rarest thing of all. But as we fly further away from home, we realise the Sun is simply one of the billions of stars that form the Milky Way Galaxy. Beyond the Solar System are worlds that orbit other stars (with rogue planets that answer to no star, roving between). The Kepler Mission estimates that 40 billion rocky, Earth-like exoplanets orbit stars like our Sun in our region of the Milky Way Galaxy. Is Earth perhaps not so special?
The only evidence we have of life existing in the entire universe is here on Earth. Using this as our starting point, we can define a range of potential locations in the universe that life could similarly emerge: a planet with all of Earth’s characteristics, orbiting a star with all of the Sun’s characteristics… while also acknowledging that life could also exist elsewhere, in other forms. So the question is: where is everyone?
A multi-disciplinary panel gathered to discuss what they see as inspirational for scientists, governments and communities to take action in response to COVID-19, devastating bushfires, and systemic racism and social unrest. Before the pandemic we were amongst the unbridled fires, lush landscapes were blistering, and communities came together to offer donations and support to rebuild towns that were destroyed. During the pandemic and in lockdown we feel as if we’re in a snow dome. Gaps in wealth, age, sex, age and disability became highlighted and people marched forcefully with thunder in response to social injustice. Once we emerge, we hope to have better communication with scientists and vigorously carve out a new equilibrium.