Thoughts on A Solar Eclipse in the Modern Day: How Far Have We Actually Come as a Species?

Thoughts on A Solar Eclipse in the Modern Day: How Far Have We Actually Come as a Species? August 25, 2017

This week with the solar eclipse we got to witness a celestial event only seen every few decades. I’d decided in advance I’d make an afternoon of it, full of scientific education and thrills, a father/son moment he’d remember the rest if his life. Even though I had a 12 hour night shift to pull in the Sleep Disorders Lab that night, I was up early enough to check my  son out of school by 11:30 and find a nice local park where others had gathered. Unfortunately, some of my plans were for naught, as I am finally coming to realize that, in my son’s eyes, I’m slowly but surely transitioning from being Superman to being that guy that’s embarrassing in front of the cool kids.

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NR

     For most of us not in the path of 100% totality of the eclipse (the part of the path where the moon covers the sun completely), especially those not old enough to really remember the last one, it was likely a disappointment how little it actually darkened outside. My particular location was at about 93%.  However, via the miracle of social media, I was able to see photos and videos of how drastically different it actually was under 100% totality. Until the day technology manages to affect all the senses ( Zod forbid the day that happens… can you imagine being to smell a post-game locker room pep talk?), I can only take the word of those in attendance about the sudden temperature drop that occurred.

Watching those videos got me wondering what things were like in ancient says, before we had science to tell us about such things in advance. I imagined some prehistoric man sharpening wooden spears of banging rocks together or whatever they did to pass the time back then- you know, just chilling outside his cave when suddenly the big ball of light in the sky went out.  I wondered what might have gone through this hypothetical man’s head. Did he think the world was ending? Was the Sun God angry? Was he glad for a reprieve from the heat (yay for A/C, am I right?). I imagine this man later going to talk to whoever served as his local shaman. Now of course, the old wise man was just as clueless as everyone else, but to save face concocted a story of how the darkness was evil, but in the end, the sun prevails.

I then imagined how as the generations passed, these stories were told over and over, evolving as they went along. At some point someone got the idea to anthropomorphize the light and the dark. Even further down the line, some shrewd fellow realized if he could control the narrative, he could control the masses.

And thus, I imagine, was born organized religion. Do this, don’t do that, strive to maintain good standing with the Light one or face the wrath of the Dark one.

Those were dark times, indeed. Aren’t we fortunate to live in times where scientific advancements have made those old mythologies obsolete? Wouldn’t it just be awful if we still had a modern day version of these shamans spewing their nonsense about things like a solar eclipse? Even worse, can you imagine these guys having control over our politicians??? Thank Zod that’s not the case. I’d hate to live in a world where people refused to believe scientists when they tell us about the dangers of climate change, vaccinations, or scoffed at the idea that the earth isn’t flat. I mean, seriously, can you imagine sharing in society with the type of person that could actually believe that solar energy could use up all the sun’s power? Or that there’s really no evidence for evolution

Luckily, those days are behind us and our leaders give scientific advancement the credit it’s due.

And lucky for me that satire is a viable form of venting frustrations.

 

Guest Contribution by Casey Thomaston

(Featured image via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

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