In the words of Douglas Adams, "in an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion." It's true. The universe is far too massive to be really grasped by our small and puny brains. What we can use, though, is a sense of perspective - that what we think is huge and sprawling isn't really so. Like Earth. I look forward to Virgin Galactic opening up the suborbital and, eventually, orbital tourism market, because what we need is for as many people as possible to have that new perspective on the planet - to be able to look out the window and see it as a single thing.
I took this photo from the window of an aircraft at cruise altitude, crossing the Rocky Mountains between Vancouver and Toronto. It's not high enough to see the curvature of Earth, but the way the sky fades to black is a reminder that the rest of the universe isn't far away.
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