By James Wadman
If you had removed a bristle from van Gogh’s paintbrush, would it have impacted his work? If you removed a single gigapixel from the masterpiece of our universe, would we miss it? These ideas sank in as I peered into the depths of the Andromeda galaxy, thanks to Hubble’s newest phenomenal snapshot of our universe. The pixels got smaller and smaller, the likelihood of life existing in our neighboring galaxy seemed to multiply, and my sense of wonder was enlightened. It truly makes me step back and enjoy acknowledging the opportunity we have here on earth, our temperate little patio with a spectacular view.
Are we significant? Who are we to the universe? A bristle of a paintbrush? A pixel? Our significance does not lie in our size, for we are minute creatures in a vast universe. Our significance lies in our capacity, and our capacity is infinite. If our role in the universe is to stay collectively focused on the earth, dancing amuck cycles of artificial fiascos occupied by the lethal concoction of intolerance and apathy, then perhaps we will only ever be the missing bristle in the paintbrush of a masterpiece. If we can transcend our understanding of humanity beyond the mundane and disastrous and allow ourselves to be naturally inspired by the stars instead of hiding them behind the curtains we build to distract ourselves from wonder, then the legacy that we leave behind will be one that shapes this masterpiece.