Let there be light!
Bryn Celli Ddu, a neolithic burial site on Anglesey #Wales, is aligned to allow the sun to reach the back of the chamber at daybreak on the Summer Solstice.
Today, the sun will set on the longest day of the year at 9.26pm#SummerSolstice #midsummer #longestday pic.twitter.com/FpMcwnwzRi
— Mark Rees (@reviewwales) June 21, 2021
Pick your pole…
Expeditioners in Antarctica celebrate winter solstice with a plunge into icy waters pic.twitter.com/B7sZCZcADR
— The Sun (@TheSun) June 21, 2021
And for a cosmic start to the week, from the president-elect of the National Society of Black Physicists: We are (probably) not alone, but we aren’t liable to be chatting any time soon…
Analysis: Intelligent life probably exists on distant planets — even if we can’t make contact, astrophysicist says https://t.co/peQmF1Hwqw
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 20, 2021
… Regardless of the odds, the existence of intelligent life in the universe matters deeply to me, and to most other humans on this planet. Why? I believe it’s because we humans are fundamentally social creatures who thrive on connection and wither in isolation. In the past year, many of us felt the hardship of isolation as deeply as the threat of a potentially fatal infectious disease. Enforced seclusion during the pandemic tested the limits of our tolerance for separation and made us acutely aware of our interdependence with all life on Earth. So, it’s no wonder that the idea of a trackless universe devoid of intelligent life fills us with the dread of cosmic solitary confinement.
For a hundred years, we’ve been emitting radio signals into space. For the past 60 years, we’ve been listening — and so far, in vain — for the beginning of a celestial conversation. The prospect of life on other planets remains a profound one, regardless of our ability to contact and interact with them. As we await evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, I draw comfort from the knowledge that there are many powerful forces in the universe more abstract than the idea of alien intelligence. Love, friendship and faith, for example, are impossible to measure or calculate, yet they remain central to our fulfillment and sense of purpose.
As I head into my mid-50s, I look forward with an infinity of hope to the moment when humans will finally make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence — in whatever far-flung star system they may live, and in whatever century or millennium moment that momentous meeting may occur. Until that day, I have no doubt that generations of young humans around the globe will continue to stand watch, looking skyward with the same sense of amazement and wonder that intoxicated me as a young boy.