UNI­VERSE: EX­PLOR­ING THE AS­TRO­NOM­I­CAL WORLD

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Books - By Paul Mur­din

En­closed in to­tal dark­ness, save for the soft out­line of our own blue planet curv­ing far be­low, a man in a puffy white space suit free-floats through space. The black is so deep and end­less, and the earth from that van­tage point so alien, that he looks pos­i­tively in­con­se­quen­tial. He could be a bug.

The im­age isn’t a still from a science fiction film but a NASA pho­to­graph of Bruce Mc­can­d­less on Un­teth­ered Space­walk taken in 1984 be­fore the Manned Ma­neu­ver­ing Unit — a ver­i­ta­ble jet pack — was dis­con­tin­ued due to its ob­vi­ous risk. The pho­to­graph is pro­foundly evoca­tive of hu­mans’ re­la­tion­ship to space — our vul­ner­a­bil­ity, our will­ful ex­plo­ration. In Uni­verse it joins other such images of the cos­mos — some just as lit­eral, oth­ers acts of imag­i­na­tion — cre­ated over mil­len­nia.

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