Absolutely the most wonderful thing about science is the unknown. When the universe throws us a curve ball, and displays something unexpected, we gain an opportunity to learn and grow. Over the past two days the primordial comet ISON has keep our attention as it screamed past the sun, appearing first to perish in the Sun’s unyielding power, and then surprise and delight us with it’s triumphant return on the other side. For the time being it seems that this time, Icarus braved the Sun and came through with wings intact.
It remains to be seen how much of ISON has survived, and how bright it may or may not be in our sky as it travels back away from the Sun. But these are just more mysteries for us to solve, and that is what makes science a truly satisfying endeavor. The fact that we don’t know the details, that ISON surprised us with changes hour by hour yesterday and today, makes the comet a perfect example of the beauty of science. It is the unknown that keeps us excited and on the edge of our seats waiting for the mystery to unravel. Whatever the outcome, ISON will have much to teach us about the outermost reaches of our solar system.
The solar system, and indeed the whole of the universe, is full of wondrous things waiting to be discovered. The universe has a way of disrupting our confidence in our knowledge, keeping us humble in the face to the vast unknown, and that is what makes the whole experience worthwhile.
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