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Benjamin C. Kinney @BenCKinney
, 15 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
My next #SoCIA18 talk will be "Being Here: The Significance of Human Place in the Light of Astrobiology," by Sarah Reynolds!
What does "learning about what's out there" teach us about ourselves, here on Earth?
"How are we shaped/influenced by our places of origin and habitation" is not a new question! Just a new context here. Though now we need to distinguish between habitable, habit-worthy, and hospitable. How do qualities of a place & its (native) life relate to position in universe?
Physical and human geography have historically been grounded in astronomically-defined position: position was written in the sky! Measure your position in relationship to time/space coordinate system of stars (celestial sphere).
This also led to astronomical connection to Earth places. Sun's height in sky affects temperature range. Strabo (~64 BCE-22AD) talks about how astronomy, geometry, and heavenly bodies are critical to describe a country's features.
"The phenomena of the heavenly bodies" even affecting personal and political characteristics!
Roger Bacon placed a key role for astrology & geography in his efforts to use science in service of the church. This was oddly progressive: differences between people across the world wasn't about innate differences, but the influences of the local heavens!
The discovery of the New World changed these (European) ideas - affected their notions of what parts of the world were habitable. And Copernican decentering of Earth (as focal point, not superiority) changes context of comparison.
Neat side note: Copernican "enthroning the sun" meant decentering the messy, sloppy, painful Earth. Not at all anti-theological.
Telescope invention made new landscapes visible - and opened tons of debate about what features meant, and what was habitable.
Kepler's ideas included multiple POVs: universal harmonies and the value of shifting vantage points. What seems natural from one view (e.g. Earth's lack of motion) could be obviously untrue from others.
Kant has some weird early speculation, about why we are in the "middle" of variation range around the sun. More interestingly, he noted we don't know what it means to be "terrestrial" b/c we can't separate it - no counterexamples.
So, lots of complex ways in which humans relate to space, and how it affects our understanding of the world. "You Are Here" galaxy images are always wrong - we have no pics of outside of our galaxy! (They're either artistic imagination, or pics of Andromeda.)
Place is important to people. (Forced relocation makes people very angry!) Same idea when it comes to our relationship with the whole planet Earth!
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