The cool people at TED have graciously and enthusiastically allowed me to use many of their high-rez images from the TED talks in the Presentation Zen book (which looks like it is still on track for a Dec 17th release). I'll be using some images of Sir Ken Robinson, Al Gore, and many others. I am using two images of planetary scientist Carolyn Porco who gave a wonderful 18-minute talk on the Cassini voyage to Saturn. The images I have of her on stage at TED picture her with her arms open, eyes forward and totally engaged with her audience and the topic. I thought she did an excellent job. Good, appropriate visuals, and a good example of connecting with the audience. At one point she even got a bit emotional surprising even her self. And that's OK. Let it all hang out. And why not? The Cassini voyage to Saturn is absolutely amazing stuff, though you'd hardly know it from the popular media. The point Dr. Porco makes about the importance of these discoveries is well made. Why we don't celebrate these kinds of remarkable scientific achievements which demonstrate, among other things, that nations can indeed work together for incredible good is very odd. (Is it our short attention spans that causes the news programs to feature stories of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears et al. but not the incredible achievements of professionals like Dr. Carolyn Porco or Sir Martin Rees (see his TED video presentation) who have far more interesting and important stories to tell?) Watch the TED video below of Dr. Carolyn Porco or go here for download options.
Now here (above) is a great photo. Kind of makes you feel pretty small doesn't it? And this was taken from "only" about a billion miles away from Earth. I have printed this high-rez photo of Saturn (with Earth visible) and put it on my wall to serve as a personal reminder. To remind me, for example, of just how small my own little problems are in the whole scheme of things. To remind me too of how silly and destructive attachments are to the things which are ultimately quite inconsequential. We don't usually think of our world from another perspective. We don't usually think of Earth as just another dot in the distance among many other shiny dots. You can imagine Earth being like that, but once you see a photo of our home—the only home we've got—taken from over a million miles on the other side of the enormous planet of Saturn...well, I don't know how you can look at that photo and ponder its significance and not be changed. That's a pretty special tiny blue dot (to us anyway). When I look at this image of Saturn and Earth I am reminded of a line from the famous Aikido instructor Kensho Furuya-sensei: "Human beings are great in their own eyes, but are not much in the eyes of Nature." When you look at Earth from this perspective it kind of makes you want to take better care of it and treat it with more respect.
High-rez images of Saturn from Cassini.