in case you didn’t already know this…i am a big nerd. i love science and shows about the universe and the cosmos. case in point – the other night i watched this NOVA show on PBS called earth from space.
Earth From Space is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth.
cool stuff huh?
well so i missed the first 30 minutes or so of the show, but i will tell you that the rest of the show was such an eye-opener. i mean i’m no dummy…i’ve taken college science classes. but in the course of the past 20 years i guess much of that data must have been replaced with other important knowledge such as how to clean red gatorade out of carpets and which wine pairs best chicken fried steak. or something.
anyway, as the description says, the show is about all these various forces on the planet and how they are all connected to each other. if this kind of stuff is totally boring, feel free to skip the bulleted list. i promise i won’t be offended if you’re not interested. or if you actually have a life and don’t have time to read it all. but…. if you are a nerd like me, here are a few of the things i found particularly interesting:
- underwater volcanic eruptions deliver vital nutrients which sustain and nourish enormous phytoplankton blooms. these microscopic organisms are the base of the food chain for all marine life and are the most important plant life on the planet.
- the amazon forest was once considered the ‘lungs of the planet’ but research now shows that it’s actually nutrients that are leached out of the soil in rainforest that travel into the amazon delta where they feed giant plankton blooms that can cover over 25,000 miles. and these microscopic creatures act like plants and absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. in fact, they are responsible for producing HALF of the oxygen on the planet.
- as lightning tears through the sky, it is literally ripping nitrogen molecules in half. they then combine with the oxygen in the air to create nitrate molecules which then get carried down to earth in the rain and thereby fertilize the soil.
- wildfires sped up the process of decomposition and return organic matter back to earth. they also create a layer of ash and highly fertile material in which seeds will germinate and grow.
really…you should watch it. an amazing perspective on this wondrous planet that we call home. things that i have largely taken for granted while trying to keep up with my laundry and my cat’s hairballs.
well so the last part of the show was dedicated to the driving force behind all these life-sustaining activities…the sun. everything on our planet is regulated by the energy provided from our sun. which is good. but it could be bad. because apparently the sun occasionally emits something called a coronal mass ejection. and yes it is as scary as it sounds. this pulse of energy contains more radiation than 14 million nuclear bombs and if it made it to earth it would completely decimate our planet.
all i could think while the narrator was talking was, ‘well shit…as if global warming wasn’t enough…now there’s something else to worry about that i didn’t even know i was supposed to worry about!’ but about the time i started to panic, one of the NASA scientists began describing the earth’s magnetosphere – our defense shield against this harmful radiation.
and then all i could think was, ‘well how about that…God has thought of everything. He’s got it all under control.’
it’s interesting this magnetosphere…it’s has not one, but two lines of defense. the first, outer layer deflects the majority of the harmful radiation. and then any remnants of radiation that leak through get directed to the poles where it reacts with the earth’s atmosphere and gets dissipated. and the most amazing thing about this whole process is that we can witness this with our own eyes in the phenomenon known as the northern and southern lights. the aurora borealis.
image courtesy wikipedia.
isn’t that just amazing??
so obviously the show really struck a chord with me because here i am three days later still thinking about it.
this morning on my run i was thinking about the sun. which at that time was beating right down on me. and i was thinking about how it sometimes hurls these deadly pulses of radiation at the earth. but yet God has a plan in place to keep the worst of it away. and the stuff that does make it to earth…well He takes care of that too. and not only that…He makes something beautiful out of it. something amazing. awe-inspiring. wonder-full. humbling. a reminder of His sovereign presence.
can i tell you…in light of some very difficult situations these past couple of weeks…this really hit home to me.
the truth is that i have been struggling…i have been struggling to make sense of things that just don’t make sense. trying to find answers to things that don’t have answers. and in times like this, my typical response is to retreat. find a place to hide from the world. but the only problem with that is from that defensive perspective, problems tend to loom large and seem insurmountable.
what i’ve come to realize is that my response is part of the problem – from there i can see only a tiny piece. and because of my limited, handicapped, human perspective, i can’t see how things are connected. i can’t see the big picture. but God does. from the infinitesimally tiny to the astronomically huge. God sees it all. in every direction. through all time and space. He reigns supreme. He has a plan. He has it under control.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
one of my favorite quotes from the NOVA show was this:
All of this reminds you how interconnected the earth system is, that no living thing lives in isolation from processes that may happen a long way away—in both space and time—from itself.
and i think similarly, it has helped me to put my own personal circumstances into some sort of perspective. this show has reminded me that i do not live in isolation. i am connected to a something much bigger than myself. and it is both wonder-full and humbling.
i wish had some sort of neat and tidy bow i could wrap up this blog post with. but the truth is that i have no idea how things are going to turn out. this is just me trying to walk in faith. having this new perspective has helped me greatly. so from here i am just going to continue to hope and put my faith in my good and loving God…try to do better about trusting in His plan. and i will cling to my savior, Jesus, who overcame the world for me. and lean on Him for strength and courage in the journey.