Short Space Film “Wanderers” Reminds Us We Are All Explorers 

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Wanderers is an inspiring vision of humanity’s expansion beyond planet earth, showing digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from photos and maps that we might find if we remember that we are explorers as well as tool-builders, and venture to seek these yet undiscovered worlds.

The short film shows stunning glimpses of our neighboring planets, beckoning to be explored, narrated by the unfailingly inspiring voice of Carl Sagan. The lack of an overt narrative gives the film a beautiful fluidity, leaving space for the viewer to overlay her own visions and dreams of discovery and exploration.

 

It’s sobering to realize that at one point in our history, we knew little of our own planet. Confined to certain regions, humans were unable to travel far due to a lack of tools that would help them survive unfamiliar climate and territory.

Drawn by both necessity and a deep instinct to seek out undiscovered lands, early humans built what they needed and spread across the globe, adapting to the new environments they found and adapting the lands to their presence.

Once nearly every habitable part of this planet had been settled, we could not control the urge to explore even further. The middle of the last century saw extraordinary breakthroughs in the achievement of human exploration.

In 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, and witnessed the world below from a perspective never seen by man before. In 1960, Jaques Piccard and Navy Lt. Don Walsh reached the depths of the Mariana trench, and answered the question scientists had been asking for the past decade: yes, life can thrive at such extraordinary depths. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon, travelling further from the comforts of home than any humans in history.

Since then, our exploration accomplishments have largely been the result of unmanned, robotic tools we sent out to gather data for us in the air, sea, over land, and in space. The Neil Armstrongs and Edmund Hillarys of today are the Mars Rover and Rosetta Probe.

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We’ve developed remarkable methods to help us understand our planet and solar system better than we’ve ever understood it before, and we’ve also allowed our tools to replace us as explorers. Today, this remote-control version of exploration has left us sedentary. Carl Sagan said, “For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled.”

A time will certainly come when we will again gather our tools and our courage, and launch off in search of a new world, driven either by our deeply rooted instinct for conquering the unknown, or by necessity.

[Media credit: Erik Wernquist]

Sveta writes about the intersection of biology and technology (and occasionally other things). She also enjoys long walks on the beach, being underwater and climbing rocks. You can follow her @svm118.

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