It was July 26, 9:47 PM. This night, believe it or not, my life changed. It was in the afternoon when I was informed that the International Space Station would be visible to the naked eye, starting at 9:47 pm local time and for five minutes from then. I was, of course, very excited. My whole life, I have been fascinated by space and the unknown. I was and I continue to be passionate about space and I am constantly watching new documentaries about one of my favorite topics.
At 9:40 or so, I was on my terrace and looking up at the dark sky. An enormous number of stars were visible. I noticed very clearly the vault shape of the sky and I was amazed. In just a few minutes I would be the richest person in the world. I would have the opportunity to see the sunlight reflection from the International Space Station. I would be able to see something which is so far away, between stars. Something “away from earth, for the earth”. I would have the privilege to see and say hello and thank you to six heroic people who did not even know I was there saluting them. So, I watched the sky, and I saw something like a bright star travelling. It was like a plane, but a lot faster. It was like a falling star, but less fast(!) I was mesmerized. I was rich. I was lucky. I was privileged. I cannot describe how I had felt and how I still feel. I felt so unimportant, so little.
“Those people watch me but they cannot see me” I thought. They see the dome under which we live and breathe and they travel and walk in space. They are “immortal”.
I saw the reflection of the sun and I could not help but think how much philosophy fits with physics. How much philosophy ends where science starts. Someone once thought that we cannot say that a reflection is the real sun. We cannot excel until we reach pure knowledge. This man, Plato, a philosopher, and many more, have contributed to science. If there weren’t people to dare imagine what exists above our sky then we would not be able to travel to space by now. If there were not people to imagine, think and talk, we would still be looking down to the ground to harvest food to eat and survive and not up to the sky in search of truth and salvation.
According to Plato’s myth, “Protagoras”, the Gods had trusted Prometheus to divide strengths and weaknesses between every living creature. The first however trusted his little brother, Epimitheus to divide personal grades and weaknesses. Epimetheus, very wisely did it so. He gave small creatures speed to help them avoid death and gave large animals teeth and strength to defend themselves. However, he forgot us, people. So, Prometheus tried to steal a very important gift from the Gods. He could not rob Zeus because he had two terrible guards: “Via” which means Violence and “Kratos” which means State. So, he turned to rob Athena and Festus. He stole fire and technology and gave people those two important factors. He was punished but he made people join the league of Gods. He had given them the power of knowledge and wisdom. This important power made us differ from other creatures. This privilege given to us makes us able to turn philosophy to something usable. Philosophy gives us wisdom and technology and science give us knowledge.
You see, when I saw the International Space Station, I travelled through time from ancient Egypt , where people believe that stars are candles fired by Gods to not lose their way back, to Plato’s stories. I saw how much humanity has excelled. I was mesmerized, astonished, I was filled with pride. Just in a night, those six people up there, and all those who made this possible, gave me back my lost confidence in people. These people and all those who can land “Rosetta” in a comet and those philosophers, poets and scientists who fight mortality and unawareness gave me back something which I thought had died.
They gave me back my faith!
Back to reality, I feel so happy and also extremely motivated to continue my studies further. I want to make this planet a better place. Nowadays, we live in a world where knowledge exists all around us. It is in the hands of our eager minds to make something out of this wealth of knowledge. To be constantly improved and able to improvise and create something new. I am lucky that my studies so beautifully include both science and philosophy. As I mentioned earlier, I consider that these two are very closely related. I am happy that I can study and clearly conceptualise things which I cannot see to my naked eye but I can approach with my mind. I feel deeply in love through the beauty and harmony of mathematics and I am more and more passionate to correlate this world of science to the world of philosophy.
Eleni is studying the BSc Economics and Politics by distance learning in Greece.