A. Shaw, Chancellor
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Syracuse University Magazine (USPS 009-049, ISSN 1065-884X)
Volume 20, Number 3, is an official bulletin of Syracuse University
and is published four times yearly: spring, summer, fall, and winter
by Syracuse University, Syracuse NY 13244. It is distributed free
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UNIVERSITY MISSION •
To promote learning through teaching, research, scholarship, creative
accomplishment, and service.
UNIVERSITY VISION •
be the leading student-centered research university with faculty,
students, and staff sharing responsibility and working together
for academic, professional, and personal growth.
Wright once said: Its a small world, but I wouldnt
want to have to paint it. Thats no problem, since the
Earth does a fine job of painting itself. Think of the kaleidoscope
of colors it brushes across our landscapes, waters, and skies.
It can be incredibly
refreshing to soak in these colors, but we never truly get an original
look at the big pictureonly glimpses, snapshots of scenery
crossing our paths. Thats why Im always intrigued when
an astronaut describes our world from above. In Pioneering
SpiritDavid Marcs feature story about NASA
and the future of space explorationastronaut Eileen Collins
78 says that from space our atmosphere looks as thin as an
eggshell. You also see how beautiful the Earth isthe
colors, the waters, the continents, she says. You learn
to love our planet and you want to take care of it.
Perhaps if we
all shared this appreciation for the Earth, it would be a much betterand
cleanerplace. Gone would be the reckless habits of those who
view the world as their personal Dumpster. Gone would be the petty
politics and self-interests that hamstring efforts to protect the
environment. And gone would be the shortsighted actions that trash
precious natural resources with little thought of tomorrow. Idealistic?
Sure. But not unrealistic, especially if we step back every now
and then and consider the big picture with foresight rather than
hindsight. What we would see is that were all spinning on
this piece of property together, and we should cherish the ride,
make the most of our time here, and continue learning what we can
about this cosmic journey.
why no matter what anyone thinks of NASA, one thing we gain from
its work is a sense of self and place. Space exploration provides
us with a mirror on our worldan absolute perspective that
puts us in our place as mere blips on the Big Screen. Just look
at those dazzling pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, or think
about scientists devoting endless hours of research to enable us
to explore Mars. For all that NASA teaches us about the universe,
it also shows us how unique the Earth is. This challenges us to
look beyond ourselves and feeds our need to keep asking questions
about who we are and where were headed. And even when tragedy
stirs doubt, its important to remember that knowledge often
arises from failure.
There is no
simple solution to preserving our planetand chances are it
may survive us. But the more we realize whats at stake for
all of humanity and our world, the more conscious we may become
of our actions. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to understand
this. All you really have to do is step outdoors into the night
and gaze up at the stars to invoke your sense of wonder. The experience
is both illuminating and humbling. Its also a reminder that
without an appreciation for the Earth and the heavens above, our
vision will be forever limited and well never unravel the
mysteries within our grasp.
And who would
want to paint that picture of the world?