Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Essentially, the history of navigational instruments seems to be figuring out the best way to get home, rather than finding a way anywhere else. It's hard to fix a spot on the horizon with a spot in the sky solidly in place on a moving boat, so we had to get more sophisticated. Our arms gave way to ropes with knots and eventually to complicated machinery, because otherwise there's too much world to be sure of much at all. It's hard to keep a fixed location on a planet that keeps on spinning.

I suppose there is something to be said for making sure we know where we've been when we don't know where we're going, but sometimes I think of those early days of exploration and how it would be almost impossible to get home if you lost your arm. Perhaps this is why we outsourced our navigation to technology--if you weren't going to come home whole at least you stood a better chance of coming home at all.

No comments: