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  • It is our constant companion.

  • Influencing many aspects of our culture, thought and being.

  • Ever-present in design, art, music, science, technology, religion,

  • but what is the Moon?

  • It depends who you ask.

  • The ancient Mesopotamians would speak of Nanna,

  • the god of the Moon and creator of all things.

  • While a present day cosmologist might describe

  • the stabilising influence of our Earth's tilt.

  • And most of us picture the Moon as being closer than it actually is.

  • Hmm, quite a squeeze for a textbook.

  • Strangely, the Sun is 400 times further away from the Earth

  • than the Moon

  • and is 400 times its size.

  • This means that, viewed from the Earth,

  • they appear to be exactly the same size.

  • Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov described this natural quirk as

  • 'the most unlikely coincidence imaginable.'

  • These correlations didn't go unnoticed

  • by early star-gazing cultures.

  • Notably, 108 is an auspicious number for Hindus

  • who count 108 marma points, or sacred places in the body.

  • Many believe the Moon affects our bodies.

  • We know its push and pull affects the tides

  • and we are organic creatures made largely of water

  • who evolved in an ecosystem reliant on this celestial neighbour.

  • What about the Moon's effect on our state of mind?

  • The word lunacy is derived from the Latin word lunaticus,

  • meaning moonstruck.

  • Statistics do show a consistent rise in crime rates around a full moon.

  • Scientists prefer to attribute this to convenient light levels

  • for the plying of nefarious activity.

  • And it's not only our minds in question -

  • the perceived connection between fertility and the cycles of the Moon

  • goes back a long time.

  • Perhaps that's just because the lunar and menstrual cycles

  • correlate so closely.

  • In the ancient world, the Moon was generally personified as male

  • with the shift to female deities and ideas happening more recently,

  • relatively speaking.

  • If the Moon is female, there has been no shortage of historical characters

  • trying to fathom her mysteries

  • to harness this elusive beacon of the natural world.

  • So it's nice to hear Nasa has just announced an initiative

  • to put a woman on the Moon by 2024,

  • aptly-named Artemis, after Greek god Apollo's twin sister.

  • And the Moon's many faces continue

  • with some seeing her as a harbinger of doom.

  • The Maori people call the Moon Hina, the man-eater,

  • who was the bringer of death.

  • Then there's the melancholic reflective Moon.

  • Around the turn of the 18th Century,

  • as we adjusted to the brave new world of science and discovery,

  • artists became increasingly focused on our place in the natural world.

  • Paintings from the likes of Caspar David Friedrich

  • and Joseph Wright of Derby

  • turned to the Moon as a central theme -

  • often with small human figures,

  • their backs to the viewer in quiet reflection.

  • Finally in July 1969, we successfully landed two men on the Moon

  • and we discovered what she'd been silently gazing upon

  • for all this time.

  • So what is the Moon?

  • Male, female, a life support system, or a bringer of death?

  • Inducer of madness, a conspiracy, a symbol of peace?

  • What if it's all these things?

  • Embodying all the light and shade of human experience.

  • It seems the Moon is whatever we choose to see -

  • a constant reflection of us.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

  • Don't forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

It is our constant companion.

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Why the moon is still such a mystery | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/12/16
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