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  • Before I get to bulk of what I have to say,

  • I feel compelled just to mention a couple of things about myself.

  • I am not some mystical,

  • spiritual sort of person.

  • I'm a science writer.

  • I studied physics in college.

  • I used to be a science correspondent for NPR.

  • OK, that said:

  • in the course of working on a story for NPR,

  • I got some advice from an astronomer

  • that challenged my outlook,

  • and frankly, changed my life.

  • You see, the story was about an eclipse,

  • a partial solar eclipse that was set to cross the country

  • in May of 1994.

  • And the astronomer -- I interviewed him,

  • and he explained what was going to happen and how to view it,

  • but he emphasized that, as interesting as a partial solar eclipse is,

  • a much rarer total solar eclipse is completely different.

  • In a total eclipse, for all of two or three minutes,

  • the moon completely blocks the face of the sun,

  • creating what he described as the most awe-inspiring spectacle

  • in all of nature.

  • And so the advice he gave me was this:

  • "Before you die," he said,

  • "you owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse."

  • Well honestly, I felt a little uncomfortable

  • hearing that from someone I didn't know very well;

  • it felt sort of intimate.

  • But it got my attention, and so I did some research.

  • Now the thing about total eclipses is,

  • if you wait for one to come to you,

  • you're going to be waiting a long time.

  • Any given point on earth experiences a total eclipse

  • about once every 400 years.

  • But if you're willing to travel, you don't have to wait that long.

  • And so I learned that a few years later, in 1998,

  • a total eclipse was going to cross the Caribbean.

  • Now, a total eclipse is visible only along a narrow path,

  • about a hundred miles wide,

  • and that's where the moon's shadow falls.

  • It's called the "path of totality."

  • And in February 1998,

  • the path of totality was going to cross Aruba.

  • So I talked to my husband, and we thought: February? Aruba?

  • Sounded like a good idea anyway.

  • (Laughter)

  • So we headed south,

  • to enjoy the sun and to see what would happen

  • when the sun briefly went away.

  • Well, the day of the eclipse found us and many other people

  • out behind the Hyatt Regency,

  • on the beach,

  • waiting for the show to begin.

  • And we wore eclipse glasses with cardboard frames

  • and really dark lenses that enabled us to look at the sun safely.

  • A total eclipse begins as a partial eclipse,

  • as the moon very slowly makes its way in front of the sun.

  • So first it looked the sun had a little notch in its edge,

  • and then that notch grew larger and larger,

  • turning the sun into a crescent.

  • And it was all very interesting, but I wouldn't say it was spectacular.

  • I mean, the day remained bright.

  • If I hadn't known what was going on overhead,

  • I wouldn't have noticed anything unusual.

  • Well, about 10 minutes before the total solar eclipse was set to begin,

  • weird things started to happen.

  • A cool wind kicked up.

  • Daylight looked odd, and shadows became very strange;

  • they looked bizarrely sharp,

  • as if someone had turned up the contrast knob on the TV.

  • Then I looked offshore, and I noticed running lights on boats,

  • so clearly it was getting dark,

  • although I hadn't realized it.

  • Well soon, it was obvious it was getting dark.

  • It felt like my eyesight was failing.

  • And then all of a sudden,

  • the lights went out.

  • Well, at that,

  • a cheer erupted from the beach,

  • and I took off my eclipse glasses,

  • because at this point during the total eclipse,

  • it was safe to look at the sun with the naked eye.

  • And I glanced upward,

  • and I was just dumbstruck.

  • Now, consider that, at this point, I was in my mid-30s.

  • I had lived on earth long enough to know what the sky looks like.

  • I mean --

  • (Laughter)

  • I'd seen blue skies and grey skies

  • and starry skies and angry skies

  • and pink skies at sunrise.

  • But here was a sky I had never seen.

  • First, there were the colors.

  • Up above, it was a deep purple-grey,

  • like twilight.

  • But on the horizon it was orange,

  • like sunset,

  • 360 degrees.

  • And up above, in the twilight,

  • bright stars and planets had come out.

  • So there was Jupiter

  • and there was Mercury

  • and there was Venus.

  • They were all in a line.

  • And there, along this line,

  • was this thing,

  • this glorious, bewildering thing.

  • It looked like a wreath woven from silvery thread,

  • and it just hung out there in space, shimmering.

  • That was the sun's outer atmosphere,

  • the solar corona.

  • And pictures just don't do it justice.

  • It's not just a ring or halo around the sun;

  • it's finely textured, like it's made out of strands of silk.

  • And although it looked nothing like our sun,

  • of course, I knew that's what it was.

  • So there was the sun, and there were the planets,

  • and I could see how the planets revolve around the sun.

  • It's like I had left our solar system

  • and was standing on some alien world,

  • looking back at creation.

  • And for the first time in my life,

  • I just felt viscerally connected to the universe

  • in all of its immensity.

  • Time stopped,

  • or it just kind of felt nonexistent,

  • and what I beheld with my eyes --

  • I didn't just see it,

  • it felt like a vision.

  • And I stood there in this nirvana

  • for all of 174 seconds -- less than three minutes --

  • when all of a sudden, it was over.

  • The sun burst out,

  • the blue sky returned,

  • the stars and the planets and the corona were gone.

  • The world returned to normal.

  • But I had changed.

  • And that's how I became an umbraphile --

  • an eclipse chaser.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, this is how I spend my time and hard-earned money.

  • Every couple of years, I head off to wherever the moon's shadow will fall

  • to experience another couple minutes

  • of cosmic bliss,

  • and to share the experience with others:

  • with friends in Australia,

  • with an entire city in Germany.

  • In 1999, in Munich, I joined hundreds of thousands

  • who filled the streets and the rooftops and cheered in unison

  • as the solar corona emerged.

  • And over time, I've become something else:

  • an eclipse evangelist.

  • I see it as my job

  • to pay forward the advice that I received all those years ago.

  • And so let me tell you:

  • before you die,

  • you owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse.

  • It is the ultimate experience of awe.

  • Now, that word, "awesome," has grown so overused

  • that it's lost its original meaning.

  • True awe, a sense of wonder and insignificance

  • in the face of something enormous and grand,

  • is rare in our lives.

  • But when you experience it, it's powerful.

  • Awe dissolves the ego.

  • It makes us feel connected.

  • Indeed, it promotes empathy and generosity.

  • Well, there is nothing truly more awesome than a total solar eclipse.

  • Unfortunately, few Americans have seen one,

  • because it's been 38 years

  • since one last touched the continental United States

  • and 99 years since one last crossed the breadth of the nation.

  • But that is about to change.

  • Over the next 35 years,

  • five total solar eclipses will visit the continental United States,

  • and three of them will be especially grand.

  • Six weeks from now, on August 21, 2017 --

  • (Applause)

  • the moon's shadow will race from Oregon to South Carolina.

  • April 8, 2024, the moon's shadow heads north from Texas to Maine.

  • In 2045, on August 12,

  • the path cuts from California to Florida.

  • I say:

  • What if we made these holidays?

  • What if we --

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • What if we all stood together,

  • as many people as possible,

  • in the shadow of the moon?

  • Just maybe, this shared experience of awe would help heal our divisions,

  • get us to treat each other just a bit more humanely.

  • Now, admittedly, some folks consider my evangelizing a little out there;

  • my obsession, eccentric.

  • I mean, why focus so much attention on something so brief?

  • Why cross the globe -- or state lines, for that matter --

  • for something that lasts three minutes?

  • As I said:

  • I am not a spiritual person.

  • I don't believe in God.

  • I wish I did.

  • But when I think of my own mortality --

  • and I do, a lot --

  • when I think of everyone I have lost,

  • my mother in particular,

  • what soothes me

  • is that moment of awe I had in Aruba.

  • I picture myself on that beach,

  • looking at that sky,

  • and I remember how I felt.

  • My existence may be temporary,

  • but that's OK because, my gosh,

  • look at what I'm a part of.

  • And so this is a lesson I've learned,

  • and it's one that applies to life in general:

  • duration of experience does not equal impact.

  • One weekend, one conversation -- hell, one glance --

  • can change everything.

  • Cherish those moments of deep connection with other people,

  • with the natural world,

  • and make them a priority.

  • Yes, I chase eclipses.

  • You might chase something else.

  • But it's not about the 174 seconds.

  • It's about how they change

  • the years that come after.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Before I get to bulk of what I have to say,

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B1 US TED eclipse solar eclipse solar sun total

【TED】David Baron: You owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse (You owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse | David Baron)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/08/10
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