Reasons to watch a star

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Closed night, open field, clear sky, and … meteor shower. Who does not feel moved by such a spectacle? And how to digest it, what to do about something like that? Science, philosophy and art give us different answers that, far from contradicting each other, feed each other. It was explained to us by Professor Emeritus in Philosophy Víctor Gómez Pin and composer and video artist Raquel García-Tomás during the talk "Look at the stars or the blue infinity", framed in the CaixaForum cycle Curiosity saved the cat organized by the Obra Social ”la Caixa”.

There are practical reasons to look at the sky, how to orient ourselves in time. The sky gives us night and day, the phases of the Moon, the seasons, and that allows us Organize our life. But how is our fixation explained by the cosmos far beyond what affects us? Why did our ancestors care so much whether or not the Sun turned while it served as energy to the tomatoes in their garden? Why Galileo or Copernicus literally played their heads against everything – religious and secular tradition – to know the reality of celestial phenomena? Professor Gómez Pin is clear: we do it because “we are motivated, as physics nobel Max Born said, by the burning desire of every thinking mind” and because “as Aristotle said, men began to philosophize moved by stupor"

“Watching the Moon has impressed and inspired me since I was little”, confesses García-Tomás, author, among many others, of the musical piece Contemplar las estrellas. “I remember that when I left the city to go to my grandparents' house on the mountain it was like an escape. I discovered that thoughtful state of asking you questions or connecting with your interior. For me, looking at the stars equals a pause and a silence that allows me to feel my true aspirations, to think about the future, to discover myself. ”

“Heaven is a magnificent place”, grants the professor, "but not infinite", clarifies bluntly. “Because if we say that the universe is expanding, it is finite. Of course, all the fascination we feel for him, in the twentieth century has led us to the greatest scientific and metaphysical advances. It is the result of projecting, in micro, macro observation models, such as orbitation, which is similar in the planets and in the atom. Therefore, when you enter a hydrogen atom you see a spectacle as much or more fascinating than the sky. ”

It is clear that the conquest of space has done evolve into art and thought. But, at the same time, it has led us to its desacralization. “The Chinese had planned eclipses long before Thales of Miletus – considered the first scientist in history – but they explained them by saying things like that a great dragon had eaten the Sun. Thales of Miletus, on the other hand, described nature, knew its intrinsic need and considered it transparent to knowledge, that certainly deacralized her, but allowed the creation of physics”, Sums up the expert.

Music inspired by the stars

Rachel explains that the star-inspired music ceased to be what it was because of this desacralization: “We have gone from compositions like Macrocosm by George Crumb (1929), who sought, rather than answers, a symbology (each movement is titled with a Zodiac sign), to pieces such as Le noir et l’étoile by Gérard Grisey (1989), who no longer talks about what a constellation inspires him, but uses the sound of the passage of a pulsar on-site – technology already allowed to hear it – to use your constant energy as a rhythm, that is, to use the stars in a structural way ”.

Does this mean that by introducing knowledge (language) into the equation we have killed transcendence? Nothing further, according to Gomez Pin, since knowledge is "precisely what allows it." We must not forget that "the scientific formula and metaphor – or science and poetry – are two modes of language richness."

For the moment, everything indicates that human beings still need what irrational or inexplicable, continue to believe that behind each star there is a mystery. We see it, for example, in mathematicians, who only consider an admirable colleague if, in addition to solving a problem, he does so elegantly. Even scientists like Stephen Hawking have wanted to introduce a intrigue touch on the final resolution of each conflict.

In short, we may have found many clear answers to heavenly enigma that inspires us so much, but we still prefer to wrap the clarity of mystery, in an incessant attempt to go, always, beyond what we see.

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