Christian Long

Frans Lanting: Lyrical Nature Photos

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Reflection by ALEX D.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Frans Lanting:  Lyrical Nature Photos

This Talk took me by surprise. I fully expected a scientific lecture about Darwinism, which has been told in many a science class.

Instead, I find myself watching a storyteller that can draw his audience in, and eloquently paint a picture of the Origin of Life.

The way by which Mr. Lanting told our planet’s history was brief, yet in its own way, thorough. He spoke succinctly enough so that the audience would pay attention, and drew the dots that our minds would connect.

The lights dim. The story begins.

All that existed was matter. This matter condensed, and with the energy of fire, the Earth was created. Actually, it may be a bit more complicated…

Water is the mother of life. Without it, we are nothing. Water gave life to stromatolites, which absorbed the gases in the universe, and created oxygen. These are simply facts and observations, but what do we humans do with this information? We know it, but what does that mean? Archaeologists, geologist, chemists, biologists, etc. all research the Earth. But why? There is no motive for learning this knowledge, other than to really understand our world. Every human loves our planet; it is our universal niche. Humans, for all we know, inhabit only this planet, and that in itself makes it unique.

We need to thank Mother Earth for giving us a home. We also need to thank Father Time, because without time, there is no advancement, no evolution, and no life. Time and Matter made the greatest invention of all: Earth.

There is more to our planet that we can see on the surface. Frans Lanting was able to dissect our planet and share his, along with other scientists research in a very user-friendly way. Mr. Lanting’s last words put a large grin on my face; he mentioned early on that all life needs a membrane, whether a cell wall, skin, etc. He concluded by saying that “The Earth is alive, and it has made its own membrane.” I always thought that life on Earth was interesting, but never in my life did I visualize my planet as a living organism. This story, like the life cycle, went full circle.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, religious or individual, Lanting’s explanation of time, life, and the Earth is remarkable.

One can believe as they wish. God could have created all that is here today. Or science and evolution could have made it all begin. Lanting’s visual journey was not meant to be a religious battleground. Instead, his story was a painstakingly researched collaboration of history and ideas. I read through all of the comments on the TED site. Not one person brought up the issue of religion versus science, and that in itself was impressive. Over the news and the web, people are debating whether or not subjects like this should be taught in schools, which in my opinion is ridiculous. If the knowledge is out there, it should be shared with the people.

We mustn’t argue over the why or how. We should live in the now. Our world is more incredible that we realize. Humans tend to think the universe revolves around them, when in reality we are part of a much bigger life cycle that has been in place for billions of years. We have only been “here” for a few thousand years; that is less than one percent of the Earth’s history. Have you ever just thought about time and life? It’s something that always intrigues me… The fact that I am alive, right now, in this time. What were the chances that we were born in an age when the secrets of life are being revealed? Perhaps that is how we think now, but I’m sure that in the future other humans will think upon different universal issues.

Mr. Lanting did great work in his Talk, and really put together a lot of puzzle pieces. From matter and space, into algae and primal forms of life, into mammals.

Our 4.5 billion year history was summed up in 15 minutes.


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