Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day #303 Bee Flight and Space Flight

One of the nicest things about bees—and there are MANY great things about bees to choose from—is the way they fly, particularly on their orienting flights, when they leave the hive for the first time. They circle around and around, making sure they know precisely where home is so that later on in life, when they’re three weeks old and begin to forage far from the hive, they’ll know what to come back to and where it is.

Wednesday morning I went outside at 5:45 to be sure I was in place for the 5:48 to 5:50 flyover time of the International Space Station. I found that exact time on NASA’s ISS Tracker site. Go to “Sighting Opportunities,” enter your country, and continue from there.

As I watched the space station fly over, I couldn’t help but think that all our space flights so far (and I vividly recall the very first one) must look, to beings far from Earth, like the orienting flights of bees.

There is the bright, shining space station, circling around and around its Earth hive, accompanied by millions of bit of debris that previous flights have left up there—dust, bits of paint flakes, and lots of bigger pieces, too. These bigger pieces (anything more than 10 centimeters in diameter) are what contribute to the “Kessler Syndrome.” This syndrome states the possibility that eventually we’ll fill the space around us with so much dangerous junk, that future space flights will be at risk or downright impossible because of the risk of collision.

Here are two pictures of space waste that I lifted from the NASA site and good ole Wikipedia.

Not a pretty picture, eh?

So, in that way, we are not like bees. Just about the only space debris bees leave is bee poop. They don’t poop in their own hives—there’s a big difference between bees and people! And bee poop is biodegradable, unlike the metal and plastic waste we tend to leave behind us, both above earth and on it.

Still, the ISS was gorgeous in that pre-dawn hour, and seeing it was well worth the early trip to the end of my driveway.

Now, over the upcoming weekend, I hope to see the Perseid Meteor Shower. If I do, I’ll let you know for sure.

BEEattitude for Day # 303:
       Blessed are those who clean up after themselves, for they shall walk and not stumble.

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