“Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete. Minos had Daedalus build a Labyrinth, a house of winding passages, to house the bull-man, the Minotaur, and required tribute from Athens in the form of young men and women to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Theseus volunteered to accompany one of these groups of victims to deliver his country from the tribute to Minos. Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him a thread which he let unwind through the Labyrinth so that he was able to kill the Minotaur and find his way back out again.” [Labyrinth]
I can’t help but remember Ariadne’s thread when looking at these beautiful images, as the contrail left by the Endeavour on its way to space is reminiscent of a very long thread that will soon vanish with the wind. The heroes that go orbit our planet must find their own way back home.
But there’s another way of interpreting the ancient Greek myth into the space age.
We may find ourselves already inside the Labyrinth, fighting and sacrificing millions of young lives each year among stupid and ultimately futile conflicts on the many corners of this planet. A pale blue dot, as Carl Sagan termed it, a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam that yet seems so vast that many think it’s all there is, was and will be.
As a Labyrinth, we have never left it. The farthest we have gone was our own Moon, but we quickly came back, and in fact never returned to it after only a handful of steps. We are still lost inside a labyrinth where we are our own monsters, as an infinite Universe of possibilities awaits to be explored.
The Ariadne’s Threads we unravel with our spaceships do not point the way back home, but our destiny among the stars. [image by @Stefmara and @NASA]
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