Last week, in the corners of the Internet devoted to outer space, things started to get a little, well, hot. Voyager 1, the man-made object farthest away from Earth, was encountering a sharp uptick in the number of a certain kind of energetic particles around it. Had the spacecraft become the first human creation to “officially” leave the solar system?
It’s hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain- and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth’s orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere — tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?
We’re not quite there yet, Voyager’s project scientist and former head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Edward Stone, told me. The spacecraft is on its way out — “it’s leaving the solar system” — but we don’t know how far it has to go or what that transition to interstellar space will look like.
A recent article in the Economist used a complex, but somewhat small in scope, survey to study wisdom. They found that Americans definitely get smarter with age. They scored 45 points at age 25, and 55 by age 75.
In comparison, the Japanese learn wisdom much quicker, scoring 51 in both age groups.
This led to the byline – Americans get wiser with age. Japanese are wise from the start.
Very interesting and thoughtful, but I found it more inspiring to look at how they judged wisdom.
The assessors scored participants’ responses on a scale of one to three. This attempted to capture the degree to which they discussed what psychologists consider five crucial aspects of wise reasoning:
- Willingness to seek opportunities to resolve conflict;
- Willingness to search for compromise;
- Recognition of the limits of personal knowledge;
- Awareness that more than one perspective on a problem can exist;
- Appreciation of the fact that things may get worse before they get better.
Basically, how good of a – diplomat/negotiator/self-aware/empathetic/realist – are you?
// Thx to Kirby Plessas