The next big thing

So … when IS humanity’s next Copernican moment?

This is not the usual exercise in rhetorical jive, but an honest question meant to inspire thoughtful reflection. You have a few moments to ponder it and come up with a suitable answer. Of course, it will be no surprise if you decline that offer and opt instead to carry on with the lustful fantasies inspired just seconds ago by those rippled and curvy phone sex models seen on the previous page.

Anyway, most of you who haven’t completely rendered your education null and void via pinot, Pernod and porno will probably remember ol’ Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish astronomer who developed a theory of the cosmos back in the 16th century that demanded that humanity immediately pull its big, lumpy head out of its deep, dank ostrich hole and face the music of the truth—namely, that Earth is not the center of the heavens, but is actually your basic speck of space rock hurtling around the sun.

It was that rare sort of discovery that results in a true upheaval of what was taken to be Reality, and when Copernicus finally published his works in 1543, he launched what came to be known as the Copernican Revolution. You know you’ve successfully rocked the proverbial boat when they name a revolution after you. His book came out and said, “Sorry, y’all, but you’ve had it wrong for centuries. THIS is how it really is. And I can prove it.” And humanity, reluctantly, had to submit.

Since then, Copernican moments have been somewhat scarce in the ballpark of Life. Darwin smashed a triple down the line in 1859, albeit one that is still being debated, developed and wrangled with 143 years later. The kings of 19th-century geology scorched a double into the gap in left center when they readjusted the age of the planet, snatching it from the laughable realm of Biblical guesswork. The quantum physicists of the 20th century, led by that crafty screwball Al Einstein, stroked a single to center when they made possible the destruction of Earth via advanced thermonuclear incineration techniques. While not a development that fundamentally changed our view of the universe, it nonetheless literally rocked our world and brought about a Copernican-sized shift in terms of us feeling truly fragile and vulnerable for the first time in our known history.

So … when will the next big Copernican take place? One that forces grudging admissions and the rewriting of textbooks?

There are a few possibilities. Cold-water fusion would be cool. A scientific explanation of parapsychological phenomena that leads to generations of telepaths would be interesting. The mastery of cloning would shake things up a tad, as would the creation of a bizarre, computer-generated alternate reality.

But there are times when I can’t help but think that the next great Copernican just may have already taken place, if there is any substance whatsoever to the strange and persistent stories that emanated from the hills of Roswell 55 years ago.