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In Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth. In the modern world it is the name of Luke Jerram's breath-taking 'Earth artwork', which is currently installed at Our Dynamic Earth, on Holyrood Road.
Measuring some seven metres in diameter and created from 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, the artwork provides a unique opportunity to see Earth as many astronauts have seen it, floating in all its fragile beauty in three dimensions.
According to my-earth.org, the installation aims to create a sense of the ‘Overview Effect’; a common reaction by astronauts who have seen the real thing from their craft has been 'a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment'.
It was a view that caused Apollo 11 astronaut to post on Twitter, “I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of, let's say 100,000 miles, their outlook would be fundamentally changed. The all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument suddenly silenced."
Gaia can be viewed as it majestically revolves in the Stratosphere Hall of Dynamic Earth until November 8, during its first appearance in the Scottish Capital. The spectacular viewing experience is accompanied by a specially recorded surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones.
“I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place. An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home. We urgently need to wake up, and change our behaviour. We need to quickly make the changes necessary, to prevent runaway Climate Change," says Jerram.
"I was amazed and delighted that my Museum of the Moon artwork has been so popular. I’m fully aware that 10 million members of the public haven’t been coming to see an artwork by Luke Jerram but rather the Moon; an object of universal appeal and cultural significance.
"With this Gaia Earth artwork, I’m interested in just how different the experience and interpretation is. For our entire human existence we have been gazing up at the moon and projecting all our hopes, dreams and wishes up there. Whereas it was only in 1968 that we were able to see our planet floating as a blue marble in space." Luke Jerram
In 2019, St Giles Cathedral played host to Jerram's Museum of the Moon.
Gaia is 1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth with each centimetre of the internally lit sculpture describing 18km of the Earth’s surface. To see what the Earth would look like as seen from the Moon, you would need to stand 211 metres away from the scupture.
Amazingly, it was as recently as 1968 we first saw the Earth as 'a blue marble floating in space', courtesy of NASA’s Apollo 8 mission. Its obvious isolation and fragility changed our thinking forever.