The History and Science of the Solar Eclipse

Professor Brian Keating
3 min readApr 10, 2024


In an era where our collective consciousness often veers towards cynicism and pessimism, it’s paramount to remind ourselves of the extraordinary era we inhabit. Consider the marvel that is modern life. I am writing this on a journey through the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama desert of Northern Chile. Soon, I’ll make a seamless transition to a plane that propels me 7,000 miles at nearly the speed of sound, all while we’re ensconced in the glow of entertainment of the Barbie Movie, sipping on a fine glass of local Malbec.

This isn’t just a testament to human ingenuity; it’s a narrative of the very essence of optimism. My mind reeks thinking of everyone who is going to whisk me safely home: The people who designed and built the 787 plane, the pilot who calculated its trajectory, and the visionary who dreamt of making the world smaller did not dwell excessively on the manifold ways things could go wrong. If so, they’d have only made parachutes.

No, these were optimists. They looked at the vastness of our universe and saw not insurmountable distances but sky bridges waiting to be built. This optimism, this relentless pursuit of making the impossible possible, has been the cornerstone of humanity’s greatest achievements.

Yet, the cautionary tale lies not in disregarding the parachute but in over-indexing on it. Pessimism, while necessary for survival, can become a crutch that cripples innovation if allowed to dominate our psyche.

If all we do is build parachutes, we anchor ourselves to the ground, forever looking up at the sky as a realm too perilous to explore.

From the Wright brothers to the engineers behind the Mars Rovers, it’s the optimists who have charted the course of human history.

It’s easy to become jaded. The flight over the desert, the wine, and Barbie on the screen in front of us can be seen as just another day. But pause for a moment and reflect on the sheer scale of human achievement that this scenario represents. It’s a reminder that we live in the best of times, a period where our capacity to overcome the insurmountable is limited only by our imagination.


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Today’s conversation is all about the Total Solar Eclipse!

It’s coming soon. Prepare yourself by watching my explanation of the complex social and scientific phenomena involved in this majestic event.

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Professor Brian Keating

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Host of The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast Authored: Losing the Nobel Prize & Think like a Nobel Prize Winner