Looking At Cataclysms

It was a week of visual superlatives, of images both awesome and horrifying. Astronomers said they had never seen anything like the fireworks produced when comet chunks, one of them roughly as big as an alp, crashed into the planet Jupiter. International relief workers said the same thing, only they were referring to the tide of refugees streaming out of Rwanda and into overnight cities of misery, disease and death. Certainly the millions of people who watched these two cataclysms unfold through news photographs and televised images had never seen anything like them either.

The ability to "see" such events, the...

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