In 1945, Robert Oppenheimer and the planet’s best brains summoned hellfire from the lab and wrote intentional auto-extinction into the arsenal of human potential. In his painting “Why We Explore,” artist Robert Bausch summarizes Earth’s evolution on a single canvas. In the left-to-right storyline, the third stone out is a barren wasteland getting hammered by space debris, and upchucking the molten contents of its crust into the sea. Single-celled organisms shimmy from the steaming prehistoric broth before their more complex incarnations migrate rightward across the watery blue. Their descendants crawl ashore into a lush Eden, where more recognizable plant and animal communities pave the way for the ascension of humans.
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