Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future

By Jeffrey Bennett | Go to book overview

8
LIFE AMONG THE STARS

How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsider-
able this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our
mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our
Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A
very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for
those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of
so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in
being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small
Spot.

Christiaan Huygens, c. 1690

In 1999, I had the good fortune of spending a few months living in Holland, with my wife and then one-year-old son. We lived in a small town called Aalsmeer, just outside Amsterdam and even closer to the Schiphol airport. We chose the town because my wife’s employer had an office there, which was why we had come to Holland in the first place, but we soon learned that it is most famous as the site of the world’s largest flower market. As a fairly small town, Aalsmeer gave us a sense of the way most Dutch people really live, which is not quite according to the free-living reputation of Amsterdam. It was a great place to be with a young child, and its proximity to the Dutch highways made it a great starting point for driving trips throughout the region. For Americans, Europe seems remarkably small. In less time than it takes us to drive from our home in Boulder to the Colorado border, we could pass through three, four, or even five countries in Europe.

Today, crossing between Holland and Belgium or France and Germany is little different than crossing the Colorado border into New Mexico or Utah. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a sign letting you know when you’ve actually passed from one country to the other. In the town of Echternach, in Luxembourg, one day I pushed my son in his stroller across a short footbridge to

-161-

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