The Jupiter Effect: Preparing for the Future

The Jupiter Effect: Preparing for the Future

June 15, 2017

The year just ending has been one marked by uncertainty and the unexpected. Sadly, we have perhaps become accustomed to the regular threat of the catastrophic or cataclysmic. World events have surprised us on such a regular basis to the point where we may feel there are now few surprises.

For example, those national leaders making decisions that are shaping the future world that we are busy preparing our children to inherit have been particularly mercurial. During the past year or so more than one quarter of the 195 nation states that make up the United Nations have changed at least one key nation leader, be it a president, prime minister, or monarch. Some have resigned, some have been unexpectedly voted from office, others have been impeached or jailed for crimes, still others have passed away.

The net result is a situation where global affairs are in a state of uncertainty at a time when we face new and unfamiliar challenges and we perhaps feel that we lack the wisdom of past experience. We may feel unsettled as a result.

The future has always been unexplored territory. We have perhaps gazed at the calendars of years to come and wondered what the world will be like. We have contemplated our future selves and wondered about the state of our lives at that distant time. Of course, we ‘gaze through a glass darkly’, not really knowing who we are or what will be, but gaze we must.

I am inspired for this final reflection by the recent mission to Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System. Since the dawn of time, mankind has observed Jupiter, one of the five planets visible to the eye in the night sky, and perhaps wondered what mysteries it held. Astronomers have known the location of Jupiter for many thousands of years. With the aid of telescopes, we have been able to observe its famous ‘Great Red Spot’, a high-pressure anticyclonic storm more than three times the size of our planet. With modern technology, we have been able to plot the location of the poles of Jupiter with great precision.


Until just recently, however, no human, living or deceased, has ever gazed upon the visual beauty of the north and south poles of Jupiter. Alone in the history of humanity, we have had the privilege of seeing the images transmitted back to earth by the space probe Juno.

The year that awaits is a bit like the poles of Jupiter. From a chronological perspective, we have known its place in time since the start of recorded history. Yet, until we return from our summer break, no one will have ever experienced what it will bring. The new academic year is coming. We must travel to this future and prepare for the strangeness and wonder it will bring.

Enjoy a safe, productive, and restful summer!

Dr. Malcolm Pritchard
Head of School


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