Contemplating the Infinite in the British Museum

star carr red dear headdress in the british museum

In Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, the Total Perspective Vortex gives “one momentary glimpse of the size of the entire infinity of creation along with a tiny little marker saying ‘you are here’”.

I occasionally get a similar feeling – being hit with the complete and utter inconsequentiality of our individual existences – when I visit the British Museum.

On one of their ‘show and tell’ desks where visitors can handle artefacts from the collection I was allowed to pick up a flint hand axe that was made over a quarter of a million years ago, the smooth base of it fitting as comfortably into my palm as it must have done for my impossibly distant ancestor. 

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