The image of Earth in Crossroads

At the end of the season, we had a zoom-out from the Ionian Nebula out of the galaxy, then back in at the same spot to Earth. Some fans put up screen captures of Earth from the sequence.

I’m going to start of by saying I don’t put a lot of stock in interpretation of these captures. I think the 95% likely scenario is the effects team took an image of current-day Earth, and built their sequence with it. The only thing they did to deal with the freeze-framers is make sure the image did not show any cities in the nightside, so we would not learn if there were lights. Still, there are a number of amusing speculations one can make from the sequence.

  • In spite of the effort to avoid urban lights by making in sunset in California, Hawai`i is still in the frame.
  • A highly advanced civilization would likely not emit much light into the sky. That’s terribly wasteful. It is only because we are backwards that we spill so much energy to the sky.
  • You can tell the picture is modern because it has a modern Mississippi River Delta. The longest part of the delta, known as the Balize lobe and Plaquemine lobe are quite recent — 500 to 700 years old. The delta did not stick out into the gulf nearly as far just a short while ago.
  • In fact, the delta looks just maybe a little bit bigger than it is now. But the picture is not so sharp. An HDTV capture might tell us more. If it is, that would be a solid clue that we’re looking at the future.
  • The sequence zooms in and out of the wrong part of the Galaxy for Earth. That’s part of why I conclude they did not pay careful attention to all the details in it. The moon also does something seemingly impossible in their model, moving from between the Earth and Sun to behind it. In addition, the Earth is lit incorrectly for where the sun is — they obviously did not use any standardized solar system CGI generator.
  • In recent history, we have taken control over how the Delta forms — in fact many people think we’ve botched it up and New Orleans was flooded as a result. So you can’t actually predict how the delta will look in the future.
  • Some people think they see an artificial agricultural line — another indication this is just a modern picture.

So once again, I don’t read much into the picture, but it’s interesting to note the details.

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