Knowing one’s exact location was among the greatest challenges of the human push into the air, as it is in the exploration of any new frontier, before there were such things as aeronautical charts, that is, maps for aerial navigation. It is easy for a generation with pocket sized access to Google Maps to underestimate how different our world looks from above if you have only seen it from ground level.
Albert Einstein is perhaps the most recognizable figure of modern times. In 1999 Time magazine picked him as its “Person of the Century,” and in the public mind he certainly stands as the iconic scientist. He is generally pictured as an otherworldly genius, inhabiting a cosmic realm far above the mundane affairs of ordinary life, and in some ways he was. Yet when Einstein hit on his most famous and revolutionary idea, his Theory of Relativity, in 1905, he was working as a patent examiner at the Swiss Federal Patent Office in Bern, spending his days scrutinizing the designs of electrical machinery.
Kern calls time and space the universal, “essential” realities through which humans perceive, experience and live life, and he uses them to understand historical change.