Despite scientific advancements, there are still mysteries in the 21st century that continue to astonish us when we contemplate them. These depths make us aware of our smallness and lack of knowledge about the world we live in. They remind us of our place in the universe and provide us with a dose of humility.

The ego is a curious mental construct that combines contributions from various psychological disciplines, manifesting as a volatile concept that each individual shapes according to their experiences. Measuring the ego, or lack thereof, is part of the tense landscape of our coexistence in increasingly complex multicultural societies. Under this mask we call “ego,” there are other regions that are more difficult to manage because they require virtues that are uncommon in a fiercely competitive world addicted to digital hyperconnectivity and technological acceleration. But wherever we look, prioritizing the climate emergency, the challenges are evident: we are immersed in conscious and unconscious “new depths” that are drastically altering our view of the world, life, and the universe.

On February 14, 1990, six billion kilometers away from Earth, the Voyager 1 spacecraft took a photograph of our planet that has since become an undeniable reference for the humility lesson we need in all areas of existence. Carl Sagan, the great American scientist and communicator, dedicated a text to this image that summarizes our place in the known universe like few others. It is part of that great lesson of humility that all scientific disciplines should include as an essential ethic, as the scientific method itself supports.

This new multidimensional depth is very recent. It is a mere instant in terms of deep time. The Copernican revolution should have eroded our proverbial anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism, but in the third decade of the 21st century, there would be no excuses for not admitting that, as a planet and as a species, we are not the center of anything, except perhaps our own destiny.

Acknowledging these truths does not mean denying our millennia-long quest for perennial wisdom or the need to unravel the great secrets of life and the world. On the contrary, it is the essence of scientific, philosophical, and poetic knowledge, as conceived by its greatest proponents. Its fallible nature guarantees epistemological (and ontological) sanity in the face of the fundamentalisms and fanaticisms that fuel ideologies of hatred, exclusion, and war.

Abyssal fauna and flora have been studied for decades in pioneering explorations, such as those by Auguste Piccard (1960) – with feats that have yet to be surpassed – or more recent ones, such as Five Deeps (2019), a survey of the main oceanic trenches in the five oceans. This project aims to rigorously research the deepest marine skin, that zone of intense darkness on which more things depend than we can imagine. These abyssal ecosystems sustain the spirals of ascending biodiversity, influencing ocean currents that play a decisive role in accelerating or mitigating change.

Source: Originally written by Jorge Riechmann in CCCB Lab.