Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We're All Connected

There is a Youtube clip online of one of my favorite astrophysicists, Neil Degrasse Tyson, giving a interview about how the act of viewing space makes him feel. His statements are best summed up in this way: When I look at the universe, I feel gigantic because I know that the atoms that make up my body were created in the destruction of super massive stars.  While Ian and I were studying last night for a test, one of the tangents we went off on was about this very topic.

A quick aside for those of you who don’t know, when a star much larger than our own dies, it becomes a super nova. After a great deal of time and some interesting physical processes, new elements are formed. Once the star collapses, the elemental atoms are dispersed across space, and from these many simple molecules are formed. This is the basis for Tyson’s statements.

While we were discussing that, I had an enormous emotional upsurge. I can understand why Tyson feels the way he does, and after thinking about it more, I got the usual feelings that I get of wonderment and awe about the universe. With regards to the natural processes of the it, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the complexity and usefulness of the “laws” of nature there are, and how humans have come to understand them, especially if one takes into account how little humans fully grasp despite our gigantic leaps and bounds since the beginning of rational thought so long ago. Every century science closes old doors on unsolved mysteries only to open up even more, ushering in the new era of scientists and deep thinkers.  

Ian brought up a good point about how amazing it is to think that the atoms in galaxies far away are the same exact elements as those on Earth. I agree with this wholeheartedly. To think that in some way, shape, or form, we are connected with the entire universe amazes me. Below, I posted two videos. The first of the two is the Neil Degrasse Tyson interview. It is very interesting, and I highly recommend it. The latter of the two is a mix-up of lectures and miniseries episodes of some very highly regarded scientists (oh, and Bill Nye the science guy). Again, this is a well done video and, while being less popular than their video, “A Glorious Dawn,” it is still great.


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