Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Science is a delight, much like art

And yet again, after a much needed break, I take delight in re-evoking my passion for science. For the last few months, I had completely stopped reading and took to watching only science documentaries. But the problem with documentaries is that it seeks to entertain more than educate and I won't remember much about it later. 

My romance with science is pretty recent, I wanted to take up science as a hobby after I first read the Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking three years ago. I had read around 16 books on science since the beginning of 2016 but I have yet too many to read. And then on April, my little Jigme Jorden entered the world. Since then I had devoted completely to my child. Now I have my beautiful wife, sisters, mothers and aunts taking turns to care for him.

So I decided to start the habit of reading again. And I held this book, by Carl Sagan which I had already read once and enjoyed thoroughly.

The book is a story of cosmic evolution and the development of consciousness. The book begins from the shores of the cosmic ocean and dares to embrace the vast immensity of the universe. So far, we have only, ‘waded a little out to sea, enough to dampen our toes or at most wet our ankles.’

Some 300 years ago, it was in the shores of the same ocean that Newton once avowed, “I’m just a little kid collecting shells besides the vast and unexplored ocean of truth.”

The universe is unimaginably large. If we were to be randomly inserted into the cosmos, the chance that we would find ourselves on or near a planet would be less than one in a billion trillion trillion, (1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).These scales confound me.

When we consider how ancient and how vast the universe is, human endeavors seem trivial. If we were to compress the age of the Earth in a 12 month calendar, Human beings had arrived on this planet only in the last ten minutes of the last day of the month. And yet the universe is much older than the earth

Intergalactic distance is so huge that conventional measures such as meters and kilometers become useless. Here distance is measured by the speed of light or how long it takes for light to travel in one year.

For instance, it takes eight minutes for light from the sun to reach earth. Which means the sun is eight light minutes away from earth. If the sun died at this very moment, we have eight minutes to say our last prayers.

My idea of taking science as a hobby was never to solve a complex mathematical problem, or construct a new theory that will change mankind’s understanding of the universe, although it is fascinating to think of the possibility. I am no astrophysicist. I leave that to the Great Minds and Scientists.

The idea of taking delight in science is simply because it has so much romance, fascination and wonderment. There is art in science. Mother Nature is an artist on the grandest of scale. The following picture of the Horse head Nebulae is perhaps Mother Nature’s masterpiece.
Source: Google

We live in a very unpopular neighborhood on the Milky Way, a tiny speck of dirt in the vast metropolis of the universe. 

There are more planets and stars in the universe than all the grain of sands we can see on the ocean shore.

How can we not believe that the universe is brimming with life but we don’t know that yet?

We look back towards the ocean from whence we came and yearn to return. We are a part of the cosmos. The stars gave birth to us. We are all precious, we are all star stuff. My journey to the edge of the universe begins again with this book, the Cosmos, by Carl Sagan. 

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