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My First Blog Post

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Our Place in the Universe

How did you first picture the universe? Before being taught in school or at home what the universe was like, we often start to wonder about the world around us. This phase in a child’s life often leads to parents being questioned about almost everything. Questions range from why the sky is blue, why is candy unhealthy, how hot is the sun, to even how far the stars are. These questions are often formed because our young minds are attempting to make sense of the mysteries surrounding us. Today we are surrounded by technology and are able to observe the universe around us with incredible accuracy, allowing us to use science and reasoning to piece together how things work. We weren’t always so well equipped to answer these questions, but not having the right tools didn’t stop ancient thinkers from asking or trying to answer questions about the universe.

Ancient Greece is given a large amount of credit for starting what we call modern science. Ancient Greece is renowned for its philosopher, who were among the first to publicly try to understand how things work without using supernatural or religious ideas. The origin of Greek science is attributed to Thales, who believed that the universe was mostly water, and the Earth was a flat disk floating in an infinite ocean. This idea didn’t catch on, but it suggested that the universe was comprehensible. This likely motivated others after him to continue theorizing our place in the universe. Thales did, however, theorize and predict that a solar eclipse would occur. He did not give a prediction date, but his grasp on the universe was ahead of many around him.

The Greeks largely believed in the geocentric model, which means they thought the Earth was the center of the universe. The Earth being the center of everything played an integral role in Aristotle’s physics. When explaining how elements work, he used their behavior in relation to the Earth to explain their “natural motions.” This lead him to saying that Fire moved away from the Earth, earth returned to Earth, water naturally goes towards Earth, and air rises away from Earth.

A German artist’s interpretation of Aristotle’s ideas

Aristotle’s physics and the geocentric model was widely accepted for a hundreds of years until the Copernican Revolution. Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler would all contribute to a more modern understanding of the universe and a transition from the geocentric model to the heliocentric model. The heliocentric model is what we use today, and places the Sun in the center of the solar system.

The left shows a heliocentric model while the right shows a geocentric one.

We haven’t always had the answers to questions like what is our place in the universe, but that hasn’t stopped us from trying to reason and theorize answers. Even with all our modern day tools and techniques we still can’t answer every question we have. Topics like dark energy still puzzle us, leading to attempts to theorize and reason what it is or how it works. Maybe one day we’ll have the proper technology to observe it, and we will look back on contemporary theories the same way we look at Ancient Greek Philosophers today.

Exploring our Universe

Growing up, I was always inspired by movies like Star Trek and Star Wars to think of other planets and the possibility of traveling in space. In the last few weeks we have discussed the scale of the universe, and how difficult it would be for us to travel to other regions of our nearby Universe. Currently, the fastest rocket we have created can travel about 16 kilometers per second. If we were to assume that in the near future we were able to more than triple this speed to a rate of 50 kilometers per second, how long would it take for us to reach the nearest neighboring star Proxima Centauri which is roughly 4 light years away? A light year is about 10 trillion kilometers, so this would take our hypothetical rocket around 25,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri. The nearest galaxy is Andromeda, which is about 2.5 million light years away. This helps put into perspective how far our galactic neighbors really are from us, and just how many generations/years it would take to reach them even if we were to achieve light speed.

Given this perspective, the significance of our planet and solar system is given more light. Without an insane technological breakthrough, we will not be exploring the universe anytime soon. We are stuck with what we have here on Earth and on the planets around us. While the escapist fantasy of fleeing our problems here on Earth by going to another fruitful solar system that’s ideal for colonization seems like a great idea, it is really in the end just a fantasy.

Proxima Centauri has been subject to plenty of observation

A web page to explore the Universe and that provides more perspective!

ASTR 2110 1st post

Hi, my name is Colin, and I am currently a student athlete at Vanderbilt University. I am taking 2 astronomy classes this semester, and hope to gain a good amount of perspective when it comes to knowing about space and our place in it. I’ve always enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy genres of books, movies, and video games. An idea I once heard that has always stuck with me was the notion that the people of today were born too late to explore the world, but were born too early to explore space. From what I have learned so far in my classes, is that we are a long ways off from doing any sort of deep space voyages. I think that despite this harsh reality, people long to explore something new because of the idea of being great and having a palpable goal to work towards.

Something that I noticed I did on accident, was actually consume 3 unrelated iterations of entertainment that all explored space during Winter Break. Those 3 things being the movies Star Wars and The Wandering Earth, and the video game The Outer Worlds. I’m looking forward to gaining a better perspective on a set of topics that I’m naturally drawn too!

A depiction of our planet as it passes Jupiter in The Wandering Earth

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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