Science and Magic – Future Thinking

by Dr Nick
Solar Eclipse
Small change in position of the moon bring incredible change in the View

Total Solar Eclipse

This week was special for this self-confessed geek and space nut – witnessing first hand a total solar eclipse. A trip that I had thankfully planned over a year ago. THe hotel we were in was booked out months before the event, flights prices were high and the roads and skies were packed

Traffic Jam

 

But I have heard from many it was worth the effort and the travel challenges were as varied as the visibility was. I was told not long before I set off that I was wasting my time as the weather was likely to be cloudy in Columbia SC – it was, as you can see in the picture cloudy, but not once did any cloud obstruct our view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from the thrilling nature of standing on the earth and watching the 1,000-mile wide moon obscure the light from the sun, a 432,000-mile wide object and the fascinating aspects of that experience (temperature drops, animal and bird behavior etc) it was the science that allowed me to be in the right spot at the right time prepared to observe and record this event that really impressed me. That got me thinking – what would this experience have been like many years ago when we could not predict these events. Apparently, you have to go back more than 2000 years for that to be the case! While the accuracy may not have been the same  (although in 1560 they predicted the event and location) the Mesopotamians were able to determine the length of the “Saros Cycle“. Our ability to measure the size and imperfections in the moon and predict down to incredible detail offered people in the US and around the world an opportunity to be in the path of totality

 

Introspection

I was reminded of Carl Sagan and his eloquent discussion on the “Pale Blue Dot” – the picture he persuaded NASA to take by Voyager as it exited the Solar System

Carl Sagan
The Pale Blue Dot

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our place in the Universe is relatively small and as he points out so much more important to take care of it and each other. Given all the science and insights I remain dumbstruck when I find people who still cling to the notion that the earth is Flat or is this just an odd sense of humor… It did offer some light relief with some interesting attempts to explain the phenomenon:

Original Story on this here

 

Future Science

Arthur C Clarke famously said

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

Which just reaffirms the point I made in my previous post – “Want to See the Future – as a Millenial

Future Predictions
Future Predictions – Ask a Millennial

 

 

 

Further Reading

And some links for further enjoyment

Stunning Images from the Eclipse

Unique Photos of the Eclipse you Should See

Solar Eclipse PhotoBomb by the International Space Station

Eclipses Have Changed History

Detailed Eclipse Study in Wyoming – Finding Answers in Science

Strange Thing That Happens During an Eclipse

The most Amazing Things Seen During an Eclipse

Missed It – Relieve the Climax in this 3 Minute Video

The Next US Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024

 


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