The Sciences:

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by paddoboy, Oct 9, 2016.

  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    While firstly agreeing that all the sciences are interesting in their own way and that all are obviously used to advance mankind, as plain old humans, each of us would have a favourite that he/she sees as most interesting:
    My vote goes with Astronomy and as an extension Cosmology........
    I am unable to describe it any better then the following quote by the Scottish Astronomer James Furguson


    “Of all the sciences cultivated by mankind, Astronomy is acknowledged to be, and undoubtedly is, the most sublime, the most interesting, and the most useful. For, by knowledge derived from this science, not only the bulk of the Earth is discovered, but our very faculties are enlarged with the grandeur of the ideas it conveys, our minds exalted above their low contracted prejudices.” - James Ferguson

    I came across that quote here....
    http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/universe/201367/cosmic-perspective
    and a piece by Neil DeGrasse-Tyson......
    Cosmic Perspective
    Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how embracing cosmic realities can enlighten our view of human life.
    The article begins with the quote in question and.....
    "Long before anyone knew that the universe had a beginning, before we knew that the nearest large galaxy lies two and a half million light-years from Earth, before we knew how stars work or whether atoms exist, James Ferguson's enthusiastic introduction to his favorite science rang true. Yet his words, apart from their eighteenth-century flourish, could have been written yesterday"
    and concludes thus.......
    "The cosmic perspective flows from fundamental knowledge. But it's more than just what you know. It's also about having the wisdom and insight to apply that knowledge to assessing our place in the universe. And its attributes are clear:

    The cosmic perspective comes from the frontiers of science, yet it is not solely the provenance of the scientist. It belongs to everyone.

    The cosmic perspective is humble.

    The cosmic perspective is spiritual—even redemptive—but not religious.

    The cosmic perspective enables us to grasp, in the same thought, the large and the small.

    The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out, making us susceptible to believing anything we're told.

    The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place.

    The cosmic perspective shows Earth to be a mote, but a precious mote and, for the moment, the only home we have.

    The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them.

    The cosmic perspective enables us to see beyond our circumstances, allowing us to transcend the primal search for food, shelter, and sex.

    The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space, where there is no air, a flag will not wave—an indication that perhaps flag waving and space exploration do not mix.

    The cosmic perspective not only embraces our genetic kinship with all life on Earth but also values our chemical kinship with any yet-to-be discovered life in the universe, as well as our atomic kinship with the universe itself.

    At least once a week, if not once a day, we might each ponder what cosmic truths lie undiscovered before us, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a clever thinker, an ingenious experiment, or an innovative space mission to reveal them. We might further ponder how those discoveries may one day transform life on Earth.

    Absent such curiosity, we are no different from the provincial farmer who expresses no need to venture beyond the county line, because his forty acres meet all his needs. Yet if all our predecessors had felt that way, the farmer would instead be a cave dweller, chasing down his dinner with a stick and a rock.

    During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore—in part because it's fun to do. But there's a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us. In that bleak world, arms-bearing, resource-hungry people and nations would be prone to act on their “low contracted prejudices.” And that would be the last gasp of human enlightenment—until the rise of a visionary new culture that could once again embrace the cosmic perspective"

    What do you think, or believe?


     
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Admirably narrated by Carl Sagan, and illustrated beautifully in the familiar "Pale Blue Dot"
     
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  5. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place.

    It tells me how insignificant I am .
     
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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    All of us timojin, and admirably illustrated in Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" video.
    Have you watched it? Quite thought provoking and impressive.
     
  8. river

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    Yet I don't see , think nor compare myself to the vastness of the Universe . I wonder , but never compare myself to it .

    Never crossed my mind .
     
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    ..like a lot of things....
     
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  10. river

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  11. river

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    It's the ideas not the " things " that are important .
     
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Yet you have some significance to the rest of us insignificants.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
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  13. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you for being polite.
     
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  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yet most people don't find the universe that kind of a place at all--even scientists, who know a lot more about it than we do, much less people with considerably less education.

    I went to Caltech (although I hasten to admit that I didn't get my degree there), so I know considerably more about the universe than the average person. It doesn't scare me, and I often encounter articles that increase my knowledge.

    As for being insignificant, perhaps you need to accomplish something that will make you, your family and your friends proud. Despite my professional credentials, most of the people who know me are more delighted by my musical endeavors.

    Yes, yes, the sun will turn into a red giant in about five billion years, which is a bit longer than it has already been in existence. At this time the Earth will become much too warm for habitation, and there's even a reasonable probability that the sun will expand into our orbit, vaporizing the planet.

    But considering what we've figured out about science and the universe in the past couple of millennia, in which scholarship as we know it has been more-or-less steadily advancing, I see no reason to assume that this scholarship will come to a halt and leave our distant descendants without transportation to another solar system, or even the ability to construct an artificial planet out in the middle of nowhere.
     
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  15. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Compared to war, all other areas of human endeavor shrink to insignificance."
    -- General George S. Patton, commander of allied 3rd army in Europe, WW2

    A line attributed to the general from the Francis Ford Coppola film "Patton", very popular at the time Sagan made his famous quote about the pale blue dot. No doubt, this quote was on his mind as he viewed the picture of Earth sent back from Voyager.

    Patton was right in a sense. If the international funding for maintaining armies and waging war was stopped for only a day, the human misery caused by hunger could be stopped for years, not to mention all that could be done to advance the cause of space exploration. Insignificance, it would seem, is in the eye of the beholder.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
  16. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    To answer the OP, I wanted to be an astronomer, but I knew my maths was inadequate for the task. What was the next largest thing, after the universe, that had a field of study? The planet. And so I became a geologist.

    By and large I now prefer geology to astronomy (especially if one includes planetology). There is, excuse me, something more down-to-Earth about it.
     
  17. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Nonsence.. And so many quotes are simply nonsence.. Yet if written by someone who would otherwise deserve respect folk take it as profound rather than stop and ask "is that right or is that a smart arse crack from a drunk?"... Or ask" does that even make sence? "
    No most humans strive to find the profound or hidden meaning.. So unfortunate.

    I like the one" what does not kill you will only make you stronger"... What crap so many injuries that near kill you will leave you weaker with a diminished life... Yet damn that saying sounds so good to blurt out with no thought...
    Alex
     
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  18. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Patton evidently believed himself to be one of many reincarnations of a romantic warrior the likes of Alexander the Great, whose legacy and impact on humanity and its ideas about the nature of war was similar in some respects to that of Genghis Khan.

    Patton had at his disposal the means to soundly defeat a megalomaniacal totalitarian state bent on imposing its iron resolve to do genocide on a large portion of the inhabitants of that pale blue dot floating in a vast ocean of mostly nothing.

    And Sagan captured perfectly, and as only he could at that moment in history, the insignificance and ultimate futility of all such endeavors in the vast scheme of the cosmos, even from a warrior and conqueror as capable as General Patton and his third army.

    Master and conquer instead the death and destruction of our own nature and the cold and inhospitable reality of the larger picture, and you might have accomplished an endeavor or three of slightly larger cosmic significance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    An admirable choice!

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    But let me ask you, how much planetology today depends on Satelliet technology, and the data from other space probes.
    Of course I am not nor would I ever denigrate any of the sciences: They all benefit human kind and we could not really do without any of them.
     
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  20. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

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    Almost all of it, but that's just using a sophisticated hammer.

    Correction (twenty seconds after posting the above): A great deal is based upon-

    1. Radar scans of planets and moons from the Earth.
    2. Spectroscopic examination of planetary atmospheres from the Earth.
    3. Meteorite studies.
    4. Laboratory experiments at high temperature and pressure to enable ....
    5. Modelling of planetary formation and subsequent development.
     
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