the View from the Podium
Starry, Starry Night
Today's View from the Podium turns its gaze heavenward and contemplates the stars, the planets, comets, that bird about to smack into my windshield, and other random bits of Universe that course through our fair skies here on planet Earth. In case you haven't heard, astronomers have discovered yet another exo-planet, that is, a planet revolving around a star not our sun. So before those brainy little telescope-twerps discover a superior race of aliens who invade the Earth and turn it into a tacky rest area on some intergalactic freeway, I feel compelled to document for what could be the last time, just how we figured out there was lots of Universe out there, and not so much Earth as we had originally thought.
|I totally hope those blue dudes from "Avatar" live here!|
|This is the best position for dudes because we don't have vaginas|
|They didn't name Uranus Uranus because they never found|
Uranus. The Greeks did. See previous picture.
|I was drunk when I wrote that song|
|Has anybody seen my pants?|
You see, Copernicus thought the sun was the center of the entire universe, not just the solar system. AND he thought that the planets revolved around the sun in perfect circles (they don't). AND he thought that kissing-up to the Pope in his book's dedication would keep it off of the list of books the Church wanted to burn and execute anyone who ever read it (it didn't).
Soooo, a Reformation of sorts was needed. Martin Luther (no relation to Martin Luther King jr --that would be just silly!) accomplished the religious part, and Johannes Kepler and his pal, Tycho Brahe accomplished the astronomical part. Kepler was a gifted mathematician and former teacher who formulated the Three Laws of Planetary Motion. Brahe was an off-da-hook party-animal who had a gold prosthetic nose, had a pet stag, kept a dwarf named Jepp in his court as its official tiny-guy, and had the most accurate astronomical observations in the whole world before astronomers started using telescopes to view the heavens. Their partnership fixed the planetary orbit shapes mistake (an ellipse with the sun at one end of the focus). But still, the sun remained at the center of the Universe.
|That's just dumb. I'm the center of the Universe, you bea-atch-ez.|
|My telescope is bigger than yours.|
And yes, size does matter.
Since Hubble made his breakthrough, more fascinating details have emerged: that the galaxies are flying away from each other at ever increasing speeds; that there's something called "dark matter" that is invisible but really powerful; that there are Black Holes, Pulsars, Quasars and Neutron Stars; that the Universe itself used to be squeezed into a wicked-hot, wicked-dense state called a "Singularity" (and not riding on the back of Jebby, the Cosmic Anteater, as previously posited in this blog), and that an event called either the Big Bang, Great Bang, Awesome Gang-Bang, or other pithy turn of phrase created everything in the Universe almost instantaneously. Everything. Even time, space, matter, anti-matter, subatomic particles, quarks, strings, and maybe even what the Catholic Church called Heaven, Hell and God. The Church agrees with a lot of this stuff these days, except for the God-stuff. For some reason, they cling to their ignorant, Medieval notions that they, and they alone, get to tell you stuff about God. I wonder what God thinks about that attitude?
|Smite them! Better yet, just let them keep smiting themselves.|
In a way, I kind of liked the Church's view of everything. I mean, everything seems so big now and I feel so tiny. Then again, being the center of the Universe was a lot of pressure --I mean, what if we humans screwed up and, I don't know, didn't live according to God's commandments. What if we didn't really love our neighbors as we love ourselves (and not in a creepy sexual way, you weirdos!) What might the world look like if that were the case?
|Oh! Good point!|