Mind Blowing

A couple weeks ago, I read the Ask Marilyn column in Parade, and was blown away by her answer to a question about the stars.

To paraphrase, what we “see” when we look up into the sky isn’t necessarily current information.  Some of the stars we’re looking at have been dead for years (some, even millions of years).  So, in essence, we’re seeing the past in our present!  Now, I’m not scientifically minded – other than being a fan of Star Wars and other Sci-Fi movies – but when I read stuff like this, it blows my mind, and keeps me in awe about this universe in which we live.  We’re seeing things that aren’t there anymore, but because it takes so long for us to be able to view them, it appears as though they’re still alive.  When I wrap my head around that, I can’t help but be fascinated.

Sometimes I think science can take the beauty and magic out of something, all for the sake of labeling it so we “understand” it better.  Case in point:  A dandelion is this magical flower that’s a bright, sunny yellow in it’s heyday, then when it dies, turns into a still beautiful pompom-type flower full of what I used to call “wishies”.  To this day, whenever I pass a dead dandelion, I have the urge to pull it up, make a wish, and blow on it, sending my wish out into the cosmos.  It’s a childhood memory that I hope never goes away, no matter how much science wants to call a dandelion a “weed”.

And, truthfully, what do scientists know anyway?  Sure, they’ve got ideas and theories, but I believe there is at least one exception to every one of their theories.  Remember when the collective WE thought the atom was the smallest thing in the world?  How about when WE thought it would be impossible to reach the moon, or Mars?  This ability to view something that’s essentially in the past tells me, in no uncertain terms, that we don’t even have a handle on how to properly perceive time.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we stop looking for explanations – after all, scientists are also responsible for debunking the two theories above – but maybe they should add a caveat to any scientific breakthrough.  Maybe something suggesting that this is how we currently understand things, but we’re leaving the options open for more discoveries.  And maybe they already do this, I don’t know.  If so, great.

But back to the mysteries of our universe.  Whenever I ponder them, I realize why I’ll never need to use any mind-bending drugs.  Not that I’m judging people who enjoy that kind of escape, but all it takes for me to sit there & exclaim “Whoa!” in my best Ted “Theodore” Logan voice, is to ponder all the things that have come about in the last century.  Heck, even in just my lifetime!

I’ve lived through various stages of TVs; from a console heavier than your couch, to one you could lift and put on a table, and on to ones that can now be mounted right on your wall and aren’t any thicker than the largest Harry Potter book!  How about the morphing that happened from LPs to mp3 format over the years?  Or even the elimination of party lines and fast forward to cell phones no larger than your palm!

Twenty years ago, I had no idea what a gigabyte was, let alone that I could carry 8 GB worth of information on a little stick, the length of a Lego!  Even this blog — five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they’d told me I’d be writing my thoughts and impressions down somewhere for all to read on the internet!

I love to sit and think about these sorts of things, which I know is very Pollyanna of me.  But, by now I’m sure you’ve come to realize that’s largely my view of this world.  We’ve got our current understanding of how things work and what’s possible, but that gets altered daily.  I, for one, hope my mind will be blown constantly by all the newest technologies, and discoveries of things up in the sky.

What kinds of things do you find fascinating?


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kaye George
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 09:36:55

    Electricity for me. And flying. Even though my dad was an electrician, and I know how to wire stuff–have even done a bit of it–I can’t say I understand how electricity works. And I know, in my head, that the shapes of airplane wings and the rush of air under them makes perfect sense. But when I see a tiny airplane way, way up in the sky, it seems like magic. When I’m in one, it’s even more magical, looking down on the clouds.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Feb 25, 2011 @ 09:41:00

      Oooh, electricity. Good one, Kaye! & yes, flying is an amazing experience & one more of the great “mysteries” of life. My whole family is into aviation, so I totally know what you mean. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by & sharing!


  2. Craig
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 09:42:17

    Great Scott!
    I know… this is heavy!

    What the hell’s a Jigawatt?


  3. Craig
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 09:48:05

    What I find interesting, is the balance between centrifugal force, and gravity. If you all remember ‘the whip’ from your roller skating days. A spinning object tends to make things on it’s surface go away from it’s center. The faster the spin, or further from center, the greater the force. So, we are all trying to be flung into space by the earth, but also, being pulled back to it by gravity. Weird.
    What that means, is that if the Earth slowed down, or stopped spinning centrifugal force wouldn’t be there, and gravity would become too much for us, and everything would be smashed flat against the surface of the Earth.


  4. Kilt Kilpatrick
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 12:32:29

    I’m with you! (and by the way, scientists DO maintain that all our knowledge is provisional and subject to new info; of course there’re many things we know that are so solidly established it’s very unlikely we’ll to be found wrong about them sometime down the road)

    You know what everyday item still blows my mind? Recorded music. To be able to replicate and create sounds just using electricity is wonderful to me. And I’m really blown away when I see the crappy little wax cylinders Thomas Edison used, and think, okay, how on earth did he ever get the inspiration to think he could capture sounds electrically and replay them using a needle on a little tube of wax? Totally mundane, and yet it’s flabbergasting when you think about it.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Feb 25, 2011 @ 12:57:39

      Yeah, Edison is definitely a mystery to me: how he thought he could do this, & then, how he actually did it!

      And, thank you, Kilt, for letting me know that scientists include the provision. It’s nice to know that they’ve learned to be a little more humble over the centuries. 😉


  5. Dana
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 12:41:58

    Just about everything on this planet and beyond fascinates me… all the stuff mentioned above, and … well, everything. It means I will never be bored!


    • Alyx Morgan
      Feb 25, 2011 @ 12:58:45

      No doubt, Dana! I think the people who get bored in this world, aren’t really looking at all there is to see & do.

      Thanks to you (& Kilt) for stopping by today! 🙂


  6. Mom
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 12:55:12

    I hope the next time you see a dead dandelion you Stop, pick it, make a wish, and blow the wishies into the cosmos! Smiling all the while. I so enjoy my curios child-like energy that is fascinated by all these things, and sees the wonderment of them.


  7. Sandra Parshall
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 17:41:38

    I get the dead stars thing with no trouble at all. What I’ll never understand is how a monstrously heavy airplane stays up there without even flapping its wings.

    BTW, that little “wishie” is far from dead — those seeds are the most alive part of the dandelion plant, capable of reproducing many miles from their birthplace.


  8. Alyx Morgan
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 21:32:06

    LOL Can you imagine the horrible sounds if jets had to flap their wings just to stay up?

    Thank you for telling me that about the seeds, Sandra. That makes them even more magical to me! 😀

    And thank you for stopping by…


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