Searching for contentment
This is what fascinates me most in existence:
the peculiar necessity of imagining what is, in fact, real.
– Philip Gourevitch
epigraph to Blindsight by Peter Watts >
Letters from an American (continued) …
I started reading Professor Cox Richardson's daily letters last year, and wrote about them at that time: Professor Heather Cox Richardson: Letters from an American⩘ . I've continued to read them daily and have find that they help me tremendously to understand the constitutional crisis we are facing, as well as its historical context (Richardson is a Professor of History at Boston College⩘ ).
I found today's letter particularly important as it answered very well a key question she has been hearing from readers of her letters.
A lot of folks have been asking me lately if America has ever been in such a crisis before and, if so, what people in the past did to save democracy.
To read her answer, see her letter dated February 22, 2020⩘ .
Well narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
It took me awhile to get into the rhythm of this story, and while it wasn't the best I've come across in this genre, what made it fascinating is its setting, far north in the Sápmi, the territory of the Sámi people, a region spread across Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. For me, it was a real journey of discovery, opening my eyes to a part of the world and a people I hadn't previously known about.
Grand Central Publishing, 2014, Downpour⩘
There doesn't seem to be any normal to the weather anymore. Fortunately, though, we've had a good bit of snow so far this winter (in our area, we depend on the winter snowpack for our next summer's water supply). One snowfall in mid-December dropped 26″ of dense snow overnight. Sure was beautiful when the sun rose the next morning, though it took us two days to shovel out from that one! I took this two days later when we finally were able to drive down to the mailboxes at the bottom of our neighborhood.
Dedicated to my good friend Thomas Hey'l
who has inspired me to look at design more deeply
and to take even more care about precision.
Although I'm still relatively new to the universe of amateur radio, I've already enjoyed enough interesting learning experiences as well as stubbed my toes enough times to have gained a few insights that I think are worth sharing.
I'm writing these notes as my way to keep track of what I'm learning (and also just for fun, as I love writing as much as learning). Basically, this is a collection of info I wish I had found online when I was browsing for insights: AmateurRadioNotes.com⩘ .
Sharks kill an average of 10 people per year. People kill around 100,000,000 sharks per year 1. People also kill approximately 425,000 people per year, topped only by mosquitoes, which kill about 725,000 people per year 2.
And we worry about sharks?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
People walk at an average pace of about 2.5 miles per hour.
Meanwhile, light travels about 186,000 miles per second, or about 11,160,000 miles per hour. It would take light about 0.13 seconds to travel around the Earth,
1.3 seconds to travel the 238,900 miles from the moon to the Earth,
8.3 minutes to travel the 93,000,000 miles from the sun to Earth, and 1.3 hours to travel the 890,000,000 miles from the sun to Saturn. To get a glimpse of an idea of just how far away Saturn is, see If the Moon were only 1 pixel⩘ by Josh Worth.
At the scale of the solar system, the Earth is a spec of dust. 1,300,000 Earths could fit within our sun.
Our sun, as big as it is, is just a tiny twinkle of light in a suburb of the Milky Way galaxy. Its light takes 28,000 years to travel to the center of the Milky Way.
One light year is just short of six trillion miles (5,878,625,000,000). The Milky Way has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years, and contains as many as 400 billion stars, which together create a smidgen of light in our local group of galaxies.
The light of the Milky Way takes about 2,300,000 years to travel just to the nearby Andromeda galaxy. Isn't it amazing that by using our inherent art of visualization, we can be there, instantly, in this moment.
The observable universe is estimated to contain as many as two trillion galaxies. To get more perspective on this eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) Hubble image, see the short video: Hubble Legacy Field Zoom-Out⩘ . Make sure to read the notes, too.
To get a glimpse of an idea of just how big the observable universe is, see Neal Agarwal's fun website, The Size of Space⩘ .
And we worry about anything?
By the way, because of the Earth's spin, if you're standing still at the equator, you're actually moving at about 1,667 km/hour (1,037 miles/hour). The Earth is orbiting our sun at approximately 30 km/sec (67,108 miles/hour). Our sun is orbiting the center of our Milky Way Galaxy at approximately 250 km/sec (560,000 miles/hour). And our galaxy is moving through our universe at approximately 600 km/sec (1,340,000 miles/hour). Don't blink!
All distances and times are approximate.
- Inspiration: "New 3D map of the Milky Way shows we live in a warped galaxy⩘ ," NBC News, 2019.
- A related video: The Exhilarating Peace of Freediving by Guillaume Néry⩘ (really, it's related).
- Another related, and fun, video: Every Kind of Thing in Space⩘ by Domain of Science.
- Related project: A team of five French amateur astrophotographers has assembled an amazing gallery of Souther Sky deep space images from their observatory in Chile, Ciel Austral⩘ .
- Hiking trail in Cow Creek valley⩘ by Toshen, CC by NCSA⩘
- Blue Marble, 2012, Earth image⩘ by NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
- Full moon image⩘ by Toshen, CC by NCSA⩘
- Saturn⩘ by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
- Sun, from the video Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun⩘ by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
- The Milky Way in Yosemite⩘ by bgwashburn⩘ is licensed under CC BY 2.0⩘ (cropped)
- Milky Way in Summer: VL test PSP8⩘ by gjdonatiello⩘ is licensed under CC CC0 1.0⩘ (cropped)
- Andromeda⩘ by NASA/JPL-Caltech
- Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF)⩘ : NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team