Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tempting Top Ten: Universal and unique

For my A-Z blogging theme, I had grand visions of posting on subjects that were close to being universally popular - things that many people enjoy or are interested in - in attempt to broaden my blog's scope a little bit.

I don't think my grand vision got very far - even my tempting top ten chocolate list isn't exactly universal (though it still shocks me that there are people who do not like chocolate!).  I noticed lots of other people posting on music, movies, books, and types of art - everything from poetry to cooking to photography (and I had various A-Z posts on those things, too).  I love all the variety I've discovered via the A-Z blogfest. In fact if there is anything truly universal it's just the amazing scope of humanity's uniqueness... and yet from this huge pool of bloggers I still find so much in common, too.

For my top ten list today I'm posting 10 things (not in any particular order) that I find amazing about our universe. This comes from my love of  "space: the final frontier."  If your eyes start to glaze over as I list these facts and figures, just skip to the comment section, and tell me one thing (or more) that you think is universally important. Because I love to hear  your thoughts, even if you think my thoughts are a little too far "out there." (smile). 
A visualization of a wormhole (Wikipedia)

1. About 25% of the universe consists of "dark matter", and about 70% consists of "dark energy", leaving only about 5% of the universe visible to us.

2. If you could travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) it would still take 100,000 years to cross our galaxy

3. The moon actually has mirrors on it. They were left there by astronauts who wanted to bounce laser beams off them, so that the distance to the moon can be measured.

4. 1 million Earths can be fit in the Sun, 1300 Earths can be fit in Jupiter, 800 Earths can be fit in Saturn

5. Mars hosts the highest peak in the solar system, named Olympus Mons, with a height of around 80,000 feet (~24000 meters) which is more than 2.5 times the height of Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain.

5. If the sun stopped shining suddenly, it would take eight minutes for people on earth to be aware of the fact, because the sunlight takes around 8 minutes to reach the earth.

6. Even on the clearest night, the human eye can only see about 3,000 stars. There are an estimated 100,000,000,000 in our galaxy alone!

7. The space shuttles orbited the earth at a speed of 17,580 miles an hour (or 7860 m/s)

8. Personally, I think it's fascinating that no theory of gravity (even Einstein's) has been able to account for all the oddities that scientific study has uncovered, anomalies with fun names like "extra fast stars", "accelerating expansion of space", "the flyboy anomaly" and "dark flow."

9. There are at least 26 characteristics of the universe and 33 characteristics of our galaxy, solar system, and planet that are finely tuned for life (according to Dr. Hugh Ross).  Combining the odds of all these factors together results in such high probability against  life "naturally occurring" that we shouldn’t even be here – let alone alien life forms on another planet. However...

10. ... however, the Drake Equation has been used to estimate that in our vast universe, there might ten other planets with intelligent life. There are a huge number of assumptions that must be made for inputs into the Drake Equation, but theoretical equations like this and the ones that account for wormholes and other wild spacetime phenomena may be physically testable in the future, and meanwhile, they provide mind-bending fodder for science fiction (one of my favorite things).

What amazing thing do you love about our universe? Or what do you think is or should be universally important?

Note:  http://www.elegant-universe.webs.com/int.html is the source for the first 6 items on this list (plus many more amazing facts). The last 4 items were culled from Wikipedia and other Google search results for shuttle speed, gravitation, Dr Hugh Ross and the Drake Equation.

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