Lucy, you got some ‘splaing to do!

So I feel the need to explain some of the concepts and lines used in the two videos I’ve linked earlier in this blog, “A Glorious Dawn” and “We Are All Connected”. I understand that some people can’t get past the ’70s special effects and dress and whatnot, and as such can’t take the videos seriously. For those people, I feel for you, I really do, because if the packaging is that important to you, you’ll miss out on so much of what has made life worth living.

But on to the stuff that pertains to these videos, here’s the big thing: everything they say in those videos is more or less true, and when I say that, I mean that some of the seemingly outlandish and strange statements they make is not, repeat, NOT, artistic licensing at work. Here’s some examples:

When Sagan says, “The cosmos is also within us. We’re made of starstuff”, he means it. Literally. Nearly every single molecule that comprises your body right now was once at the heart of a star. Think about that. Really think about it. How did it get from there to here? How could it travel across a distance so vast that the only way we have to conceivably measure it is the amount of time that light (which zips along at a lazy 299,792,458 meters per SECOND) travels in a freaking year! How does that get here? Supernovas. An explosion so massive it propels matter out at 1/10th the speed of light and creates new atomic nuclei from pre-existing ones, a process called nucleosynthesis.

Big Ba-Da-Boom

Big Ba-Da-Boom


At this point I gotta ask, penny for your thoughts? Though if you’ve got a penny, you’ve got proof of the process, because no metal higher than nickel can be formed naturally without the unimaginable temperatures and pressures that occur within a supernova. The fact that your penny is the remnant of an exploding star makes it seem a little bit more valuable, does it not? Though it’s only neat that it’s a star remnant right up until the point that you realize that so are YOU. Neil deGrasse Tyson talked about this too, “We’re all connected, to each other, biologically, to the earth, chemically, to the rest of the universe, atomically.” When you realize that we’re all proverbial children of the same star, it makes a lot of the -isms seem petty (racism, sexism, nationalism, etc). Arrange the molecules a bit differently and your skin is a different color, or you change sexes, nationalities, even ideologies. The body and brain are amazingly complex, but when you break it down, the things that make us different from anyone else is the arrangement of particles within us, how the neurons are mapped out, how it’s all connected. Change that and you change everything. Hence Sagan’s line, “The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”

[UPDATE]: Speaking of supernovas: This came out today, we’ve spotted GRB 090423. Quite the unassuming name for the oldest and most distant object ever seen by man, no? GRB stands for gamma ray burst, which are the most violent explosions known to exist and are known to be up to 10 million times brighter than the brightest of galaxies. That, my friends, is fucking crazy. And it gets better. The exploding mega-star that caused GRB 090423 was one of the oldest in the universe, forming a mere 400,000 years after the Big Bang. Molecules weren’t re-ionized (electrically charged) until about 800-900 million years after the big event, so the star didn’t light up until then, and then “flashed and crashed” shortly thereafter at the end of these cosmic dark ages. This means that the light that is just now getting to us has been traveling this way for over 13.1 billion years. Let me spell this one out for you, it spent 13,100,000,000 years while going at ~670,616,629 mph. If that doesn’t blow your mind, well, congratulations, you’re dead.

GRB 090423 is the red dot in the center. It's red due to a property of light traveling over great distances known as red-shifting.


Posted on 10/29/2009, in Geekiness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. *applause!* Very well presented. It’s a humbling concept, especially when you get to “How many stars had to explode to make all this stuff around me?”

  2. You’re right! We (me included) should have paid more attention to the words.

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