Science and stars

by Sofia

Today my witty Slovak calculus professor was in the middle of explaining some nuance of integration when he said “Nothing is alwayths true; there are no absolutes.” I stopped listening after that because I was taking in what he had just said. Seriously, has anyone ever spoken truer words?

I’ve been hanging out a lot with my brilliant friend Maziar, who is finishing his Master’s in economics, but whose real love is astrophysics. It’s because of him that I began to appreciate things like Slate’s top astronomy pictures of 2012, of which this picture of a dying star is my favourite.

U Camelopardalis

And it’s likely because of our conversations that I am reading Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time, which I am enjoying quite a bit. You hear about how science has been advancing exponentially, but I never realized just how radical the changes have been. For instance, it was less than a century ago, in 1924, that Edwin Hubble managed to prove that galaxies other than our own existed in the universe. At Hawking’s time of writing in 1988, we knew the size of our galaxy, our position in it, and the fact that it is one of several hundred thousand million. I can’t begin to imagine what we know now, almost 25 years later.

Lastly, lead was is making us crazy and violent. This is also the kind of project I’d be interested in doing for my MA.