News of 76 year old Stephen Hawking passing away March 14, 2018 arrived without point of reference. Hawking was timeless, his age inconsequential. A man who graced humanity with wonder, infectious wonder emanating from resolve to understand the universe.
“I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” – Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking was born January 8, 1942 – exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo. Interesting snippet, but not nearly as satisfying as the day he returned to the cosmos. Hawking enjoyed a good laugh, I choose to believe he slipped away with a smirk of ironic awareness – born on Galileo’s birthday, Hawking died on Albert Einstein’s birthday and International Pi Day.
March 14, 2018 – a day of mathematical reverence, Einstein accolades and Hawking reflection ended with an extravagant gesture of cosmic wonder. Powerful streams of solar wind flowing from a wide gash in the Sun’s atmosphere culminated in geomagnetic storm perfection.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Ponder your name on a microchip aboard a car sized solar probe traveling 692,000 Km/hour around the Sun. Imagine that probe entering the Suns’ atmosphere. How cool would it be if the first mission to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona carried your name. Would you see the Sun with fresh eyes knowing your name was part of an endeavor to explore solar wind?
The Parker Solar Probe begins a seven year, seven gravity assist Venus flyby, 93 million mile journey to the Sun in summer 2018. To commemorate humanity’s first visit to a star, NASA issued an open invitation – send your name to the Sun. Deadline, April 27, 2018. Get on board at –
Learn more at – https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/parker-solar-probe-humanity-s-first-visit-to-a-star
Inspired by Digital Universe Atlas ( definitive four dimensional map of our universe maintained by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History ) the museum created The Known Universe, part of their 2009 exhibit Visions of the Cosmos.
The Known Universe –
Ponder the pale blue dot – a gift of seasonal good will and New Year optimism from notestoponder..
What is the largest organism on Earth? Simple enough question, take a shot at the answer – giant sequoia, blue whale – not even close. Ponder a 5.5 kilometer across honey fungus in Oregon, our largest terrestrial organism.
Image via Factorialist.
Fungus inhabit the kingdom of Fungi. Neither plant or animal, science suspects member species of the fungal realm number in millions. Of 120,000 identified species – 300 are detrimental to humans, 8,000 attack plants, many more target animals. Before dismissing fungus as mushroom soup or nasty toenails, ponder a parasitic community boasting the largest organism on Earth.
Science defines individual life forms as organisms comprised of genetically identical cells, able to communicate and share a common purpose. Weighing an estimated 600 tons, Oregon’s behemoth Honey Fungus passes the single organism test with flying colours. Don’t go looking for a giant mushroom, most of this fungal monstrosity lurks below ground. A parasitic giant, entwined underground in colonized tendrils intent on dissolving roots of conifer forests above.
Fungi don’t photosynthesize, sustenance comes from absorbing nutrients dissolved by secretion of digestive enzymes. Science can’t say if it took two or eight thousand years for the world’s largest organism to occupy 2,384 acres, roughly the area of 1,665 football fields. It can say the largest individual organism on Earth is a fungal parasite named Honey. A mysterious, organic matter dissolving monster capable of sucking life from all it touches. Fungi freak me out.
In 1980 Carl Sagan took humanity to the Cosmos. In honour of Sagan’s dedication to bring wonder and thought provoking insight to the masses – a clip for those who share my regard for one of the greatest minds in history. Ponder Millions, Billions and Trillions, all the illions of Cosmos taken in order.
Still beaming from Cosmos illions, I can’t resist offering – We Humans Are Capable of Greatness…
Over thirty years ago astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term Supermoon, he defined it as –
… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.
Once each month the Moon is full (opposite Earth from the Sun), once a month new (between Earth and the Sun). The closest point of orbit is called perigee, farthest point, apogee. By definition Supermoon occurs at perigee, this happens 4 – 6 times a year. All perigee moons are Supermoons, not all Supermoons are full moons. On December 3 the first and only full supermoon of 2017 happens worldwide at 15:47 UTC. (Translate to your time zone at – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/universal-time )
December’s full moon is known as the long night or wolf moon in native American folklore. Ponder all things moon courtesy Eartsky astronomy essentials at – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names
Poor weather needn’t squelch inclination to howl at the super wolf moon. Linked below, the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome, access to remote robotic telescopes and live streaming of astronomical events.