divineirony:

Carl Sagan

divineirony:

Carl Sagan

How much more satisfying had we been placed in a garden custom-made for us, its other occupants put there for us to use as we saw fit. There is a celebrated story in the Western tradition like this, except that not quite everything was there for us. There was one particular tree of which we were not to partake, a tree of knowledge. Knowledge and understanding and wisdom were forbidden to us in this story. We were to be kept ignorant. But we couldn’t help ourselves. We were starving for knowledge - we were created hungry, you might say. This was the origin of all our troubles. In particular, it is why we no longer live in a garden: We found out too much. So long as we were incurious and obedient, I imagine, we could console ourselves with our importance and centrality, and tell ourselves that we were the reason the Universe was made. As we began to indulge our curiosity, though, to explore, to learn how the Universe really is, we were expelled from Eden. Angels with flaming arrows were set as sentries at the gates of Paradise to bar our return. The gardeners became exiles and wanderers. Occasionally, we mourn that lost world, but that, it seems to me, is maudlin and sentimental. We could not happily have remained ignorant forever.
There is no shortcut to truth, no way to gain knowledge of the universe except through the gateway of the scientific method.
How much more satisfying had we been placed in a garden custom-made for us, its other occupants put there for us to use as we saw fit. There is a celebrated story in the Western tradition like this, except that not quite everything was there for us. There was one particular tree of which we were not to partake, a tree of knowledge. Knowledge and understanding and wisdom were forbidden to us in this story. We were to be kept ignorant. But we couldn’t help ourselves. We were starving for knowledge - we were created hungry, you might say. This was the origin of all our troubles. In particular, it is why we no longer live in a garden: We found out too much. So long as we were incurious and obedient, I imagine, we could console ourselves with our importance and centrality, and tell ourselves that we were the reason the Universe was made. As we began to indulge our curiosity, though, to explore, to learn how the Universe really is, we were expelled from Eden. Angels with flaming arrows were set as sentries at the gates of Paradise to bar our return. The gardeners became exiles and wanderers. Occasionally, we mourn that lost world, but that, it seems to me, is maudlin and sentimental. We could not happily have remained ignorant forever.
divineirony:

Carl Sagan

divineirony:

Carl Sagan

Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations. We have broadened the circle of those we love. We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together — surely a humanizing and character building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth. Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant. They will fear the loss of power. We will hear much about treason and disloyalty. Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones. But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing.
“The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there’s no place for it in the endeavour of science”.
Indeed, like many notions in today’s science, it appears to violate common sense. But common sense is based upon everyday experience, not upon the universe as it is revealed through the marvels of technologies such as those that allow us to gaze deep into the atom of back to the early universe.
But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, would it have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?
dead-logic:

Richard Dawkins.

dead-logic:

Richard Dawkins.

(Source: thedragoninmygarage)

6. If there is no God, then is perfection attainable in the universe?

There is nothing in the universe that is static or eternal, so because of that there can never be perfection. There can a more or less valid way of making or building something (or whatever else you can think of) but you can never have perfection. This is the case with or without a (belief in) god. 

So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would neither be created nor destroyed … it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?
quantumaniac:

There is No Such Thing as Absolute Time
According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, there is no such thing as absolute time. What this means is that there is no universal ‘clock’ ticking the time - every frame of reference has its own perception of time. Thus, there’s no such thing as an absolute present - or future, or past. 
All time on Earth is relatively the same for all reference frames because all humans are not moving very fast - and nowhere near light speed. However, if we were moving at drastically different speeds, we would find that time ticks more slowly for the person moving more quickly - we would age at different rates! Similarly, if one of us was closer than the other to a major gravity well like the Earth, we would age slower than someone who wasn’t.
GPS satellites, of course, are both moving quickly and at significant distances from Earth. So their internal clocks show a different time to the receivers on the ground. A lot of computing power has to go into making your sat-nav work around the theory of special relativity.

quantumaniac:

There is No Such Thing as Absolute Time

According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, there is no such thing as absolute time. What this means is that there is no universal ‘clock’ ticking the time - every frame of reference has its own perception of time. Thus, there’s no such thing as an absolute present - or future, or past. 

All time on Earth is relatively the same for all reference frames because all humans are not moving very fast - and nowhere near light speed. However, if we were moving at drastically different speeds, we would find that time ticks more slowly for the person moving more quickly - we would age at different rates! Similarly, if one of us was closer than the other to a major gravity well like the Earth, we would age slower than someone who wasn’t.

GPS satellites, of course, are both moving quickly and at significant distances from Earth. So their internal clocks show a different time to the receivers on the ground. A lot of computing power has to go into making your sat-nav work around the theory of special relativity.

quantumaniac:

Solar Eclipse vs. Lunar Eclipse

Although many people confuse the terms and use them interchangeably, there is, of course, a distinct difference between these two types of eclipse. As soon from Earth, a solar eclipse is when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth - effectively blocking out the sun. In this case, one would only seen the moon, with a bright ring around it (shown above on the left.) Seeing the moon is what causes people to confuse it with a lunar eclipse. Solar eclipses can only happen when the lunar calendar is in the total eclipse phase. A solar eclipse does not necessarily mean the entire sun is blocked out - but this is called a total solar eclipse. 

Interestingly, if the moon was in a perfectly circular orbit - there would be a total solar eclipse during every new moon, or once a month. Unfortunately, the Moon’s orbit is angled at about 5 degrees relative to the Earth’s orbit, so it doesn’t line up as often! Don’t believe it when people say it is safe to look directly at the eclipse, it is still dangerous! 

In contrast with only occurring during a new moon, a lunar eclipse can only occur during a full moon. During a lunar eclipse, the Earth is aligned in between the Moon and the Sun - exactly or as closely as possible. In this way, the Earth blocks the Sun’s rays from striking the Moon directly. 

Additionally, solar eclipses can only be seen from small areas of the Earth - while a lunar eclipse can be seen anywhere on whatever is the night side of the Earth at the moment. Lunar eclipses also last much longer, a few hours compares to a mere few minutes!