Awesome Wife Have I

You know what we’re doing this fine Tuesday evening? We’re watching old episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation. That’s right, I said we are watching it!

Donna is the coolest wife in the world. I think that her not being a die hard trekkie, yet still enjoying watching it with me makes her super cool. She’s the woman that isn’t a geek (thus she retains her cool status), but loves ME enough to watch, and even enjoy, Star Trek episodes with me.

You know you’re jealous. 🙂

Oh, Rion.

Orion's BeltWe hustled into the house last night, because the air was so cold it froze together our nose hairs as we breathed. If you’ve ever walked in sub-zero temperature, you know exactly what I mean. 🙂 Before we opened the van door, however, Donna and I briefly gazed up at Orion, and his belt. While I’m usually the star gazer, Donna made my heart flutter a little when she mentioned Orion was her favorite constellation. That fact that she has a favorite constellation is cool, calling it by name is awesome.

As most things usually do, that got me thinking. What do you see when you look up at the stars? Are you amazed at our smallness? Do you find it odd that some of the twinkles are actually from millions of years ago, and some billions? Do you just see big and little dippers?

Whenever I gaze into the heavens, I am in awe. The universe is just that, awe inspiring. I want my kids to look up, and visit distant galaxies, wonder what the pink Orion Nebula smells like, and experience joy and sadness at the sheer immensity of “up.”

When they watch Star Trek, I want them to live vicariously through Captain Piccard and Wesley Crusher. When the space shuttle launches, I want them to think, “WOW!!! Those guys are going to SPACE!!!” I hope they believe interstellar travel is possible, it just hasn’t been invented yet. Never underestimate the power of dreams. Never underestimate the dreams the night sky can produce.

Look up my friend, look up.

What if C-A-T really spelled, Dog?

OgreRemember the original Revenge of the Nerds? It was an absurd 80’s movie. Some may say cult classic, some might say lame — some might say both. Anyway, there’s one line in the end, when Ogre joins the nerds, in which a drug induced nerd says, “What if along with infinite bigness, is infinite smallness?”

That’s followed by Ogre’s famous line, which is also the title of this blog entry.

What IF infinite smallness does exist though? And what does infinite bigness really mean? You’d have to be a total tool (the 80s did have fun slang, no?) to deny the similarity between atomic structure and interstellar structure. Both are governed by distinct energy types, and both interact similarly in some regards, and drastically different in others.

Is atomic energy (or quantum energy if you’re particularly geeky) and gravitational energy just an “energy order of magnitude apart” ? That opens up a ton of other questions, the likes of which I ponder often.

Where does magnetic energy fit into the bill? Is there a quantum equivalent to dark matter? Since the larger scale energy (gravity) sparks change in the quantum world (fusion in a star anyone?), is there a larger magnitude of energy and existence in play that we can’t detect? Are there infinitely many?

I find it really odd that EVERYTHING scales up. Atomic energy states are absurdly quick, and yet a black hole takes millions of years to eat a star. Same with orbital speeds, my very rough estimates seem to place them on scale too.

And still my brain trudges on…

If space and time can be warped (gravity does this, I’m not talking the Enterprise or anthing), are the ideas regarding non-linear space travel possible? Since time is our adversary when it comes to interstellar travels, should we focus on a solution to the problem of our short lives? If so, what is the best way to do that? Cybernetics? Stasis? Near light-speed travel? Generational ships?

These are the things I ponder, and I’m gravely concerned that our next generation will care more about youtube videos and blogs like this than in actual learning and exploration. NASA is worried that 20 somethings really don’t care about another trip to the moon, or a manned mission to Mars. Are we raising a generation no longer inspired by Star Trek? Is the Friday night trip to Atlantis now our end goal instead of a reason to explore in real life? Have special effects gotten better than reality?

I hope not. I really hope not.

Space is really big

AndromedaIt’s a little disheartening to think about the vastness of space, especially in contrast to the shortness of our lives. We talk about a “close” star being only 50 light years away — but holy cow. If my mother sent a message when I was born, I’d be dead before the congratulations ever got back from E.T.

Our 90ish years (and that’s only if I quit eating so much pizza) is such a small amount of time, that it’s a wonder any of us have bothered to discover the cosmos at all. It would be easy for a pessimist like myself to just forget about it. And yet, even I stare up at a billion year old picture of our universe every night, dreaming myself amongst the stars.

So what’s a 30+ year old man to do with himself? My only hope of travelling the cosmos will come from an amazing physicist here on earth discovering something “impossible”, or more likely an alien species gifting us interstellar magics. It’s quite a sad day when the more likely event is that of little green men coming to the rescue. Plus, in either event, *I* am really not a likely candidate for the free ride in a space car. I’m just a guy that wears a Spongebob t-shirt on the weekends…

Hmm, what are my choices? Freeze myself, in the hopes that in 1,000,000 years our descendants will just be aching to thaw out a Neanderthal like myself? Give up and drop some acid for a special “trip” of my own? (The answer there being “NO” of course…)

What I do is what mankind has always done — all that we can. I’ll keep reading science fiction books, watch on streaming TV when the space shuttle takes off, and prepare myself for huge philosophical debates when it turns out there is microscopic life on Mars. 🙂 I can only hope that our (by “our” I mean our generation) discoveries can help someday bring mankind to better and clearer understanding. And maybe, just maybe, evolve our collective intellect enough to handle an interstellar world. We can’t even handle an intercontinental one now…