Friday, March 2, 2012

100 billion stars

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image obtained Feb. 3, 2012, of the nearby spiral galaxy M74. Bright knots of glowing gas light up the spiral arms, indicating a rich environment of star formation. Messier 74, also called NGC 628, is a stunning example of a grand-design spiral galaxy that is viewed by Earth observers nearly face-on. Its perfectly symmetrical spiral arms emanate from the central nucleus and are dotted with clusters of young blue stars and glowing pink regions of ionized hydrogen (hydrogen atoms that have lost their electrons). [...] In its entirety, it is estimated that M74 is home to about 100 billion stars, making it slightly smaller than our Milky Way.
Source: Washington Post

Some very misguided people focus on (and -- in extreme cases -- live for) the supposed 'end of the world' phenomenon. A very pessimistic path to be on, at the very least. Meanwhile around us, in stark contrast and clear contradiction to this limiting "it's all going to end" line of thought, the Universe is in a perpetual state of creative effervescence, constantly creating new and ever expanding life. Note the example above: brand-new stars (and, most likely, their accompanying planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc.) are popping out of the infinite ether, somewhere in the Universe, at every given instant.

Having put good use to our (God-granted?) gifts of logic and scientific reasoning, we have deduced that life here on Earth -- at least the carbon-based stuff we are currently familiar with -- still has a half billion or so good years to go (in other words, another 500,000,000 12-month revolutions around our still quite young and healthy Sun). The 'planet's end' is nowhere near "nigh." Our cute little solar system is going to be around "long time."

Like it or not, the carnival that is humanity is just getting started. It's critical we discard from our collective consciousness the idea that we will destroy ourselves and/or our planet. (An idea which - tragically - has become a self-fulfilling prophecy). We must choose a much more optimistic and inspiring "greater good" for ourselves. We can do it. To paraphase President Clinton, "There is nothing wrong with [humanity] that cannot be cured by what is right with [humanity]."

As I step off my soap box, I highlight the timeless wisdom contained in Bob Marley's revolutionary 1973 Get Up, Stand Up song:
Preacher man don't tell me heaven is under the earth
I know you don't know what life is really worth
Is not all that glitters is gold and
Half the story has never been told
So now you see the light, aay
Stand up for your right.

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