Field of Science

International Year of Astronomy

It is the international Year of Astronomy, the IYA. If I was a better blogger I would have posted that on January 1st, but astronomers are busy after all it is our year.

The IYA will raise the public's awareness about astronomy through various outreach projects. For example you can have your own replica of Galileo's telescope, a Galieloscope, which is actually way better than Galileo's. Buy one for yourself, your friends/family, or donate some like I did.

If you haven't heard about the IYA yet I wouldn't be too surprised because apperantely most of the people on earth don't have their earthly efforts directed at the sky. Anyways being the international year of astronomy I thought I would mention an international link. I have been surprised at how often El Pais, a newspaper in Madrid has articles about astronomy, they seem to be really pushing it in a way I haven't seen American media do, but yes it is in Spanish so if you have an ugly american approach to international collaboration try this. Astronomy does get its day in the sun:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Derrick Pitts
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Turn Out the Lights

Pollution is not so great. Wouldn't it be great if we could stop pollution by simply hitting a switch? You can. Tonight switch off your lights at 8.30 PM and make a statement with Earth Hour.

Atlas Shrugged

I recently finished the epic book, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It stills holds some serious sway. Ayn Rand started an intense school of thought, objectivism, which basically says something like, "The gifted should do what’s in their self-interest. If you have a sharp mind, it is your moral responsibility to make yourself happy. The weak are not your problem." I won't delve into my thoughts on it, but clearly her perspectives are controversial. I will say two things about this, first, she does have excellent and convincing arguments and I would recommend the read. Second, everyone 's self-interest may well be tied together on this planet; Rand never seems to discuss the fundamental difference between talent and means to realize that talent (though she does decry violence as a means) so we could argue about philosophy, but that wont change the fact that many people on earth face a poverty gap and objectivists do agree on action.

That was just a primer for my deeper question. If humans can escape from earth, shouldn't we? Even if only some humans can escape when the deluge comes isn't it our moral imperative to do so? Ayn Rand obviously thinks so. I leave you with this: Tsiolkovsky, considered the father of human space flight (and the prime mover of the space elevator, but more on that later), said, "The earth is the cradle of the mind, but one does not live in a cradle forever."