Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Infinity

My ten year old is getting a telescope for Christmas (all this travel yields a fair number of Amex points which converted nicely to a decent telescope). Don't tell her that.

Owning a telescope in a metropolitan area leaves a lot to be desired, I suppose. When I was a Cub Scout, I recall that one of the things that we had to do to get a merit badge was see a satellite in the night sky. I recall all of us laughing at that because we could hardly see the stars! And in ca. 1972, there were no Internet sites that would enable you to schedule a time to see one fly over. There also were a whole lot fewer satellites in general.

When I moved to Quincy, Illinois to attend college, I can still remember going outside one night and looking up and suddenly seeing all sorts of stars in the night sky (along with a few airplanes and satellites). It was amazing. I wish I had that telescope then.

The infinite reaches of space always amaze me. It boggles my mind when you look at a star and realize that what you're seeing today happened many years ago. The star may not even exist today. I have a hard time with the whole "Earth is round" thing. I know it, but I have never really experienced it. I can certainly understand how people felt thousands of years ago. Guess I need to join the Flat Earth Society.

I was watching a program the other day that discussed how people would travel to Mars some day. That sort of math is far beyond my meager abilities. It looks so simple in a computer simulation, but the math behind it is insane. And I have to sit and shake my head when some astronomer talks about getting glimpses of the formation of the universe because of the vast expanse of space and time. My head hurts.

So I always have to laugh when someone wants to assign a retention period of "Permanent" or, periodically, "Infinity". Sure, yep, we'll get that calculated for you right away...

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