The Mind of the Cosmos: How Humans Found Our Way Back to the Center of the Universe
The more we learn about the universe, the more we move back to the center again.
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielHonan
Here is one of the great existential problems that caused a lot of 20th century angst: the more we learn about the universe, the more we realize how insignificant we are.
Here is 21st century science's answer to that: Humans are very sophisticated conglomerates of materials. We are very special indeed.
In the video below, Dartmouth professor Marcelo Gleiser walks us through some of the key milestones in our understanding of the universe, beginning with Copernicus telling us we are not at the center of the solar system, aka "the universe" as it was understood at the time. From Copernicus on, we grew less and less significant. Good heavens, our solar system is not even the center of the universe! Next, even our Milky Way galaxy is no big deal.
The universe is expanding, and we are learning that we are smaller and smaller. Thanks a lot, science!
And yet, as Gleiser explains, we are also learning about life in the universe. While there may be Earth-like planets, we know just how special the conditions must be for the existence of intelligent life. Consider, for instance, that humans are able to think about who we are and ask questions about the universe.
Amazingly, the more we learn about the universe, the more we move back to the center again.
Watch the video here:
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
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