Learning (Can Be) Fun
Especially if you visit the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" Web site (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod). "Discover the cosmos!" the page encourages its visitors. "Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer."
Recent sightings included: "The Cat's Paw Nebula," "An Ion Drive for Deep Space 1" and "The Satellites That Surround Earth"--a zoom-in-zoom-out picture which looks at first for all the universe like a picture of Saturn with its rings, and which came with the following explanation:
"Thousands of satellites orbit the Earth. Costing billions of dollars, this swarm of high-altitude robots is now vital to communication, orientation, and imaging both Earth and space. One common type of orbit is geostationary, where a satellite will appear to hover above one point on Earth's equator. Geostationary orbits are very high up--over five times the radius of the Earth--and possible only because the satellite orbital period is exactly one day. It is usually cheaper to place a satellite in low Earth orbit, around 500 kilometers, just high enough to avoid the effect of Earth's atmosphere. The animated sequence starts by showing the halo of Earth's satellites, including the ring at geostationary, and finishes by zooming in on the only one currently hosting humans: the International Space Station."
What fun! And tomorrow's picture: Mars Arch.
Where Do You Go To Grow?
A "growing" number of the Web-based learning-prone are going to www.thinkarete.com and receiving information and inspiration in the comfort of private e-mail on their preferred schedule: daily, Mon/Wed/Fri, or weekly.
Thinkarete (pronounced think-ar-uh-tay and based on the Greek word for the process of self-actualizing and striving to reach your highest potential) is truly a thinking person's web site. "We believe," declares the thinkarete Web page, "that by looking at the universal truths taught by philosophers, religions, and current psychological research, we can find the keys to self-actualizing and happiness." Hence their mission: to
change the world by inspiring people to "thinkarete."
Thinkarete.com distills the intellectual, inspirational, and practical wisdom of the world's great self-actualization thinkers. On the site, you can check out hundreds of famous quotes, inspirational teachers, and collections of motivational works from the domains of:
Art, Athletics, Genius, Leadership, Optimal Living, Philosophy, Proverbs, Psychology Religion, Science, and of course that most famous of all areas of interest, Other.
Motivational works cited include such classics as Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen, The Road Less Traveled, by Robert Frost, The Man in the Glass, and more. Here is an excerpt from a recent sampling entitled "The Attitude Principle":
"...Scientists have done all kinds of research on this. They talk about 'locus of control'--aka, where you place control. Do you put control outside of yourself and have what they term an 'external locus of control'? Or do you take responsibility and have an 'internal locus of control'? Not surprisingly, you can test rats and humans and you'll find that, to the extent that you place control outside of yourself, you will be significantly less happy, less successful, less all the things you want to be, than if you internalize control.
"Philosophers have commented on the subject exhaustively as well--from ancient (Epictetus and Buddha) to more recent (James Allen) to contemporary (Steven Covey). Of course, we cannot always control what happens in our lives--but we can always control how we perceive what happens. And, oh, what a difference that makes.
"Lesson: Quit being a victim. Be a warrior."
The Universe Is Multi-Level
Ever hear of "parallel universes"? What if there's another you reading this magazine? A person who isn't you, really, but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect....
Uh oh. And you thought Rod Sterling and his early TV series, "The Twilight Zone," were long gone. According to a recent Scientific American article, this parallel universe idea is "not just a staple of science fiction: other universes are a direct implication of cosmological observations."
As author Max Tegmark explains, "The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10-to-the-1028th-power meters from here."
Granted, that's not exactly across town. In fact, Tegmark explains, "This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical--but that does not make your doppelgänger any less real."
10-to-the-1028th meters...can you hear the late Carl Sagen roundly pronouncing "billions and billions and billions..."? Tegmark continues, "There are infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices."
As if that's not enough, here: "The frontiers of physics have gradually expanded to incorporate ever more abstract (and once metaphysical) concepts such as a round Earth, invisible electromagnetic fields, time slowdown at high speeds, quantum superpositions, curved space, and black holes. Over the past several years the concept of a multiverse has joined this list. It is grounded in well-tested theories, such as relativity and quantum mechanics, and it fulfills both of the basic criteria of an empirical science: it makes predictions, and it can be falsified. Scientists have discussed as many as four distinct types of parallel universes. The key question is not whether the multiverse exists, but rather how many levels it has."
Hopefully, there's also a pay plan that pays to infinity.
Check out the site for more: www.sciam.com and look up, under "past issues," the May 2003 issue's cover article on "Parallel Universe."