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The first frightening thing you learned about the universe
Posted: 23 June 2010 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]
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For me, it was learning that the Sun was going to destroy Earth someday.  The 5 billion years notwithstanding, I would find myself casting an anxious look at the Sun every now and then.  I was only eight, for crying out loud.

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Posted: 23 June 2010 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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For me it was when I first realized just how inconceivably huge the universe is and how long it would take to get to another star.  The idea that we’re basically trapped in this one little solar system is kind of depressing.  I’ve always loved science-fiction and the whole idea of interstellar travel.  The realization that FTL travel is nigh impossible and that it would take decades (at best) to reach even the closest stars was a big letdown.  Oh well.

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Posted: 23 June 2010 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The scariest and most awesome thing I learned about the universe was when I stopped to think about the ramifications of being out in a space capsule where there would be NO boundaries ANYWHERE. No FLOOR, no CEILING, no WALLS…nothing… that was terrifying.

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Posted: 23 June 2010 04:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Damn, I never thought of myself as being similar to Spock, but as I learned all of those things as a kid, I just thought, “fascinating”.  Never had the ‘terrifying’ experience.  blank stare

Occam

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Posted: 23 June 2010 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Occam - 23 June 2010 04:00 PM

Damn, I never thought of myself as being similar to Spock, but as I learned all of those things as a kid, I just thought, “fascinating”.  Never had the ‘terrifying’ experience.  blank stare

Occam

The rest was cool, it was just the lack of boundaries (for someone afraid of heights) that blew my mind. If there is no UP, there is no ‘height’. It took a minute to wrap my mind around that!

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Posted: 23 June 2010 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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That’s funny.  As a seven year old, I was quite scared when we went up in a tower and looked down with very little to prevent us from falling.  However, I enjoyed lying on the grass, looking up at the sky and imagining that gravity didn’t exist and I could just float away.  Interesting cognitive dissonance.

Occam

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Posted: 23 June 2010 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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What is more frightening are GRB (gamma-ray bursts) within about 3,260 light years from the earth and directed at it.

From the wiki on gamma-ray burst

A gamma-ray burst in the Milky Way, if close enough to Earth and beamed towards it, could have significant effects on the biosphere. The absorption of radiation in the atmosphere would cause photodissociation of nitrogen, generating nitric oxide that would act as a catalyst to destroy ozone. According to a 2004 study, a GRB at a distance of about a kiloparsec could destroy up to half of Earth’s ozone layer; the direct UV irradiation from the burst combined with additional solar UV radiation passing through the diminished ozone layer could then have potentially significant impacts on the food chain and potentially trigger a mass extinction.

Another potential catastrophe is the possibility that a runaway or hypervelocity star could pass through the solar system, causing the earth to move out of the solar system and become a wandering planet with no sun to provide energy and sustain life.

[ Edited: 23 June 2010 07:41 PM by kkwan ]
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Posted: 23 June 2010 08:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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asanta - 23 June 2010 03:47 PM

The scariest and most awesome thing I learned about the universe was when I stopped to think about the ramifications of being out in a space capsule where there would be NO boundaries ANYWHERE. No FLOOR, no CEILING, no WALLS…nothing… that was terrifying.

Yea and then you got to watch that Astronaut Ed White step outside his Gemini space craft, seeing that still blows me away, floating at like 18 thousand miles an hour, 800 miles above the Earth, WOW!

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Posted: 23 June 2010 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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oh the question at hand, first frightening thing I learned about the universe was that I really hated being forced into small confined places - please give me lots of wide open space around me.
I remember seeing the first close up images of the sun’s roiling surface that was a bizarre in my belly experience for a moment.

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Posted: 24 June 2010 04:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I don’t find anything actually frightening about the universe, but one thing makes me melancholy: the odds are overwhelming that we will never contact an alien civilization.

I guess I should find the universe frightening. After all, the universe is out to kill us, but I guess since the universe hasn’t thrown a big rock out direction in 65 million years and I’ll only be around an infinitesimally short fraction of that time the odds of the universe destroying me are only slightly higher than the odds of us contracting aliens, so I don’t worry about it. But if you look at the astronomy literature you’ll see all manner of death, destruction and mayhem occurring throughout the universe. We have even found a black hole blasting a nearby galaxy with lethal radiation. And some people still believe the universe is fine tuned for life.

I guess the most frightening known thing about the universe is mankind, because civilization is exceedingly rare and here we are destroying ours while the vast majority of people go about their lives glibly denying anything is wrong.

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Posted: 24 June 2010 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Perhaps the thing that terrified (terrifies) me the most about the universe is the theory, which I read about just a few months ago, that the whole universe is actually a 2-dimensional construct, and what
we experience is just one vast hologram. Disturbing, deeply disturbing.

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Posted: 24 June 2010 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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That the universe is fundamentally two dimensional does not make the 4 dimensional perception of it a hologram.

In truth, I think that the universe being reducable to 2 dimension was logical, as you can already express 3 or 4 dimensional events as 2 dimensinal mathematical formulas. And in much the same way that math vastly improved our understanding of the universe, if we could eliminate the need to interpret 2 dimensions as 4, and then reduce it BACK to 2 [in order to] calculate we would have far more understanding and, hence, control.

...But was scares ME about the universe is how little interest the majority of our populations have in (really) understanding it. I mean, how many people would agree or understand something as simple as stating that the earth travels in a straight line.

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Posted: 24 June 2010 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Stormy Fairweather - 24 June 2010 02:12 PM

...But was scares ME about the universe is how little interest the majority of our populations have in (really) understanding it. I mean, how many people would agree or understand something as simple as stating that the earth travels in a straight line.

None, I would hope.

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Posted: 24 June 2010 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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asanta - 23 June 2010 04:03 PM
Occam - 23 June 2010 04:00 PM

Damn, I never thought of myself as being similar to Spock, but as I learned all of those things as a kid, I just thought, “fascinating”.  Never had the ‘terrifying’ experience.  blank stare

Occam

The rest was cool, it was just the lack of boundaries (for someone afraid of heights) that blew my mind. If there is no UP, there is no ‘height’. It took a minute to wrap my mind around that!

I think I can handle that one, but no before and after??? That’s much harder to wrap your head around, if indeed we should be.

Stephen

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Posted: 24 June 2010 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Stormy Fairweather - 24 June 2010 02:12 PM

That the universe is fundamentally two dimensional does not make the 4 dimensional perception of it a hologram.

In truth, I think that the universe being reducable to 2 dimension was logical, as you can already express 3 or 4 dimensional events as 2 dimensinal mathematical formulas. And in much the same way that math vastly improved our understanding of the universe, if we could eliminate the need to interpret 2 dimensions as 4, and then reduce it BACK to 2 [in order to] calculate we would have far more understanding and, hence, control.

Whatever. Still scares the hell out of me. wink

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Posted: 24 June 2010 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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DarronS - 24 June 2010 02:24 PM
Stormy Fairweather - 24 June 2010 02:12 PM

...But was scares ME about the universe is how little interest the majority of our populations have in (really) understanding it. I mean, how many people would agree or understand something as simple as stating that the earth travels in a straight line.

None, I would hope.

Gavity works by bending space.

If you travel in a straight line in curved space, then it is the curvature of that which will dictate your path.

Mathematicly, the earth travels in a straight line.

Kinda why inertia does not throw matter off the planet as in travels at 36 000 kph in what amounts to a doughnut track.

Edit - Explaining that was more complex that I had assumed.

[ Edited: 24 June 2010 05:27 PM by Stormy Fairweather ]
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