Posts tagged: Science

Stardust

By , February 7, 2010

Astronomer Geoffrey Burbidge died recently. I must confess that I’d never heard of him until I read his obituary in today’s paper. His renown came from a 1957 paper in which he put forth the notion that all life can be traced to stardust.

Currently Playing: Artie Shaw – Stardust

I really, really like this idea. I can’t pretend to understand a word of it, but it has something to do with ancient stars burning hydrogen, helium, and lithium, producing heavier elements like oxygen and carbon, then exploding these newly minted atoms into space where they mixed with cosmic dust, and formed new stars. Those new stars became old stars, exploded, seeded the universe further, and eventually the universe became enriched with heavier elements that ended up on planets and inside people like you and me.

Burbidges longtime friend, Allan Sandage of Carnegie Observatories, explained it in a far more poetic fashion: “Every one of our chemical elements was once inside a star. The same star. You and I are brothers. We came from the same supernova.”

I feel better about myself already. I’m made of stardust? Wow! Today will definitely be a good day. Dare I say it will be… stellar? How can’t it be? I woke up thinking I was a combination of gin, coffee, and Cesar’s tapas; we are what we eat, after all. Now I’m about to take a shower and face the world armed with the knowledge that I’m powered by the remnants of a supernova.

Hell yeah. Bring it on, world…

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Even Galactus is only made of planets.

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Life-Changing Technology

By , March 7, 2004

It sometimes seems that new technologies surface on a daily basis. Society is constantly being bombarded with new inventions, and improvements upon old ones. I ignore most of them, and when I do adopt some new device, I tend to do so begrudgingly. The mobile telephone is a perfect example of this. Due to the nature of my job, I was among the first people to start using a mobile phone when they became readily available to the non-wealthy members of the populace, but I regretted having to do so; I needed one because I sometimes have to coordinate and manage as many as 40 or more people, working on 5 or more simultaneous events in all corners of the Bay Area.

Every now and then something really great comes along and changes my life for the better. For instance:

Laptop– It has freed me to do many things I could not do before. Whether it’s something simple like forwarding my calls to my mobile phone (which I now happily embrace) and working remotely from a cafe, the beach, a park, or basically anywhere, or something wonderful like having access to thousands of mp3s at the touch of a button when I DJ, my laptop has markedly improved my life.

Sonicare toothbrush– I used to hate going the the dentist, and brushing my teeth was just a bland daily routine. In the few years I’ve had my Sonicare I’ve come to relish not only the brushing, but the flattering remarks from the dentist about how sparklingly clean my teeth are.

DVD player– I enjoy watching movies (who doesnt’?), but I seldom purchased them on VHS tapes, as they didn’t seem to last very long. Now that DVDs exist, I have free reign to buy all my favorite films, or at least the ones that are available as DVDs, without fear of them wearing out. I must have well over 100 films by now, and I must confess– I had about 20 before I finally bought a DVD player.

Those three are all that come to mind. Like I said, I ain’t much for technology. I live in a Tiki Lounge and drive a car from the 1950s; it is clear I am not an “early adopter.”

Today’s Question: Have any technological advances bettered your ilfe?

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