Morning walk – 28 Feb 2017

It isn’t much of a sunrise here near my house so this is the best bet.

I walked twice around the block, maybe 1.5k just to get an active start for today. Semester starts today so what could be better than this to boost up the day waiting ahead?

Advertisements

My first astronomy observation

Yeah! So it was last month and our astro club had planned for a trip to a mountain called Wu Shan in Tainan. It was not just my university, there were around eight other Taiwanese universities including NTU and NCTU. This trip was meant to observe the night sky. Well, to be honest, this would be quite normal for the people who are active in the club but for a lad like me who had not opportunities enough to witness the night sky closely, it was once in a years opportunity (I am 21 so yeah,  saying once in 21 years won’t be unfair). Not to my surprise, I was the only Non-Chinese speaker among a group of around hundred astro enthusiasts. While we arrived the destination in noon, we had to set up our camps and tents for the night and had an introduction and some games to get us acquainted. It was followed with a Taiwanese style hot pot which I remember I ate too much.

Now it came to the main part, night. Everyone had set their telescopes pointing up towards the different parts of sky. There was a  lecture (of course in Chinese) about the various stars that we were going to observe that night (someone told me so). At around 10 or so, we started observing endlessly. First came the evening star, Venus. It was first to disappear as well. It moved all across the sky before fading out into the horizon. About Venus, it is bright enough to recognize in the evening. It is first of the few stars you can probably see around 7 and that is why it is called the evening star. After it, was the turn of giant Jupiter. We were not only asked to see it, we also had this chance to look at its moons. I could spot three of them around it. Honestly, all the planets look like our moon through telescopes. Difference being, when you turn your eyes on them, you can not really see them. But a telescope is powerful enough to resolve even its moons. Thanks to science! The most wonderful part of the night was the Saturn observation. Saturn looks incredibly beautiful! I have been seeing it in textbooks and yes, textbooks are right. Saturn ring makes it different from others. Because I did not know how to distinguish between constellations, I had to asked my mates to let me have some idea about the position of Saturn. I remember, I just kept looking at it for quite sometime before one of my friend started telling me something about other stars.

The bad part. I gave up quite early. I remember I went back to bed around 2.30 AM and many people made it till 4. After sometime, I was feeling kind of different (or separated) from the astro crowd. They were enjoying it their way and I was in my mood. My telescope was free but without the knowledge of where it was pointing at. I did not know much about starts anyway. It was a beautiful experience overall followed with Taiwanese food the next morning.

A disaster of Science

Nature is usually silent. It does not make much sound. If you listen to the birds chirping in the morning or the evening breeze echoing in your ears, it is pleasant. But is this silence, is this beauty a result of something beautiful? The answer would be NO. To establish this world we live in, Earth has struggled a lot. It has faced a tremendous series of changes in its ecosystem and more importantly, it has been patient enough to host the life it presently has.

But is this equilibrium forever? Of course not. Internal and external disturbances are unavoidable. Luckily, I have not seen any serious external disturbance so far like the dinosaurs saw in their time. But if I talk about internal disturbances in Earth, I must have heard(and felt) many. Earthquakes and thereby generated Tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions, cyclones etc. are some of the imperfections in our almost perfect world. These little imperfections are not so serious if I see it from Earth’s point of view considering all those massive collisions, impacts which Earth had in it’s past. But we humans are not as strong as our bearer, we are highly sensitive to these tiny disturbances. Mankind has suffered extremely in some of these situations.

Most recently, Nepal has been a victim of an internal disturbance in Earth’s tectonic plates. What we can do? Obviously nothing. These things are bound to happen. It looks like we have to pay a price every now and then for our habitat on Earth. This universe we live in, it looks so empty and silent. But at the time when it makes some noise, it makes others cry.

Day one: Fulong Beach

Taiwan usually don’t have a lot of holidays, but I was lucky enough this time to get it such that I had a really long weekend, from Friday to Monday and I want to take the best out of it. I had planned for Kenting at the beginning but couldn’t make it because of already rushed crowd who had booked all the cheap hotels in which a poor guy like me likes to stay LOL.

This is when I thought about the other part of Taiwan which I hadn’t explored yet: North-East. With an extremely mesmerizing ocean view, NE Taiwan has a lot of places to go for. We started our journey by taking a bus to Taipei from Hsinchu and moved on to Yilan from Taipei.

We had booked a YHA hostel in Yilan but because the check in time was 3PM and we were too impatient to just wait there, we cut our three bags in one and headed on to Fulong. Yilan to Fulong journey takes about 40 minutes, depending on the type of train you are travelling on. It is while this journey, you can get a glimpse of ocean as the railway line is laid down along the coast.

After reaching here, we went to their visitor centre to check about the tourist spots there while knowing that we are here for the waters and the beach. It is quite a small town but naturally very beautiful. All the places can be covered by foot however the weather could play a critical part if you want to go here as most of the places are directly under the sun and sky.

We spent around four or five decent hours around the waters and headed back to the train station to eat some noodles and got a ticket for the next destination,

P.S. Fulong beach has a sculpture festival which is usually around May-July. So I can suggest this as the best time to be here, but if you want some time in solitude, any time across the year is good to be close to nature. Come with your swim wears and beach stuff to make it the best.

(Twenty) Six Degrees of Separation

We live in a big world, indeed a very big world. You can estimate it from the fact that the surface area of Earth is more than 5000000000 sq. km. (do not bother to count the zeros, I am telling you it’s huge) and there are not many people who travel it in their lifetimes. But we, earth-livings, are not really attentive towards the vastness of this universe. We hardly wonder about the extremities of sky while we look at it.

Last week, I was reading a book called “You are here” by Christopher Potter where I found about the classification of this extreme vastness. All the things of this universe can be put into twenty six levels or degrees.

The first degree is from 1 meter to 10 meter i.e up to 10 raise to the power one.  All the humans, many animals (not all) falls in this range. Robert Wadlow was the tallest human (2.72m) in our history. These are the things that we can see when we are near to them and can not be observed as we go far away.

The second degree is from 10 meter to 100 meter i.e 10 raise to the power two. This range includes large animals such as the dinosaurs of whose fossils give us the estimation of their lengths.

Similarly, the third degree covers human things up to skyscrapers. Burj is about 818 meters which is currently the tallest one.

The fourth degree extends up to 10km, Mt. Everest is an example within this range.

Higher levels include orbits of satellites. Hubble telescope orbits at around 600km (Sixth degree). High orbit Earth satellites orbit in the Eighth degree while the natural satellite of Earth, Moon, orbits in Ninth degree.

After the satellites, comes the planets, Venus at it’s closest is in Eleventh degree. And after the planets, our mighty sun can be considered which is at the average distance which falls into Twelfth degree of separation.

This is the criterion that is further extended to estimate the measure of bigger things than sun, such as galaxies and galaxy clusters.

P. S. Six degree of separation is a theory/play that any two persons can be connected to each other with a maximum of up to six interconnections. This is a personal separation space while I talked about what I probably can call cosmic separation.

Scientheist

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of god and reading and watching many things about science. According to what I perceive, almost all the facts about this world can be explained by science. Be it the natural calamities or the beginning of this universe, everything can be explained logically. While god on the other hand, is a belief and faith of many people. The words I am yet to say are my point of view and in no way, I mean to impose anything on anyone. My concept of god is a bit strange from usual. I do not believe now that any materialistic god exists because I have not seen it, I have not known anyone who has been to heaven or hell and more importantly, I have not felt it.

What I believe in is an inner power within ourselves, may be that is something which I can term as god in my perspective. Generally we bow our heads before god to ask for something. In a similar way, we can ask our inner being to give us the strength and the motivation to claim our targets.

Scientheist is just a term for scientific atheist. I believe in science and logic. I can not blindly believe in something which I can not prove. We are just tiny creatures, lucky enough to get lives within us. We are made from same stuff as that of a star, and when a star can die, why can not we? What is so special about us that we will get a life again? When a universe possibly can be given birth from a big bang i.e nothing, why can’t our life just come to an end, again nothing? I believe that there is no god behind our existence and it just a mere coincidence that life flowered here on Earth. As long as the conditions on Earth are good enough for us to survive, our race will do so. And when the time has to come, it will come, like it did for the mighty dinosaurs.