Monday, February 23, 2009

Steward Observatory Public Evening

Tonight, Melinda and I attended a talk as part of Steward Observatory's Public Evening Series. The series started in 1922, shortly after Steward Observatory was established at the University of Arizona by it's first director A.E. Douglas. I've attended occasional lectures for many years, where observing through a 21" diameter telescope usually follows the talk.

Tonight was Dr. Rachel Bean, a cosmologist from Cornell University speaking on "The Dark Side of the Universe". She was a most entertaining speaker - her first slide demonstrated the difference between a cosmologist (an astronomer who studies the evolution and space-time relations of the universe) and a cosmetologist (an expert in the use of cosmetics). She went on to explain about how modern theories seem to indicate the existence of what has come to be called dark matter and dark energy to explain how the outer reaches of the observable universe appear to be accelerating.

I've read and understood some of these concepts before, but one of the more interesting gems I brought home from the talk was a supposed quote from Albert Einstein, probably the most famous cosmologist - "The joy of looking and comprehension is nature's greatest joy".

Interestingly, that has informally been a personal mantra of mine - observe nature, and explain what you see with what you know. If you can't explain what you see, seek the wisdom of others through reading or seeing guidance. And it seems the reward is in the understanding. Anyway, it keeps me going - I hope it works for you too!

Oh, and by the way - tonight's speaker turned us on to the enclosed photo of Einstein - the website has him writing whatever you direct!

No comments: