The Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image and why it’s a reason to smile

IDL TIFF file

That’s going to be blown up and framed, and hung above my desk very very soon. But it’s much more than a choice in interior decoration.

That’s the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image, the clearest, most comprehensive image we have of the universe to date. Light from over 13 billion years has been captured in this image, which the Hubble Telescope took six days to put together. What they did right, the good people over at the Hubble site, they focused the telescope on a patch of sky for about 800 exposures in four months during 2004. The area itself is so tiny it would cover about one tenth of the face of the moon. That’s not even the best part. Of course, Brian Cox explains it better than I’ll ever be able to, but I’m going to have a go anyway.

Each little speck of light in that image is another galaxy. Not another planet, not another star, but another galaxy. Another collection of a billion spheres of light, spinning endlessly in a fixed point of gravity, stuck invisibly in space.

There are over 10,000 galaxies in that picture.

The point isn’t ‘we are not alone’, holding up a lit finger, the point is , there is so much that we still don’t know. More importantly, there is so much that I don’t know. And I know I can’t learn it all in one lifetime, I know that I can’t do everything, but if I don’t try, that’s a wasted life right there.

Putting the Drake Equation aside for a moment, we are currently the only known planet with life on it. Out of all those galaxies, all those solar systems, all those planets, this is the only place we know of with life on it. Life that looks through cheek cells on a microscope, life that holds hands and rides bikes, life that values pandas over blobfish because they’re cuddly, life that discovered cocoa pods. And however unlikely the chances were, we’re still here. We made it. We’re not going to be around forever, and in the history of the universe we’re no more than a little speck of dust, a little blob of ink. It’s so short and so unlikely, that it’s wonderful.

And that’s definitely something to smile about.

I know I do,

Astronomers liken the Hubble Ultra Deep Field to staring at the sky through an eight foot long soda straw. You can either make your own, or watch Brian Cox explain the whole thing in his seamlessly eloquent way here:

Or take a tour of it on the Hubble website here:

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/tours/tour-hudf/

And once again, space becomes an instant pick me up.

There’s Only One Goodbye

From StarrylyNight

Starry Night

When you want a smile, look inside
For other times, I’ll be by your side
Cry, cry, cry my child
But remember, there is only one goodbye

When the storms are here, don’t be afraid
The skies will clear, come what may
When the morning comes, the rains will fade
Now go fetch that whole new day
Open your arms and give yourself a hug
Get a coffee, pull up that rug
You little one, I know you’re smug
Now give those cheeks a happy tug!

When you want a smile, look inside
For other times, I’ll be by your side
Cry, cry, cry my child
But remember, there is only one goodbye

Your fears, doubts aren’t really alive
Your thoughts are shadows, just walls they try to climb
Your dreams will come just you wait
Ice creams and scones the trucks play
Your tears and bouts, on them they survive
You…

View original post 51 more words

Right, right right… not me. I don’t want to be Right.

It’s happening everywhere, it really is. It’s happening in the UK, it’s happening in Greece, in Italy, in Sweden, in India, in Japan, and soon enough, it’s going to hit the States. I’m not talking about the Ice Bucket Challenge, Instagram filters, or mandatory Mandarin lessons. I wish it were Rise of the Tomb Raider for PCs, but it’s not that either.

All jokes aside, it is the rise of far right, nationalist parties. It feels wrong to say nationalist politics since that’s an ideology and I don’t feel comfortable quantifying an ideology, but yes it’s the rise of far right, nationalist politics. It’s happened before (yes, we’re all thinking of the same things and the same periods in history), and it’ll happen again, but it still scares me. I didn’t think I’d be alive when it did, and I hope it doesn’t escalate as quickly as I think it will, but it scares me.

Why?

I guess for anyone sewing a ‘Liberal’ or ‘leftie’ patch onto their sleeve, this far right ‘earthquake’ as the media loves calling it would certainly be cause for concern. I associate myself with values broadly aligned with extremely liberal parties; secularism, tolerance, civil unions (for gay and straight couples, basically anyone who wants one), free movement of labour and capital, policies based on evidence and science, and a focus on environmentalism. My choice of alcohol has been called Republican in the past, but that’s about the only bit of my lifestyle that can be. (And as I type this I’m picturing a clear, amber coloured glass of Jameson’s. Double, straight up. Moving on.)

This will be my first attempt to articulate my rather through-the-mill thoughts on far right nationalism. They’ve been on my mind for a long time now and I’m not sure I can get it all out in one go.

I’m not saying there should be a free for all across international borders, or that jobs should be available to anyone who waltzes in through the doors of the local employment office. Border policing is vital to ensure the safety and welfare of a country’s population, but what that is based on is anyone’s guess. Earlier this year, the UK drew up a scheme that would allow the Home Secretary Theresa May to strip foreign born British citizens of their citizenship, if suspected of terror. There’s also an ongoing debate regarding ‘anti-terror powers’, which would allow May to bar Britons entering the country, should they be returning from Syria. (On one level this does scream Samuel Huntington, which I’m not entirely sure is a good thing.) Eliminating extremism is something I’m for, but I’m not sure about the kind that’s being grown locally, i.e UKIP. It’s a mess.

At this point I’d like to bring in the distinction between Euroscepticism and a general dissatisfaction with immigration across the board, both of which are strongly growing in the UK. There’s a great analysis of the current rise of support for UKIP here:

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/the_ukip_puzzle_and_the_media_establishmentarianisation_hypothesis

Far right parties are not the same everywhere, for instance comparing UKIP to the Republicans or to India’s BJP party would be like trying to hash out the similarities among a case of Fosters, Heineken and Carlsberg. At the end of the day, they’re all equally rubbish.

But I will say this, what I am extremely concerned about is the lack of personal freedom, religious institutions funded by taxpayers, the intervention of religion in civil life, and an increasing intolerance of minorities. I’m concerned by legislation that tells me what I can and cannot do with my body, and how I’m supposed to dress so I don’t ‘invite trouble’.

More to follow.

Much, much more.

Reblogged from StarrylyNight on Tumblr

There’s only one Goodbye

when you want a smile, look inside
for other times, i’ll be by your side
cry cry cry my child
but remember, there is only one goodbye

when the storms are here, don’t be afraid
the skies will clear, come what may
when the morning comes, the rains will fade
now go fetch that whole new day
open your arms and give yourself a hug
get a coffee, pull up that rug
you little one, i know you’re smug
now give those cheeks a happy tug!

when you want a smile, look inside
for other times, i’ll be by your side
cry cry cry my child
but remember, there is only one goodbye

Your fears, doubts aren’t really alive
Your thoughts are shadows, just walls they try to climb
Your dreams will come just you wait
Ice creams and scones the trucks play
Your tears and bouts, on them they survive
You sought some fellows, just calls they
try to find
The sun will shine and take it all away
Look there behind the children will play

when you want a smile, look inside
for other times, i’ll be by your side
cry cry cry my child
but remember, there is only one goodbye

Original post: http://starrylynight.tumblr.com/post/106130204985/theres-only-one-goodbye