History

Neil Armstrong, may you stop by the moon again on your trip up to the heavens above…

Armstrong and his buddies – The Apollo 11 Astronauts

 

On August the 25th 2012, we lost the one of the greatest heroes of all time, Neil Armstrong, the man who showed us all that hard work, humility, and guts can lead to dreams.

The Daily Beast: What Neil Armstrong Really Taught the World

Universe Today: Neil Armstrong; 1st Human on the Moon – Apollo 11, Tributes and Photo Gallery

ps. Armstrong’s family sends a lovely request to those wishing to pay tribute and remember his achievement: “Honour his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong, and give him a wink.”

Categories: History, Misc, Space Exploration | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cosmic Dance – Just Something to Think About

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The Nataraja in my home.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this bronze sculpture in my house. We call it the Nataraja. The dancer is Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction – and surrounding him is a ring of fire.

Out if curiosity, I googled this sculpture and discovered it symbolises the creation and destruction of our universe. Cool! Basically, the dance represents rhythm, the source of movement in our universe – rhythm sustains our universe. The drum he holds signifies sound as the origin of our universe. And the upper left hand holds fire and the belief is fire shall destroy our universe.

I don’t know myself if this truly represents how our universe works. Yet, no one truly knows the answer to it either. So maybe, just maybe this statue holds the key – then again, it could just be a statue of a Hindu god as he dances.

ps. The Nataraja is also at CERN!

Here’s an article about this. Source: http://www.fritjofcapra.net/shiva.html

Shiva’s Cosmic Dance at CERN

On June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva — a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. The statue, symbolizing Shiva’s cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center’s long association with India.

In choosing the image of Shiva Nataraja, the Indian government acknowledged the profound significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s dance for the cosmic dance of subatomic particles, which is observed and analyzed by CERN’s physicists. The parallel between Shiva’s dance and the dance of subatomic particles was first discussed by Fritjof Capra in an article titled “The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu View of Matter in the Light of Modern Physics,” published in Main Currents in Modern Thought in 1972. Shiva’s cosmic dance then became a central metaphor in Capra’s international bestseller The Tao of Physics, first published in 1975 and still in print in over 40 editions around the world.

A special plaque next to the Shiva statue at CERN explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s cosmic dance with several quotations from The Tao of Physics. Here is the text of the plaque:

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, seeing beyond the unsurpassed rhythm, beauty, power and grace of the Nataraja, once wrote of it “It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.”

More recently, Fritjof Capra explained that “Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter,” and that “For the modern physicists, then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter.”

It is indeed as Capra concluded: “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”

Categories: History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sir William Herschel and Life on the Moon

Something interesting that I thought I’ll post up. William Herschel believed that life exists on the moon! And he made this deduction by observing the moon through his homemade 7 foot long reflector telescope – the longest reflector made at his time.

The evidence:

1. Among one of Herschel’s early papers submitted to the Royal Society is “Observation on the Mountains of the Moon”. This paper describes “lunar forests” existing on the moon.

Source: Holmes, R., 2008. The Age of Wonder. Harper Press.

 

2. Herschel proposed the idea that the craters on the moon were artificially built by lunar inhabitants. This circular craters functioned as towns that could harness solar energy. He called them “circuses”.

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Source: Holmes, R., 2008. The Age of Wonder. Harper Press.

 

3. Herschel believed that the shadows on the moon could be either “forests” of vegetation or “black soil”.

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Source: Holmes, R., 2008. The Age of Wonder. Harper Press.

 

These pictures were taken from a book, The Age of Wonders by Richard Holmes, that I recently bought and am still reading. It’s a wonderful biography of a selected scientist and explorers who lived during the Romantic Age.

A biography on the lives of the greatest scientist and explorers of the late 18th century, the Romantic Era.

Back to Herschel, I truly admire him for having the guts to stand up for what he believed in, despite having to go against Maskelyne’s (Maskelyne, who was leading astronomer at the Royal Society) opinion. At that time, it was such a heated controversy between them that Maskelyne himself visited Herschel in Herschel’s home to question him on the credibility of his astronomical works. However, Herschel never gave up! And mind you, Herschel had no professional qualification in astronomy (or even physics/mathematics for that matter) – a perfect reason to drop his endeavours in a field in which he had little expertise and credibility in.  Herschel was in fact a poor man, an émigré from Germany and self-taught in astronomy.
So, instead of succumbing to the doubts of others about his theories, Herschel admitted that his claim of life on the moon needed to be substantiated with more proof. He therefore persevered and kept observing the moon and skies through his telescope. And guess what he stumbled upon eventually while searching and mapping the stars, Uranus!

ps. Check out this post, Sir William Herschel’s Belief in Extraterrestrial Life, to read more about Herschel’s endeavours to discover life in space.

Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, History, The Moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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