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jamesm334

What is the purpose of astronomy?

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Even though you chose to reject it, it does not change that facts. The universe carries on as it always will regardless of what its passengers think or wish.

Everything can be put in a way people comprehend of all different levels, but it does not change where it all comes from.

Sorry I didn't make myself clear, Physics doesn't explain consciousness as far as I know it hasn't even made a dent in that.and the part I most strongly reject is the implication that to try and explain something simply is lying. inexact yes. lying I don't think so

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Sorry I didn't make myself clear, Physics doesn't explain consciousness as far as I know it hasn't even made a dent in that.and the part I most strongly reject is the implication that to try and explain something simply is lying. inexact yes. lying I don't think so

Dont worry it will do one day.

Dont forget 100 years ago we could not fly, let alone break the sounds barrier, land on the moon and put probes to tha far distant planets in our solar system.

What we dont understand today we will tomorrow.

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Dont worry it will do one day.

Dont forget 100 years ago we could not fly, let alone break the sounds barrier, land on the moon and put probes to tha far distant planets in our solar system.

What we dont understand today we will tomorrow.

Hi earl we appear to be taking over the thread. I agree with the sentiments. but it seems that most physicists agree that there are some questions which are outside the remit of physics If this is true physics can never be a subject that has the answer to everything as there are some questions it will never try to answer. I admire your faith I'll wait for proof :) Questions that physics cannot answer what is love, truth, beauty? Is there a purpose to life other than reproduction? why is there consciousness? and why do clouds appear whenever I put my scope to cool?

Edited by rowan46

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But this is the purpose astronomy or it has become more so the further we look back and see the relevance of how it all fits together, through the study of the universe we understand more about the fundamental laws which govern the way the universe ticks, these fundamentals includes us as we are a product of this universe.

To be controversial Astrology/mythology developed into Astronomy and all the sub sciences.

Astronomy moved man forward from the "Sun God or Earth Centred universe (depending where you come from)" dominated world into the Universe we are now starting to understand.

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Even though you chose to reject it, it does not change that facts. The universe carries on as it always will regardless of what its passengers think or wish.

Everything can be put in a way people comprehend of all different levels, but it does not change where it all comes from.

Doesn't quantum theory throw this into question? What is observed affects what is.

The OP might be amused by a Dirac quotation which I will have to paraphrase since I only have it in my head;

The purpose of science is to say as simply as possible something which has never been said before. The purpose of poetry is precisely the reverse.

Good insight into science but miles off beam on poetry. You cannot paraphrase poetry nor can any two poets say the same thing. As Robert Frost said, 'Poetry is what gets lost in translation.' Or Malarme who said, 'poetry is made with words.'

That one is a lot deeper than it seems, if you haven't come across it before.

Olly

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Hi earl we appear to be taking over the thread. I agree with the sentiments. but it seems that most physicists agree that there are some questions which are outside the remit of physics If this is true physics can never be a subject that has the answer to everything as there are some questions it will never try to answer. I admire your faith I'll wait for proof :)

I think we will be all long gone and buried before we get that far.

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Doesn't quantum theory throw this into question? What is observed affects what is.

The OP might be amused by a Dirac quotation which I will have to paraphrase since I only have it in my head;

The purpose of science is to say as simply as possible something which has never been said before. The purpose of poetry is precisely the reverse.

Good insight into science but miles off beam on poetry. You cannot paraphrase poetry nor can any two poets say the same thing. As Robert Frost said, 'Poetry is what gets lost in translation.' Or Malarme who said, 'poetry is made with words.'

That one is a lot deeper than it seems, if you haven't come across it before.

Olly

I dont think poetry has anything to do with it.

Its just an art form, which is just a way some people deal with things.

The rules of physics go on regardless, some just choose words to express there place within it.

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[quote name=ollypenrice;"Or Malarme who said' date=' 'poetry is made with words.'"

Olly:)

I like that quote

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For me one word sums it up quite clearly "Nature" the word we use to describe something we can not create our selfs, the wonder that is something we can not completely explain, and of course the overwhelming need to understand.

When I look to the sky's this is what I see.

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Doesn't quantum theory throw this into question? What is observed affects what is.

The act of observation does not have to be conscious - anything sufficient to collapse the waveform will do.

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to me looking up at the stars, and to a higher degree musing upon them, gives me a great sense of smallness. i feel a beautiful insignificance that shoves my sense of self back into place. the tiny irks of life seem to melt away when i am star gazing and like i said before, even more so when atempting to comprehend the neverendingness of the universe in which we live. We exist in this bubble of safety on earth, space seems so far away and not connected that we forget about it. my mind is truly at rest when i am star gazing, all of me is just drinking in the views. i feel similar feelings when given a great view of the sea from high up or when peering out of an aeroplane window. its all about considering the waxing and waning of the planets, stars and galaxies and putting your life into context against it.

waffle over

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I personally look to science and the skies for a better understanding of my origins. For example, visualizing how some of the elements in my body where created is quite something and very beautiful both visually and in a physical scientific context.

I want to know how the universe ticks.

Edited by palebluedot

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For me its a completely getaway, even in my own back garden. I live in the city where I get very little chance to see the countryside, and think that most of us are completely out of touch of nature and we will continue to lose that connection. For me, when I look at the stars I no longer feel "Human" but more animal (I know Humans are animals but I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from) I feel a part of something much bigger, I feel included, and the more time spent looking at the sky the more I realise how much of a lucky coincidence of millions and trillions outcomes that could of happened, but I'm here. For me, to appreciate the stars in the sky is to appreciate we are extremely lucky to have this special thing called life, because after all we/everything came from one place :)

EDIT: As for science and poetry, I think they have similar aims; To create the most potent understanding or description of things around us.

Edited by Karlos

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Greetings, all:

Why do we look at the stars? Why do we write literature? Are writers and astronomers looking for the same thing in the end?

Gratefully,

jamesm334

Learn all that is learnable.

Imagine all that is possible.

The Universe extends throughout all time.

The cosmos, through Astronomy, expands all our minds.

Return all this to the creator, maybe one day,

but todays not the time.

Keep up the good work SGL.

Edited by tibbs1972

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For myself,

I have a burning question, that fuels my thoughts.....

Whats out there ?

I've felt this fire burning in the back of my mind for as long as I can remember.

The curiosity to find an answer to this question has recently poured oil on the fire.

This encourages me to venture outside every night in a vain attempt to try and understand the universe around me.

Will all the questions ever be answered ?

Will my curiosity ever dwindle ?

The answer for me is "I hope not".

This Year, I've learned so much.

I've can now locate many stars and constellations.

I've seen the moon closer that I ever thought I would.

I've seen the Sun burning brighter than ever before.

Even today, for the first time, I've seen a man made object cross over the front of my humble abode. (The ISS).

The fires burning hotter and hotter.

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Rowan, you say, ' Is there a purpose to life other than reproduction?'

I don't think there is a purpose to life at all. Reproduction is the consequnence of copulation. The purpose of the latter depends entirely on the motives of the practitioners.

We humans have purposes when we do things. That is fine and a good thing. But nature, in my view, is entirely without purposes. It has been called The Blind Watchmaker, but now we stray to forbidden territory.

So the purpose of astronomy depends on the individual who chooses to do it.

I do it because it is interesting, challenging, beautiful and gives me an outlet for those creative urges which it is our lot to be born with.

Olly

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For myself,

I have a burning question, that fuels my thoughts.....

Whats out there ?

I've felt this fire burning in the back of my mind for as long as I can remember.

The curiosity to find an answer to this question has recently poured oil on the fire.

This encourages me to venture outside every night in a vain attempt to try and understand the universe around me.

Will all the questions ever be answered ?

Will my curiosity ever dwindle ?

The answer for me is "I hope not".

This Year, I've learned so much.

I was having this conversation with someone not so long ago....my stance was that it was a natural instinct, I don't know why I do it, I just do it, we come from the stars so it would be the most natural thing to connect with them again on a small scale through astronomy......his stance was that because he believed the universe was teaming with life (something i'm inclined to agree with, on gut feeling alone) that exploring space with telescopes it like filling in your family tree......it was an analogy that I liked, a simple yet poignant point for me.

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No one practices astronomy. It's just a clever ruse so you can look at the girl across the street without raising suspicion...:)

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For me spending time outside on a clear night always seems to bring a real sense of awe .

When I have a session with the scope , I still probably spend as much time looking skyward than at the eyepiece .

Like for many other human endeavours I don't think there is a real purpose to Astronomy but again it might be waaay above my head.:)

Christophe

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Wow. Thank you, everyone, for all of your thoughtful responses. You all have found ways to articulate some important ideas that are not easy to put into words.

Brantuk, your idea that we have an "innate desire" to "understand" and "tell stories" was a great way to begin the thread. Telling stories is what we do, isn't it, regardless of what language we use (verse? physics?)?

James, the human condition is at the root of lots of literary studies, and for you to tie it into the "story" of astronomy was very helpful.

Our "insignificance" was a common topic, and I suppose I would add that--if we are to invoke Heisenberg, as some of you have--our "insignificance" might be flipped to become "significance" according to how we observe our place in the cosmos?

Other answers spoke to our inner and outer universes (great metaphor there), as well as finding simplicity or simple answers (think about how much more effective it is to give someone a simple answer even in everyday life, as opposed to one that is long and drawn out). And aren't we trying to offer answers that sum up grand ideas, even in this very thread?

Also, although I know Carl Sagan isn't for everyone, I believe the references to his work speak to his passion and talent for introducing the stars into people's lives (including mine - 'Pale Blue Dot' had quite an impact on me when I first read it).

The poet I'm focusing on for this piece is Robinson Jeffers, who embraced many of these ideas in some way in his verse, and you all have helped me uncover several interesting parallels between his work and some of the popular philosophy of his time (Modernism/early 20th century). He was discovering his place in the universe (as Hubble had described it and as we understand it when we're first learning astronomy), and it seems that we, as lovers of the stars, share a lot of the ideas he expresses in his poems.

If you are interested, please feel free to continue this thread or start similar ones with questions of your own. I am very grateful for your reflections, and I have very much enjoyed the responses (particularly the ones regarding kit-vs.-clouds! :)).

Gratefully,

Mitchell

(jamesm334)

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Astronomy has always inspired those who have a way with words to record them as poetry. In ancient literature, Jewish hero/king David was a prolific poet/songwriter, often using comparisons and references to the cosmos to state his own feelings of his place in the grand scheme of things, for instance;

"When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

human beings that you care for them?"

Somewhere out there all the answers are to all the questions we have ever asked. I can't think of anything else more likely to move a poet to poetry :)

Cheers

Tim

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Rowan, you say, ' Is there a purpose to life other than reproduction?'

I don't think there is a purpose to life at all. Reproduction is the consequnence of copulation. The purpose of the latter depends entirely on the motives of the practitioners.

We humans have purposes when we do things. That is fine and a good thing. But nature, in my view, is entirely without purposes. It has been called The Blind Watchmaker, but now we stray to forbidden territory.

So the purpose of astronomy depends on the individual who chooses to do it.

I do it because it is interesting, challenging, beautiful and gives me an outlet for those creative urges which it is our lot to be born with.

Olly

Unfortunately olly I am not a great thinker and am unused to articulating my views. consequently I don't do it very clearly my comment about reproduction was a very poor attempt to express the point you made about a blindly mechanistic universe. Life it seems to me has only one imperative (at least on earth) and that is to survive. The drone bee copulates with the queen then dies but in doing so ensures its own immortality and that of the species by providing the genetic template for the next generation many other life forms on earth have similar charateristics or variations on it. to take a higher form of the same thing a person will run into a burning building to rescue their child. My question speculated that this may be the only purpose of life. To try and put it a little more clearly The only purpose of life is to live and every question we ask may be a meaningless construct or else it may be that there is a purpose other than that which we make ourselves. I'm sorry If I'm not clear I really am not very bright but I think that this is what I meant by questions outside the remit of science :)

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For me, Astronomy is the embodiment of "proof". I look at the moon, or Saturn, or the Orion nebula, and I can see that it's all real. With my own eyes. There's no intermediary, and I don't need to take anything on trust or faith.

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For me, Astronomy is the embodiment of "proof". I look at the moon, or Saturn, or the Orion nebula, and I can see that it's all real. With my own eyes. There's no intermediary, and I don't need to take anything on trust or faith.

I envy your knowledge. I know so little that when a scientist tells me this is so I believe them. I don't have the time to check all their data or spend the lifetime they have spent researching. me I'm lazy I believe them until the next scientist tells me not to. but for the record I also do not believe in things that cannot and will not ever be proven. My head tells me I do not know and so must be open minded my heart tells me until I can get a better answer than just faith I will reject it. hence for me science has the most appeal because at least if I can take the time and trouble I can find empirical proof of what is. Astronomy to get back on thread is my way of interacting with science on an emotional level to slightly understand the joy that those who have understanding have. they look at numbers and see the beauty of the universe. I will never understand that language so looking at the stars is my way of trying to translate. i don't get the equations but I do get at least in part that thrill of standing up and looking at the edge of forever

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