Black holes and other things I dont know enough about

There’s a lot to wonder about out there….

The supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy.

What do I wish I knew more about??? Oh, there is so much that could come into that category! After all, I named my blog “It keeps me wondering” for a reason!!!

I like wondering about all sorts of stuff…admittedly sometimes in a fanciful way, but I’m actually stimulated by learning new stuff, particularly if it’s through a dialogue with someone else who is knowledgable and passionate about it. I enjoy trying to picture and understand how things work, so I can become genuinely interested in almost any topic – for example, why steam burns you twice (as a friend was explaining last night). A good example is that when listening to local community radio station 3RRR, I can find myself becoming absorbed in the discussion of topics ranging from the work of the Mirabel Foundation to a current exhibition on in Melbourne. Sadly, I don’t seem to have a good ability to retain a lot of facts about how things work, however. So I don’t seem to store those facts in a database in my head, but the upside is that, like a goldfish, my active curiosity in learning about things can be triggered by hearing the same information I’ve heard before, if it’s presented in an interesting way!

It’s hard to know where to start, but here are just a few of the things I wish I knew more about, and can always hear about with interest:

Astronomy – the stars, the galaxy, black holes! The fact that the light we see in the sky left a star anywhere from 4 years ago to 1000s of years ago (or millions of years ago if you have a telescope) – that is one of those mind blowing facts that (even though I do retain it) still causes a shiver to run down my spine when I think about it. I guess it is because that light connects us with the prehistoric past of the universe, before the earth was inhabited, so many eons of time ago that we can’t even begin to picture how much time ago we are talking about. It reminds me  that human existence on earth really is a tiny blip on the radar of the universe.

Sociology and psychology – why we crazy humans behave the way we do! For example, it’s always fascinating to read about those famous experiments that I remember from psychology, like the one where someone on top of a tall building looks like they are going to jump, and down below the crowd gradually lose their sense of individuality and concern, and all chant at him to jump! Or the one where there is an apple on a table and everyone around the table one by one has to say what the object on the table is. The first person (a stooge) says it’s a pear, and no-one queries them, so then one by one, everyone round the table says it’s a pear.* Or the one where some people were made to play prison guards and put in charge of other people, playing the role of prisoners, and during the course of the experiment, the “prison wardens” started treating the “prisoners” in cruel and inhumane ways as the power dynamic went to their head. Human behaviour is so complex, fascinating, and sometimes scary!

History – the things that humans did in the past, and why they did them! There is a story to everything, and just about anything can come under the category of “history”, and tell us a little about the society that created it. The history of Ireland. The history of grafitti art. The history of robots.

bioluminescent jellyfish

Is it a space alien? No, its a bioluminescent jellyfish!

M. Youngbluth

Biology – particularly marine life – they are so mysterious to us. Starfish – how do they eat? How do they reproduce? Those bioluminescent deep sea creatures that live down on the ocean floor, creeping about in the murky depths, generating their own light, and not even bothering to evolve, just remaining as weird and primordial as their ancestors who were creeping around in the same ocean thousands of years ago.

I guess my interest in barely evolved creatures must be part of my fascination with history and pre-history. I just think it is shiver-inducing to know that there are still little bits of ancient history around us – out in the galaxies and way down deep in the oceans.

Of course, there are plenty of other, every day things I’d like to know more about too, for example, what half the functions on my phone are for, or why Fisher and Paykel bother having a 24/7 help line, but those things are not as potentially fascinating so I can survive without knowing the answers or even wondering too much about them. There’s too much other, more interesting stuff, to wonder about!


* The object on the table in that experiment might not have been an apple, it could have been an orange, or for that matter, a ham sandwich. I can’t recall and didn’t feel like looking it up. So I am not succumbing to peer group pressure when I say it was an apple, I just chose apples and pears to illustrate the point.

An orange

Umm… apple??

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