Feature This week's community question is about surprises!

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Dec 2, 2019
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Hello and happy Monday, everyone! :D

I've got another fun question for the community. However, before that, I really have to point out how awesome everyone's responses have been to this weekly feature. It's so heartwarming to be amongst fellow space enthusiasts that are as passionate as I am!

Speaking of which, one of the things that keep me coming back to learning about space is how often I'm surprised by what I come across. I remember how shocked I was as a child to learn that space is utterly silent. More recently, I was thinking about Voyager and felt the same sort of shockwaves when I thought about how it is so far away right now...that it was outside of the influence of the sun! :fearscream:

It's stuff like this that truly amazes and continually surprises me. How about you? What is the most surprising thing you learned about space?

As always, we'll be featuring some of our favourite answers on the weekly community round-up!
I am always amazed at how often individuals in the scientific community speak with such authority on subjects we are just beginning to attempt to grasp. Too often assumptions are made that turn out to be incorrect and misguided. For instance, assuming that the structure of solar systems would mimic our own. As it turns out, large inner planets can occupy solar orbits similar to that of puny Earth. That very fact alone shows how incredibly fortunate Earth is by having large gas giants in outer orbits sweep the space before us as the sun drags us all through the galaxy. It's probably why all life on Earth has not been extinguished before now.
Too often the questioning of theories is met with derision by those who postulate them, or those who adhere by them. It is when we stop asking questions that our understanding ceases to develop and we create periods of stagnation in our continued development of scientific understanding. Often we as a species approach science with an arrogance that can not only be dangerous to future scientific development, but can also be dangerous in our application of what we do understand.
A perfect example of this is climate change. At one time it was assumed that the planet was going to continuously increase in overall warmth, but the last 20 years has shown that to not be the case. As a result scientist were forced to change their discussion from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change." I have often had discussions with individuals who believe that the Earth is warming due to increased carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. They almost always point to man kinds industrial age as a cause for these increased levels and the inevitability of an ever warming planet. Ice core samples from polar samples are the usual proof that carbon dioxide levels have increased. This has led to some dangerous assumptions based on an unwillingness to ask more questions.
Among the questions I have is if CO2 levels are so much higher in our atmosphere as a result of the industrial age, then why do we have examples within the ice cores of CO2 levels that were higher prior to the industrial age? In addition, if the CO2 is in the ice which is at sea level, then doesn't that mean that Earths climate removes CO2 from the atmosphere? If volcanic eruptions, like Mt St Helens, can put more pollution in the atmosphere than the entire industrial age, how do we know that massive amounts of pollution are not being released below the oceans of the world which make up 71% of the Earth's surface? How can man kind, with our limited history, predict accurately the energy output of the sun which is billions of years old?
Another example of scientific theories perhaps being incorrect is the assumption that our sun will eventually run out of fuel and progress to a red giant to a brown dwarf. The sun is massive. It has such a gravitational force that it is able to bend light so that planets can be observed in our solar system from the opposite side of the sun as they approach the periphery of the sun. If the gravitational pull of the sun is so great that it can bend light, how much mass is it sucking in as it hurtles through our galaxy? Is it enough to perpetually fuel our sun? If that is true, then can it provide enough mass that over time our sun would eventually go nova? How can we know how much mass is being sucked into the sun when current technology prevents us from finding out just how much free mass is floating in the solar trajectory since the only objects to leave our solar system are two tiny satellites that were launched in the relative infancy of space travel, which we are still currently in.
Arrogance has no place in science.
 
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Apr 15, 2020
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The thing about space travel that has boggled my mind is just leaving the earth. I am always surprised that to get into space, a rocket must be launched. I'm assuming that a solid fuel air craft, with collapsible wings, would take much longer to escape earths gravity. We do know that returning to earth can be accomplished by the space shuttle.... so why not go into space the same way.
 
Nov 2, 2020
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The most important (and interesting) things in the Universe are Neutron Stars and Black Holes. I'm not so interested in solar sistem as much as these two elements. Their bulky and density is something of incredible in my opinion, and, of course, I like stars and the formation of objects with this different nature! At the beginning of my course I remember I didn't even know the differences between Supernovas and Neutron Stars, but now (I can't say I know everything, it would be too much for me) I'm aware of a lot of things.
Do not forget that Black Holes aren't made of matter anymore!
 
Jan 4, 2020
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Hello and happy Monday, everyone! :D

I've got another fun question for the community. However, before that, I really have to point out how awesome everyone's responses have been to this weekly feature. It's so heartwarming to be amongst fellow space enthusiasts that are as passionate as I am!

Speaking of which, one of the things that keep me coming back to learning about space is how often I'm surprised by what I come across. I remember how shocked I was as a child to learn that space is utterly silent. More recently, I was thinking about Voyager and felt the same sort of shockwaves when I thought about how it is so far away right now...that it was outside of the influence of the sun! :fearscream:

It's stuff like this that truly amazes and continually surprises me. How about you? What is the most surprising thing you learned about space?

As always, we'll be featuring some of our favourite answers on the weekly community round-up!
My passion and fundamental feeling of a profound connection to and with this universal reality we find ourselves in is the infinite possibilities that are within our imaginations and would be theoretically a reality if we could comprehend the level of knowledge and understanding it takes to make our theories a reality but in my opinion it is a foregone conclusion and only a matter of time before we reach our nirvana and beyond as space and the universe is so so soooo vast i am 100% absolutely convinced that life is prevalent throughout this cosmos spread by space debris drifting about in every galaxy like comets and asteroids for the life of the universe and solar systems in every galaxy and therefore there must be systems that are not as active and dynamic as ours and there are many civilisations from the basic forms of life to the hyper advanced intellectual and technological societies and everything in between and now that many governments have acknowledged that UAP's are real and are beyond the current technology and knowledge of their science and that's quite a strong case for making anything and everything an absolute probability. That is a fraction of what i find encapsulating and so intriguing about space and all!!
 
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Mar 29, 2021
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How empty space is. As a lab for my daughter's 4th grade class we went out in the courtyard and built a scale model using a 6" volleyball as a sun and postcards with basically "dots" on them for the inner planets. I had the kids use tape measures to lay out the model. With this scale, the inner planets were from 21 to 81 ft from the "sun". Then the outer planets started almost 300 ft away which was the parking lot on the other side of the school and Pluto was almost 1/2 mile way.

So if you think of the earth as the "dot" which is the size of a large period on the post card, there is almost nothing in between the planets except dust and small asteroids. That was 15 years ago and its still the only thing that I can use to put things in some type of perspective for scale of the solar system.
 
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Jun 23, 2020
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What has surprised me the most as I read about relativity is how spacetime is curved, and that space and time are not absolute but are relative to the location and movement of the observer. I tried reading Einstein's "Relativity: The Special & General Theory" which he wrote in 1920, supposedly for the non-mathematical mind. But I found the math in it too daunting and only got about 1/3 of the way into it. (He later admitted that it was too advanced for a regular reader). But I am now reading "Quantum Space" by Jim Baggott, and I am fascinated. I am actually able to understand spacetime much better and also quantum mechanics. (By the way, he is in favor of the "loop quantum gravity" theory. )
 
Mar 19, 2021
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Hey good to hear you back.
Being a space science student, it's always been privileged to think about quantum mechanics and general relatively yet mind storming.
Still finding the answer to one of the most unanswerable questions that did the universe have a beginning, and if so, what happened before then?
If the universe is expanding, in which it is expanding into then?
last but not the least, that if there really is a complete unified theory, it would also presumably determine our actions.
 

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