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.Hello and happy Monday, everyone!
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!
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!
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.