Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Astronomy so far

Astronomy so far has been nothing what I expected it to be.
No looking through (optical) telescopes. No lying on the grass in some isolated area of Europe.
Not so far at least.

At first I was completely bummed and thought -- what the fuck have I got myself into, but then I decided to change my attitude and learn.

So I've spent the last two months learning really interesting things (and I complete two months today!):
I've learnt calculus -- never really knew it in all those years of college
I've taken a course on interferometry -- so I'm learning how all these giant telescopes are built. And as my prof. says all of interferometry is physics. Really brilliant shit.
I learnt that when a wave (in the ocean) moves, it's not the actual particle that's moving, but it's the energy.
I learnt that everything is energy and everything is light.
I learnt about the brilliance of the electromagnetic spectrum.
I learnt that astronomical images are not pictures, but they are data on flux and energy and some guy sits and assigns colors to make a pretty picture
I watched each and every video that's a part of the Cassiopeia Project and felt inspired once again to make science simple
I've taken a course on the origin and evolution of the universe and am learning about all the mathematics that went on in the first three minutes -- and think it's all so unreal
I learnt about how frivolous science can really be and why it's so important that more people question everything that scientists come up with
In my course on radio astronomy, I actually handled raw data to create basic images
I learnt that I could never be a researcher
I learnt that I could be a good educator. And I've come one step closer to what I want to do when I go back to India
I learnt that the universe is only 14 billion years old. Seems young right?
I learnt about so many more coordinate systems -- like how the earth rotates around the sun and the sun rotates around the galactic center and that we are actually "moving" at speeds of 10,000 km per hour if we count all the rotating around everything.
I learnt that age is a mindset. It really is.
I learnt that being Indian now is in my blood. It's in my pre-conditioning and I never want to change that.
I learnt that linux is an awesome OS and said bye bye to Vista

Netherlands on the other hand has been much more than I expected (and the pictures speak for themselves :)


leenpawS said...

"I've taken a course on the origin and evolution of the universe and am learning about all the mathematics that went on in the first three minutes -- and think it's all so unreal"

...but will Heisenberg prevail after all and we shall never know what exactly happened at time=0?

or then again, is that the realm of god?

scratchpost said...

i'm pretty sure there was no god at that time :) i think he came in a tad bit later.

but the physicists can't explain anything at or below 10^-43 seconds. So 10^-infinity to 10^-43 is let's say a "grey" area :)

leenpawS said...

the lhc is all set to change that naah? by giving us at least a small glimpse into the "grey" area

it is but very serendipitous i think
that as we are able to generate more energy
we can glimpse further back into our past
and maybe come that much closer
to the end of our futures too?

scratchpost said...

i'm going to have a small talk/discussion in december (in mumbai). i'll tell you about it then :)