A Month of Studying Evolution

Evolution of humans from monkeys

I was raised Christian, and first believed, as I was told, that God created people.

When I was old enough to start reasoning, I heard about evolution as well as many of the holes that people try to poke in it (for example “Imagine a hurricane going through a junkyard and accidentally assembling a Boeing 747. That’s the kind of random chance required by evolution – it’s nuts!”)

The idea that random chance caused all life on earth did seem to me like a crazy idea. But an all-powerful God sitting outside the universe pulling invisible strings seemed like an equally crazy idea. I realized it didn’t make sense to reject one crazy idea (evolution) only to replace it with another crazy idea (God) for which I had no evidence.

So for a long time my opinion on how we came to exist was an agnostic “I don’t know.” [Read more...]

A Month of Google Plus

I know someone who has over 2 million followers on Google Plus. Inspired by her success, I decided to dust off my profile that I’d never really used and spend a month becoming a G+ celebrity like her.

I didn’t have a concrete goal, but hoped that I’d make interesting or useful connections with people, learn new things, drive traffic to this blog, and get some exposure for the company I work for.

I spent about an hour a day on G+. I updated my profile, followed a whole lot of people, joined communities based on my interests, participated in discussions, and created & shared posts.

It was hard. Not hard like climbing Mount Everest hard, but [Read more...]

A Month of Writing To Authors

Books by the four authors I contacted in October.

Ever read a book and wanted to talk to the author after? I have, but I never actually made an attempt to contact any authors… until last month.

In October I contacted a few authors who I’ve been wanting to contact for a while. I was hoping to send them all letters by snail mail (better chance of a response that way, I assumed) but could only find a mailing address for one of them. The others I sent by email or through website contact forms.

Here’s who I contacted…

Sam Harris – Atheist, Philosopher, Neuroscientist

After watching his TED talk on morality (it’s great) and thinking about what he said, I thought I’d found some exceptions to his idea that the “well-being of conscious creatures” is/should be the sole basis of morality. [Read more...]

A Month of Astronomy

Andromeda Galaxy - By NASA

Andromeda Galaxy, which contains about 1 trillion stars. Andromeda is on a collision course with our own Milky Way Galaxy – it is rushing towards us faster than 100km per second, but is so far away that it won’t reach us for about 4 billion years. Andromeda is faintly visible to the naked eye.

Since watching some episodes of “The Universe” (History Channel) a year or two ago, I’ve wanted to know what I was seeing when I looked up at the stars. I wanted to be able to recognize the constellations, and I wanted to be able to marvel at the fact that a certain star that I was looking at was a certain size, or a certain distance from the earth.

So last month I decided to start learning astronomy. Before I explain how I got started & how you can too if you have the urge, here are a few astronomy facts to whet your appetite. (If all you want is to start doing astronomy, scroll down to the heading “Tips To Get Started”)

Our Star, The Sun

The sun looks roughly the same size as the moon from our perspective. But whereas the moon is much smaller than the earth, the sun is so big that over 1 million earths could fit inside of it.

The sun is made of mostly hydrogen and helium. The hydrogen atoms are flying around so fast in sun’s core that when two hydrogen atoms smash into each other, they fuse and become one helium atom. Every second, the sun fuses about 600 million tons of hydrogen into 595 million tons of helium. In the process, it gives off a lot of energy.

Every second the sun gives off about as much energy as a billion 1-megaton hydrogen bombs going off. The Hoover Dam has a maximum capacity of 2,080 megawatts of power. The sun generates 386 billion billion megawatts of power. (the 2nd “billion” is not a typo)

[Read more...]