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Discussion Week 1

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Discussion Week 1
Author’s Name
Astronomy (and other Space Sciences)
1) When looking at the night sky, you can see the light of different stars. If one star looks brighter than another, is it necessarily brighter? Explain.
No, simply put comparing the apparent magnitude of two stars is not the same as comparing their luminosity. The star that appears brighter certainly could be brighter. However, this is not enough information on its own. The observed brightness of a star or any light is inversely proportional to the square of its distance. In other words, if you observe a light from a certain distance and then move twice as far away the light will appear four times as dim. This means that one star that appears dimmer could be farther away. There are many stars in the night sky which are much brighter than our sun. However, they are simply so far away that during the day they cannot even be observed.
2) In ancient times, Egyptians thought that the combined light of the Sun and the brightest star in the nighttime sky, Sirius, created summer heat. Today, many believe this heat is caused by closeness to the Sun for part of the year. What can you point out that proves these both to be a misconception?
There is an entire hemisphere that we could point to dissuade anyone of this belief. The southern hemisphere experiences it’s season opposite of those in the northern hemisphere. (Wells, 2013) In fact the star, Sirius is not even visible in the southern hemisphere.
3) Astronomical discoveries are imperative to science.

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How are they significant to people’s personal lives? Explain.
This is something that will almost certainly vary from person to person. In the most basic sense though our entire civilization is dependent on early astronomical discoveries. For example, farming itself would not be possible without early discovering about the seasonal changes, even if these were not fully understood at the time. Another might be that people yearn to know where everything came from. Astronomical discoveries have shown us the origin of our universe to a certain extent and many might find that pretty significant.
4) Astrology is the study that believes and attempts to interpret the powers of heavenly bodies on human affairs. Why do you think astrology is so popular around the world, although many say it has failed all scientific tests of validity?
I think there are a couple reasons why. For one, it’s somewhat fun. Even though I know it’s not true, I still feel a flutter of excitement when I see my horoscope say that someone finds me attractive. The other I think is because it speaks to a certain level of solipsism that’s in every individual. We all like to believe that yes, maybe this world is all about me and even the stars in the sky are there just for me. It makes us feel special.
5) Einstein discovered that energy and mass are equivalent. What is one technological development that has emerged from this knowledge? Is the human race better or worse off with it? Explain.
Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons entirely owe their very existence to this little fact of nature and would probably be impossible without it. It’s difficult to say whether this has made the human race better or worse. One one hand, nuclear energy provides 20 percent of our electricity in the United States with minimal, albeit extremely deadly, waste. (IAEA, 2014) On the other this same process can be manipulated to create weapons that could destroy our species. However, it could be because of the existence of these weapons that we haven’t had any major wars since their creation. (Hardin and Mearsheimer, 1985) I think overall the human race is better off with these, despite their faults.6) Why do you think astronomy was important to people in ancient times? How do those beliefs affect people today?
I have somewhat alluded to this in one of my earlier answers. Without early astronomy farming and thus civilization itself would not be possible. Early humans used astronomy to predict the changes of seasons and to mark important religious dates. (Price, 2013, 262) The night sky also provided a wonderful source of entertainment back in 2000 BC, a time before Netflix existed (Citation Needed). Those early myths involving the night sky still exist somewhat today. Even though people don’t talk about the Greek gods, for instance, the stories surrounding them still influences literature today.
References
Hardin, R. & Mearsheimer, J. J. (1985) Special Issue: Symposium on Ethics and Nuclear Deterrence. Ethics, Vol 95. Retrieved from http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdfs/B0001.pdf
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). (2014). United States of America Country Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.iaea.org/PRIS/CountryStatistics/CountryDetails.aspx?current=US
Price, D. (2013) Europe Before Rome: A Site-by-Site Tour of the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University
Wells, K. (2013, June 29) Australian weather and seasons – a variety of climates. Australian Government. Retrieved from http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-weather-and-the-seasons

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