Thursday, May 2, 2013

Carl Sagan is my close friend

If I sound like an astronaut today, it is because I pretty much am--according to a test I took last week at the wonderful Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian in DC. No, it wasn’t a real test, and it was probably geared towards children, but I’m going to take whatever consideration I can get from NASA. I know Dr. Burton gave a few suggestions on what to write about on our second blog posts, but the bold part said “Your choice” so I’m running with that and I’m going to talk about space, because space is awesome. For the last few years I have seen countless documentaries on Youtube and Netflix about space, and space travel, and the universe.  I feel like Carl Sagan is a close friend. Google moon made me giddy, and I  check up on the new Curiosity rover a few times a week.

I have a problem in that I get a lot of questions in my head, and I’m not satisfied with the answer. The more I know, the more I realize that I don’t know anything about anything. What started as a simple question, “We celebrate the moon landing so much, but how did the astronauts get back to their crewmate orbiting the moon in the command module?” lead to reading and watching countless hours of material about our universe, and the exploration of our close neighbors. The answer I read and even watching this fascinating footage (or just view it below) of apollo 17 leaving the moon wasn’t good enough. I guess what I really desired was not an answer to my question, but the knowledge and ability to answer the question (myself). I surprised myself (and my family) when I went to the Smithsonian and I was pulling all this knowledge out that I had been storing away for the last few years. It was a thrilling and rewarding experience.

This is why after listening to our first lecture and finding out a great deal of this class is student discretionary, I was thrilled. I’ve always approached school in this way, weather my instructors liked it or not. My physical science class was really my time to learn about space.  Was it practical? It seems not. You can get by in life by just knowing what you need to know, and you might even do exceptionally well and make a great living. I did not get an A in physical science, but I think I learned more than at least some of the people who did get A’s. I think thirsting for knowledge so you can have answers leads to making the world a better place and solving problems. They can’t teach it in school because it hasn’t been figured out yet.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s more important to be a great learner than it is to be a great student. Traditional education would sometimes have us believe differently, but I say let’s break from tradition. Don’t ever let school get in the way of your education.    


  1. :) I think we'll get on just fine. I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

  2. Any thoughts on "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" in relation to your post? Does analyzing astronomy take away the beauty for you, as it did for Whitman?

    1. It does make sense that a "learned astronomer" could have this effect on someone. The name lends itself to assuming the astronomer could have an inflated ego. No one likes a know-it-all. I prefer to be an I-don't-know-it-all, which makes the universe more mystical the more I learn. Sometimes the more you learn, the less you know. That's where I fall in. So the answer to your question is an absolute no, I find the universe is more beautiful as I have learned more.

  3. It seems that those who come to the realization that the more they learn the less they know, have learned quite a large lesson of life. That is the best place to be. . . . . .gin. Loved your post.