Friday, November 7, 2008


Comet Hyakutake, at its closest approach to Earth, inbound toward the sun, only 1/10 Astronomical Unit (9.3 million miles) from our home planet.

One of my interests is cosmology, the study of the origins of our Universe. Carl Sagan was the spokesperson for this study for a long time, but I would like to share a discovery of mine.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a leading astrophysicist, and the director of the American Museum of Natural History's
Hayden Planetarium. His fascinating presentation, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, examines the origin of the Universe, the origin of our planet Earth, and the origins of life.

The Universe came into being about 14.7 billion years ago. Even today, we have much to explore and much to learn. Looking at some of the
images from the Hubble Space Telescope and robotic probes is one good way to learn about our Universe.

Everything on this Earth, ourselves included, is made up of a very limited number of elements. The early Universe was composed of mostly hydrogen and a little helium. Everything else, the oxygen, iron, calcium, and other elements in our bodies and on this round Earth were formed inside of stars and Supernovae.

But the elements made up of protons, neutrons and electrons are only a small portion of what makes up the Universe. All the "stuff" we know and can touch, and feel, and smell is called "baryonic matter". The other stuff, non-baryonic matter isn't something we fully understand yet, and it makes up 85% of the Universe. Go figure. Or just look up at the starry sky on a clear, cold, dark night and wonder.

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