Monday, August 27, 2012

In July 1969 this question would never have been asked

Alex Tabarrok offers this question,

Neil Armstrong, first moon walker, died yesterday.
In total, there have been twelve. Armstrong who was first, Peter Conrad who was 3rd, Alan Shepard who was 5th and James Irwin who was 8th, are gone, leaving just eight. Just eight of 7 billion. Alan Shepard was the oldest, he was born in 1923, the others were all born in the 1930s at a time when Orville Wright still lived. The youngest, Charles Duke, will be 77 this year.

Could we soon have an age where all the moon walkers are gone? Will children then wonder whether it happened at all?

In July 1969 we had reached out beyond our little planet and begun the journey to the stars. The possibility that one among us would not have walked among the heavens was not even a consideration.

Our place in the scale of things

Barrie Davenport brings scale to doubts

Our Place in the Cosmos

One other bit of research and learning has had a significant impact on my perspective about my life and my problems. Even though I’m a right-brained, English major, intuitive type, I’ve become fascinated with elements of quantum physics and theories on the multiverse and the discovery that the universe is expanding at a rapid rate.
I’ve trudged through a few books on the topics by Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene. I can’t intelligently articulate the theories or findings, but I do understand clearly that the cosmos around us is larger than we can imagine. Trying to comprehend it makes my brain hurt.
Look at this little statistic.
In the book The Science of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the author Mike Hanlon says, “In July 2003, scientists at a meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Australia announced their latest estimate for the number of stars in the Universe – 70 sextillion. That is 7 followed by a mind-boggling 22 zeros… The new estimate means that the number of stars in the visible Universe is larger – quite a bit larger, actually – than the total number of all the grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth…”
If you want some additional perspective on our human existence in relation to our position in the universe, take a look at this series of photographs:
Here’s our lovely Earth looking beautiful and ample, especially compared with poor Pluto, the non-planet.

Oh dear. Earth is not quite as colossal as it seems. Jupiter looks like the big bully on the planet playground.

Well, at least we know Big Daddy Sun is looking out for us, even though we’re pretty puny. Pluto is pitiful. At least we’ve got that going for us.

Uh oh. No Earth in sight.

Look at Antares and Betelgeuse.  Ever hear of them? Antares is more than 1000 light years away and the 15th brightest star in the sky. Sun is that ridiculous white speck next to the dinky orange dot.

These photos represent only our solar system within our one galaxy.
But according to scientists, there are around 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) galaxies in the known universe, as far as current telescopes can detect. Some of these galaxies may hold up to 100,000,000,000 stars, but most galaxies probably contain at least 10,000,000,000 stars.

What Does it Mean?

In the scheme of things, our little problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. (Apologies to Humphrey Bogart.) We are a speck on a speck — times infinity.
This knowledge can be completely depressing or totally liberating. It can make you question everything you believe or get really clear about your life.
So here’s the conclusion I have reached for what it’s worth.
I have a very short time on a very small, but beautiful planet. I have many wonderful things at my disposal — people I love, interesting work, fun things to do, new things to learn every day, incredible beauty all around me.
Yes, sometimes crappy random things happen, and they disrupt my life. But I don’t want them to disrupt it any longer than they must.
I want to savor and enjoy as much of life as I possibly can every single day. I don’t want to waste a minute worrying or thinking about problems. And I want make the world better in some small way before I leave it.
That’s all I know for sure, and that’s what I intend to do.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

get by with a little help

Brant Secunda and Mark Allen explain how to Ask for help!

Train your mind to see possibilities, not limits.

We call this weight lifting for the soul. Competitive athletes and other high performers are often held back more by their negative emotions than by their mental and physical abilities. Practice letting do of thoughts that weigh you down.
Instead of “This is too hard,” let the thought be “I have all it takes to make it through.” Instead of “This is a waste of time,” ask yourself “What can I learn right now?” Instead of “I don’t have the time,” ask “How can I make my next steps a success?” Lift the weight from your soul and let the positive aspects of life become your identity.

Remedy self-doubt and discouragement with an action.
We can transform “what ifs” simply by taking action. Action creates joy, hope, and positive thoughts, and sustains our health and fitness goals. A number of studies have corroborated the fact that exercise has a positive and significant effect on people with depression. The act of moving your body, and doing it consistently, helps to counteract negative emotions, such as self-doubt, that get in the way of your competitiveness.
Bottom line: when self-doubt about reaching your destination starts to creep in and you feel you “can’t do it” or “will never get there,” there’s a simple remedy. Take action. Start moving. And do it consistently—every day.

Ask for power and energy from the earth.
At age 37 Mark went to Hawaii to defend his title as the returning World Champion, competing against other triathletes nearly half his age. In the bike portion, a 24-year-old German flew by Mark as if on a motorcycle. By the end of the bike segment he had amassed a lead of more than 13 minutes. Soon three others passed him as well. Mark was feeling defeated, discouraged, and ancient.
And then he remembered a simple tip Brant had taught him. His body and soul were already in great shape. All he needed was a little help. “Everything is alive,” Brant had told him. “The trees, the stones, the earth. Call out when you need help.” He called out to the Big Island, standing over 30,000 feet tall from its base at the ocean floor to its highest point atop Mauna Kea. Its power is undeniable. Mark called out: “Help me! I’ll give it everything I have, but I need your help!” He began to gain steam. At mile 23 of the marathon, he finally caught the leader, three miles after that he closed out his Ironman career with a sixth World Championship title in a race that would go down as the greatest comeback in Ironman history.

Competing and winning are about more than working out and working hard. Learn how to develop a calm, confident, optimistic mindset bolstered by a balanced life. A fit soul, along with a fit body, will help you succeed at anything.