Bloggerhood Etc. 9/22/2014

Final Score: 34-37

Image: Washington Redskins

Inspired by the Redskins ugly and infuriating loss to the Eagles and a weird tweet predicting that loss, I’m taking a slightly different approach to my usual blogosphere roundup. Here’s the worst of the week beginning with that tweet. Enjoy!

Worst tweet.

O … kay. And what did I ever do to him. Besides linking him here numerous times. Such a talented writer. I’m heartbroken …

Worst Tenure Review.Back From Yet Another Globe Trotting Adventure, Indiana Jones Checks His Mail and Discovers That His Bid for Tenure Has Been Denied” by Andy Bryan at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Don’t you know the old saying, Indy? Grab the idol and run, don’t get squished by giant bolder, find the Ark of the Covenant, close your eyes while the Nazis get their faces blown off, AND PUBLISH … or perish.

Worst Example of an Ignorant Evangelical.A Southern Baptist Who Accepts Evolution” shared by Tyler Francke on God and Evolution.

Don’t you mean “God OR Evolution,” Tyler?

Worst Sign (from the same article).

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The Observable Universe

A logarithmic illustration of the observable universe.

The Observable Universe by Pablo Carlos Budassi (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A “logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe with the Solar System at the center, inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, nearby galaxies, Cosmic Web, Cosmic microwave radiation and Big Bang’s invisible plasma on the edge.”

Original image at Wikimedia Commons (4288 x 4288 pixels).


Powers of Ten

Here’s a video I remember seeing at the National Air and Space Museum when I was a kid:

The ’70s aesthetic of the video dates it a bit, as does the forty-year-old astronomy. But the way it conveys the incomprehensible vastness of the universe is still awe-inspiring.

But one line always stuck with me: “This lonely scene . . . is what most of space looks like. This emptiness is normal—the richness of our own neighborhood is the exception.” Others, when hearing this line, understand it as reinforcing the scientific materialist view of our insignificance. I don’t. I understand it as a comment on how “exceptional” we are. Being the exception to the rule is what makes our world significant, and within our world it’s what makes us significant. No other animal, no matter how intelligent, can conceive of the world beyond the immediate horizon. We can see, theorize, and speculate on the nature of the universe itself.

There may only be a few earth-like planets in our galaxy or there may be many. That doesn’t matter, when almost all the universe is emptiness the very rare exceptions are special, and we are the exception among exceptions. We aren’t at the center of the universe—there is no center—and we wouldn’t want to be at the center of the galaxy or the solar system—both are uninhabitable. There is no privileged place—besides a habitable zone around a main sequence star that allows us to exist at all—our privilege is having the unique (and as far as we know, only) intelligence capable of figuring at least some of these things out.

To comprehend at even an imperfect level the vastness and complexity of creation, makes us closer to the creator (if there is one) than any other creature we know of. One might say it makes us uniquely in the Image of God.

That, to me, is even more awe-inspiring.