The Most Astounding Fact

I write this in a very humbled yet inspired state, and I'll explain the cause soon.

Since I decided I wanted to teach high school science, I've been exploring physics in the classroom and outside. My affinity for physics as opposed to chemistry or biology, is that I love asking 'Why?' and I want my students to be able do the same. I want them to have questions about everything. The thing about high school physics is that I can answer a lot of those questions. I can take it back to a fundamental law, probably in Mechanics. Electricity and Magnetism is a little harder, but still doable (I know virtually nothing about quantum electrodynamics, but I can take them to the level above that).

Chemistry, on the other hand, is much more complex. From what I understand, most of chemistry comes down to an understanding of Schdinger's Equation. Then you can understand why this electron hangs out here rather than there. Biology adds the next layer of intricacy. These electrons tend to do this, which causes atoms to do this, and then molecules do this, and then you have life, a fantastic soup of fortunate chemistry. I think you are best suited to teach something if you have a fundamental understanding of it - to be able to ask why, and trace it to basic building blocks. I've nothing against chemists :). It's just not my thing.

Even if I had the time to pursue Chemistry now at an Undergrad level, there are still other things that draw me to physics. Astrophysics is one of them. The questions of What and How we are have tremendous answers in Cosmology (the study of the Universe).

I met an Astronaut last week. Another memory for my bucket list. Space exploration is just awesome. No one's been very far out there. We dream about it, make movies about it, look up at it and just wonder. 




So anyway, What are we? How are we? Today I heard the best-articulated answer to those questions I have ever heard. I beg you to watch this, and more importantly, listen to it with every ounce of you that has ever wondered about things bigger than yourself.

Asked to one of my role models, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?"




Here's the transcript, but I strongly recommend the 2-minute listen. 

The most astounding fact.. is the knowledge, that that atoms that comprise life on Earth - the atoms that make up the human body - are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core, under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars, the high mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy: guts made of Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and all of the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become parts of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems - stars with orbiting planets - and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up, many people feel small - 'cause they're small and the universe is big - but I feel big. because, my atoms came from those stars. There's a level of connectivity. That's really what you want in life. You want to feel connected, want to feel relevant. You want to feel like you're a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That's precisely what we are, just by being alive.