I was struck the other day by the number of tiny red “blood suckers” crawling around on my window sills and walls. It seems to me that I haven’t seen these tiny creatures in years, or maybe I just haven’t noticed them. Squishing them and the red streaks they leave are a distinct nostalgic memory from childhood summers along with Soda Stream, Wimbledon and rounders.
The hunt for other planets in the universe is going full steam ahead with thousands of planets having being found in orbit around distant suns. Telescopes and technology are progressing at a breakneck pace allowing us to probe the light from these distant worlds for traces of gases that might signify life. Probes in our own solar system are busy looking for the signs and signatures of life.
We’ve had all the experience of someone calling on the the phone just when we were thinking about them, or meeting someone we haven’t seen for ages just after they popped into our minds. Or what about somebody passing on just as the clock stops, or the weather does something strange, or a bird flies into the house and won’t leave. The coincidence can seem remarkable and we often assign a paranormal significance to it, as if randomness or chance can’t possibly be enough to explain the event.
Glance up at the moon any night and you will see a glistening silver orb that has inspired poets, writers musicians and philosophers. But if you actually look at the moon, you will notice some lighter and darker patches. These patches of light and dark make distinct patterns and shapes and so we have the”man in the moon” and the “moon rabbit”.
The universe is a strange and wonderful place, primarily empty space with a smattering of galaxies scattered about. Each galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars and the universe itself is so vast that it has one hundred billion galaxies. The enormity and scale is impossible to get our heads around and it takes rare geniuses like Einstein, Newton and even Hawking who have the uncanny ability to visualise, scrutinise and probe the depths and workings of the universe. Even the nearest star to us is 4 light years away, which in layman’s terms is a staggering 40 trillion kilometers, that is 40 with 12 zeros after it. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977 to study the solar system travels at 62,000 km/h. At this speed, It would take 73,000 years to get to the nearest star and a cool 640 million years to get to the centre of our galaxy!