10 Sublime Wonders of Science

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Science just gives facts. Our sense of meaning, in the big-picture, must derive from elsewhere. Right?

Wrong.

Below are 10 sublime wonders of science, to make your mind reel and your emotions swell. Scientific wonders about our world provide meaning in the same way that grand narratives and religious cosmologies have traditionally presented a big-picture vision of how the world came to be, our connection to what exists, and awe.

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1. The universe contains physical laws and naturalistic processes that allow complexity to emerge. Without this feature, then nothing.

2.There are more stars in the universe than words ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived.

Written By: Lawrence Rifkin
continue to source article at blogs.scientificamerican.com

14 COMMENTS

  1. A lot of mumbo jumbo stuff in here. shame, a good list would have been interesting.

    “6. Conscious experience, along with existence itself, is the greatest scientific wonder of all. ”
    Well it might be, if consciousness exists.

  2. The universe contains physical laws and naturalistic processes that allow complexity to emerge.

    The Universe shows some statistical regularities that we have been able to model over some time and size scales with what we call “laws.” These regularities allow complexity to emerge on larger scales of time and size.

    • In reply to #3 by Quine:

      The universe contains physical laws and naturalistic processes that allow complexity to emerge.

      The Universe shows some statistical regularities that we have been able to model over some time and size scales with what we call “laws.” These regularities allow complexity to emerge on larger scales of…

      Much, much better.

    • In reply to #4 by rzzz:

      ’2.There are more stars in the universe than words ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived.”

      yes, but that doesn’t count the ‘ums’.

      I think it is a safe bet. There are about 10²⁴ stars, so if an “um” took about a second and you had 10 billion humans doing them 16 hours a day (every day) it would take 10²⁴/10¹⁰/60/60/16/365.25 = about 4.75 million years.

      • In reply to #7 by Quine:

        In reply to #4 by rzzz:

        ’2.There are more stars in the universe than words ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived.”

        yes, but that doesn’t count the ‘ums’.

        I think it is a safe bet. There are about 10²⁴ stars, so if an “um” took about a second and you had 10 billion humans doing them 16 hou…

        but, um, um, um, your um, possibly, um, correct, um.

  3. I was just thinking about this yesterday when Oprah made her idiotic comment about awe and wonder being god. What makes me feel a sense of wonder are scientific discoveries that show how unbelievably large, small or old things are. The numbers that science have to deal with are so massive that a tiny brain like mine cannot comprehend them properly, not even when they are put into perspective by comparing them to every day things. For example, it doesn’t really help to find out that something is one million times older than the average life time of a human being, even that is difficult to comprehend. Anyway, these are just a few examples I thought of yesterday that make me feel awe and wonder:

    1. The fact that we are childrens of stars, i.e. that all the heavier elements needed for life were created in supernovae a long time ago, far, far away, and then they spread all over the universe. Amazing!

    2. Life on our planet began around 3.5 billion years ago, and since then every single generation has managed to reproduce. That makes me feel a strong sense of kinship with not only other human beings but all forms of life. We are all products of an unbroken chain of reproduction. And since I have decided not to have children, I know that I will be the individual who breaks “my chain”, ending millions years of work that my ancestors did. There’s something poetic even about that.

    3. The nearest stars to our sun are 4.37 light years away. And those are the nearest ones! Even if we travelled there at the speed of light, it would take that 4.37 years to get there. If we used a space shuttle that travelled at a fair speed of 25,000 km/h, it would take us 43,200 years! Amazing, to say the least. And talking about stars, the largest known one has a diameter of 1,400 times that of our sun. That is massive. If it was placed in the centre of our solar system, its outer layer would extend outside the orbit of Jupiter.

    4. There’s a storm on Jupiter large enough to contain two to three Earths. And it has raged on for at least 180 years! Mind-blowing.

    5. In every human cell there’s about two meters of DNA strand.

    6. There are so many water molecules in a glass of water that when I drink a glass, the likelihood that it contains a molecule once drunk by Elvis (or any other person) is practically 100%.

    How could religions ever compete with this kind of information?

    • In reply to #6 by Aztek:

      I was just thinking about this yesterday when Oprah made her idiotic comment about awe and wonder being god. What makes me feel a sense of wonder are scientific discoveries that show how unbelievably large, small or old things are. The numbers that science have to deal with are so massive that a tin…

      Blasphemer. You must not question the almighty Oprah.

  4. Wasn’t the last paragraph giving meaning to Universe (and so life), just a play of words. Neither universe nor any cell of your body knows or cares about meaning. Its only a cascade of cause and effect. What results out of that whether consciousness or meaning is just an illusion, isn’t it?

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