An Hour for Every Star

Since the estimate for the number of stars in the universe is somewhere in the ballpark of 1022 to 1024, a chemist could be forgiven if he imagined that there are a mole of stars out there: 6.022 X 1023 . That would imply that for every molecule of water filling a slightly over-sized tablespoon, there is approximately one star in the universe, like one of the various sun-types on the main sequence or like one of the dwarfs or soon-to explode-giants.
There are in fact so many stars that if you programmed a computerized telescope for every person on earth to devote just an hour to explore each different star, it would take the lifespan of our sun, 10 billion years, to complete the task.

It’s a humble reminder that even if we had the mental capacity, we would be incapable of knowing everything because of the time restriction. From the point of view of an individual life, which is far more restricted in both aptitude and duration, that truth becomes even more pronounced. But that should not deprive anyone or any civilization from continuing the enjoyable journey of mental discovery.

Of course, it would be naive that science is restricted to gaining a better understanding of the world around us. It is tainted when it serves politics, our egos and unsustainable economies. But as pure as it could be in an ideal world, it would never make literature, humanities and the arts less important because those realms address morals, aesthetics and everyday individual existence in a way that science could barely touch. Conversely, too often people in those disciplines do not realize how important creativity has always been in designing experiments and in creating scientific models that make often highly abstract ideas more tangible.

With regard to cosmology, science is far from having all the answers. But different religions have contradictory explanations about the origin of the universe, so it’s more likely that they are all incorrect rather than assume that a single religion stumbled upon the truth, especially when none of the ideas are based on any evidence. But even in a scientific world, those who use religion to live in a more humble and selfless manner rightfully should continue to abide by their beliefs. But I don’t see how dropping the creation myths would get in the way of better behavior.

And for those who claim allegiance to religion while being as selfish as anyone else, they would be better off dropping the whole thing. In the same manner, science does not need those who fudge, twist their data or sell it to a lesser cause.


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