Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

A Journey From Face To Space

40 Comments

Last night, while taking a mini-vacation of the mind to decompress from the bombardment of idiocracy that has surfaced during this presidential election, I came across a sleeper video that was uploaded on YouTube in January of 2012.

It didn’t gain an audience until this year, when it was posted on a Facebook page, The Science World. In no time it went viral, with 10’s of millions of views. Perhaps you’ve seen it. If not, here’s an opportunity. Some background:

Astrophysicist Danail Obreschkow, from the University of Western Australia (Perth), specializes in studying the rotation of galaxies and the ways stars form in galaxies. He came up with an idea for an arts class.

Obreschkow: “I was teaching an arts class … a bunch of 200 non-scientists, and I thought I wanted to do something a bit nice and trendy to explain to them the different scales of the universe.”

Using Google Earth, actual photos, and accurate renderings of state-of-the-art computer models, the 3 minute journey takes you out 10 billion light-years in outer space, then to inner space, exploring tiny elementary particles of the human eye.

Generated by a Smart phone app Dr Obreschkow developed called ‘Cosmic Eye’, his inspiration came from a short film made for IBM called ‘Powers of Ten’ (1977).

Obreschkow: “You don’t really need to know anything about science or anything about the universe.You just watch the video and you get an appreciation for how big things can be and how small things can be. I think it triggers quite a lot of emotion with people.”

 

 

Btw, that’s not the original music, nor is this video from Dr. Obreschkow’s YT channel. After a search on YT, I chose to post this one because the original has an abrupt ending, like a bone-jarring thud of a space capsule plunging into the ocean.

Reference

Reference

 

good-weekend

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Advertisements

Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

40 thoughts on “A Journey From Face To Space

  1. That was amazing ! Thanks for sharing Victoria ! Nice hearing from you. Have a fantastic weekend !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant. I’ve seen similar before, but the camera has not panned so far out, nor has it gone back and dived into the body. Perspective. It can be breath-taking. And that woman has a beautiful smile too, which is a lovely start and end to it all.

    Smile folks. – *nods*

    Have a marvellous weekend yourself Victoria.

    – esme waving upon the Cloud

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Whilst I was one of the tens of millions you mention, Victoria, it was great to see this here and as a result realise once again my utter insignificance. I like that feeling, actually, and had it very strongly during a full solar eclipse here in England a few years ago. There’s something liberating in sensing one’s total redundancy to the Blind Watchmaker’s workings. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • “There’s something liberating in sensing one’s total redundancy to the Blind Watchmaker’s workings.”

      I agree.

      A man said to the universe:
      “Sir, I exist!”
      “However,” replied the universe,
      “The fact has not created in me
      A sense of obligation.”

      ― Stephen Crane

      However, I find a paradox in it all. While I feel small and insignificant, I also have a sense of feeling big and significant.

      “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 because 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.”

      ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

      🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks for the quotes Victoria, the second of which reminded me of this:

        “You are roughly eighteen billion years old and made of matter that has been cycled through the multi-million degree heat of innumerable giant stars. You are composed of particles that once were scattered across thousands of light years of inter-stellar space; particles that were blasted out of exploding suns and that for eons drifted through the cold, starlit vacuum of the galaxy. You are very much a child of the cosmos.”

        – David Darling, from Equations of Eternity

        Liked by 3 people

        • Oh, that’s a great quote, and quite similar to the first half of the quote I posted from Tyson when asked by a reader of TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” A video or two was later made, which I’m sure you’ve seen. Then there’s Phil Helleness, whose videos are quite excellent.

          In one of them he states:

          ” It’s like the universe screams in your face, “Do you know what I am? How grand I am? How old I am? Can you even comprehend what I am? What are you, compared to me?” And when you know enough science, you can just smile up at the universe and reply,

          “Dude, I am you.”

          When I looked at the galaxy that night, I knew the faintest twinkle of starlight was a real connection between my comprehending eye along a narrow beam of light to the surface of another sun. The photons my eyes detect (the light I see, the energy with which my nerves interact) came from that star. I thought I could never touch it, yet something from it crosses the void and touches me. I might never have known. My eyes saw only a tiny point of light, but my mind saw so much more.

          I see the invisible bursts of gamma radiation from giant stars converting into pure energy by their own mass. The flashes that flashed from the far side of the universe long before Earth had even formed. I can see the invisible microwave glow of the background radiation leftover from the Big Bang. I see stars drifting aimlessly at hundreds of kilometers per second, and the space-time curving around them. I can even see millions of years into the future.

          That blue twinkle will blow up one day, sterilizing any nearby solar systems in an apocalypse that makes the wrath of human gods seem pitiful by comparison—yet it was from such destruction that I was formed. Stars must die so that I can live.

          I stepped out of a supernova . . . And so did you.”

          🙂

          Liked by 4 people

          • Very beautiful, Victoria, and when Tyson talks of connectivity in the video you link to, I suspect that’s precisely what Bela and I allude to when we talk of sensing our personal insignificance – it’s not necessarily to do with spatial relativity to our body, but more the absenting of spatial boundaries, the dissolving of the isolative and mind-created ‘me consciousness’ into the vastness; or phrased differently, sensing the voidness of the absence of self-centricity. Does that make any sense, or sound like woo to you? It does to many, I know. No matter. 🙂

            Anyway, here’s one that I found very recently and which got the kundalini rising up the spine. It’s a virtualisation of the orbital motions of over 100,000 asteroids as seen by a single survey telescope – the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. All main-belt asteroids and Trojan asteroids with orbits known to high precision are shown. The animation is rendered with a time-step of 3 days. The average orbital distances of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter are illustrated with rings:

            H ❤

            Liked by 4 people

            • Great video, H. You wrote:

              “it’s not necessarily to do with spatial relativity to our body, but more the absenting of spatial boundaries, the dissolving of the isolative and mind-created ‘me consciousness’ into the vastness; or phrased differently, sensing the voidness of the absence of self-centricity. Does that make any sense,”

              Yes, it does make sense. The irony, however, is that it was that very instinctive “self-centricity” that kept us from dying during our early years while being totally dependent on our primary care givers. Btw, I don’t see you, as an individual, as insignificant, not even in the grand scheme of things. “I Am — We Are.” Two hemispheres, with two distinct personalities, make up one mind called the brain. The left — attributed to the “ego”, and the right which dissolves spatial boundaries. Both are equally as important.

              Here’s the thing, I experienced decades of religious indoctrination where I was told I was insignificant, therefore I needed to empty myself out, stripping me of my uniqueness. It was after I experienced what you call a kundalini awakening, that I embraced my uniqueness and individuality, while at the same time, knowing that in no way, shape or form, does my uniqueness and individuality take away from my connection with the whole. Does that make sense? 🙂

              Liked by 3 people

              • Well, then I quite understand your objection to my use here of the idea of ‘insignificance’, Victoria, and which is a rather emotive term in any case, and especially if for you it came to be associated with religious indoctrination. I’ve never been religiously inclined myself, as I couldn’t ever buy into the soul idea, metempsychosis, or any religious cosmologies. It sounds a little as if your experience in religious circles sought to deprive you of your personal traits, which if true, would be deeply concerning for you, I’m sure. I don’t doubt your uniqueness, nor my own, but then any bodily aggregation of life can rightly be considered unique, would it not seem?

                I suspect we’re at risk here of getting a little bogged down in our respective ways of expressing ourselves, but (fwiw) I see nothing at all in what you say that I could possibly question. Here is perhaps not the best place to go into the huge subject of selfhood, and which ranges from our primitive adoption of the capacity to stabilise percepts on the African savannah, through incipient self-awareness as toddlers, and on into the adoption of the self as a social construct, as well as the immersion into an embedded ‘me consciousness’ – that latter being the most insidiously pernicious, and (I would argue) no longer a requirement for our specie’s survival. It’s this last given sense of self-centricity that may dissolve when witnessing the scenes depicted in these videos and the situations described in your quotes here, and which I think is an experience available to all, whether religious or not. They invariably come to be described as ‘spiritual experiences’, which term I personally don’t warm to (sorry, William James), but then I don’t think that they’re solely a brain story either.

                Thanks for the discussion Victoria; this one’s quite different to the one we had at Esme’s place, isn’t it? 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                • “this one’s quite different to the one we had at Esme’s place, isn’t it?”

                  hahahah — just a wee bit. You made me snort.

                  You wrote: ” It’s this last given sense of self-centricity that may dissolve when witnessing the scenes depicted in these videos and the situations described in your quotes here, and which I think is an experience available to all, whether religious or not. They invariably come to be described as ‘spiritual experiences’ which term I personally don’t warm to . . .”

                  Your comment reminded me of something else Phil Hellenes said in one of the videos I posted, and I couldn’t agree more that these experiences happen whether one religious or not. If you haven’t watched that particular video by Phil, I’ll set the stage: It’s summer, and Phil was staying in a caravan a long way from the nearest city. He said it was usually pitch black at night but after a few minutes of standing in darkness, he realized he could see his hand quite clearly, which he hadn’t been able to do on previous nights.

                  He said he looked up expecting to see the glow of a full moon, but the moon was nowhere in sight. What he saw, instead, was a long glowing cloud directly overhead — the Milky Way. So he shares a few basic facts and figures about the Milky Way galaxy. From this point, I’ll quote him:

                  These numbers are essential to understanding what a galaxy is, but when contemplating them, some part of the human mind protests that it cannot be so. Yet an examination of the evidence brings you to the conclusion that it is. And if you take that conclusion out on a clear dark night and look up, you might see something that will change your life.

                  That night under the Milky Way, I, who experienced it, cannot call the experience a religious experience, for I know it was not religious in any way. I was thinking about facts and physics, trying to visualize what is, not what I would like there to be. There’s no word for such experiences that come through scientific and not mystical revelation.

                  The reason for that is that every time someone has such a “mindgasm”, religion steals it simply by saying, “Ahh, you had a religious experience.” And spiritualists will pull the same shit. And both camps get angry when an atheist like me tells you that I only ever had these experiences after rejecting everything supernatural. But I do admit that after such experiences (the moments when reality hits me like a winning lottery ticket) I often think about religion… and how lucky I am that I am not religious.

                  ————————

                  You wrote: “but then I don’t think that they’re solely a brain story either.”

                  Can you elaborate?

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Great discussion here!

                    As I was reading this comment I started to think about the Walt Whitman poem “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer that I wrote a blog post about last year. The poem contrasts a stuff astronomy lecture to just going out and looking at the stars. The idea that science muddies the beauty of the world has always bothered me, and I talk about that in my post. What just occurred to me that was also unfair about Whitman’s poem is that it seems to not consider the fact that the astronomer giving the lecture might very well also love looking at the stars. And that what he knows scientifically about it gives him an even greater appreciation while looking up. And I think a lot of scientists have these kinds of spiritual experiences and I think there is an added depth to those experiences when your understanding of what you’re looking at is greater. Otherwise it’s just magic, and while magic can be beautiful it seems more superficial somehow. I love watching magic tricks, but what impresses me about them was not that I was fooled, but knowing that there is a reason that I was fooled. There was a process used by the magician. My cognitive biases were exploited, and to me this makes the trick even more genius.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • That particular post you embedded is one of my favorites by you. I agree that it tends to bother me that some people think scientific understanding takes away from the beauty of the world, but then again, I think that those who believe that way aren’t seeing the bigger picture.

                      “I think there is an added depth to those experiences when your understanding of what you’re looking at is greater. “

                      I couldn’t agree more.

                      ” I love watching magic tricks, but what impresses me about them was not that I was fooled, but knowing that there is a reason that I was fooled. There was a process used by the magician. My cognitive biases were exploited, and to me this makes the trick even more genius.”

                      Well said. The world became far more beautiful to me the day I closed the bible and opened a science book.

                      Liked by 1 person

          • Thankyou Victoria, and I’ve now watched the superb video by the Philhellenist. Do you know who’s actually behind it, the lover of all things Grecian, or have they commonly just been accepted as a bloke called Phil? I tend to be a bit cautious about accepting information from anonymous sources, ‘though I don’t think anything controversial was stated in the video, save perhaps for the idea that a distant galaxy can illuminate a nearby object clearly – I may be wrong, and it may indeed be possible. I wouldn’t know about the actual numbers quoted in the video, but they would be mind-boggling in any case, of course. 🙂

            As to elaboration on the brain story, then all I can really say is that I remain open on Theory of Consciousness. I think that’s the only sensible place to be really. I’m still open on there actually being a Hard Problem, and on theories like Tononi’s IIT, something like Honderich’s Radical Externalism, Penrose and Hameroff’s OrchOR, and Chalmers’ suggestion that some form of panpsychism may be at play in that subjectivity may be a fundamental aspect of nature we’ve not yet explored. I know that consciousness – i.e. ‘being with knowledge’ – is of course brain dependent and arises out of physical function. But its illumination, or what we might call awareness, remains an open question. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for your feedback, Hariod, and for taking the time to watch the video. For the record, he was speaking of our home galaxy, not a distant galaxy, and can certainly see why it could illuminate an object or objects on earth when the conditions are just right.

              I’m not sure if Phil Hellenes is his read name, but I know that well-known people who’ve interviewed him call him Phil. The facts and figures he shares in the video are readily available online. You’d probably enjoy my favorite video by him, which is Dust That Sings, especially at the end. 😉

              Thanks for the references. I’ll check them out. Btw, would you please send me a quick email (no hurry) so that I can have yours. It wasn’t listed in your gravatar, nor could I locate it on your blog. My email addy is listed in my gravatar. I’d like to send you something, and get your feedback.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks once again Victoria, and I again enjoyed the video you’ve most recently linked to. The whole atheism vs. creationists thing never got anything like as big over here as it did in the US, but I did (and always have) read Dennett, Harris and most particularly Hitch. Can I take a liberty and post a video here just to get away from all these big space things for a moment? I mentioned Roger Penrose, and you expressed an interest. He’s quite clever old boy, having once mentored Stephen Hawking at university. His book The Emperor’s New Mind is his initial foray into a non-computational Theory of Consciousness, and which he’s since developed as discussed here:

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Perspective is everything. I’m in total agreement with Hariod here as well (once again and no surprise) – it is comforting (and yes, liberating) to feel small. It keeps me in a state of perpetual wonder in this amazing universe we call home for a time. To imagine it otherwise is hubris, a quality that is all too obvious on the world stage. What good it can possibly do – or has ever done – is negligible. Aloha, Victoria!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Bela, happy you stopped by. You wrote:

      ” It keeps me in a state of perpetual wonder in this amazing universe we call home for a time.”

      I can so relate. Reminds me of something Dr. Obreschkow said during an interview:

      Most of the time in life, if you have a question, there is already an answer. In astrophysics we ask questions nobody on Earth knows the answer to. It is nice to get up in the morning with this challenge ahead – sometimes I skip breakfast because I just want to get to the office and keep going.”

      That’s the way I feel nearly every day — curious, inquisitive and filled with wonder. Often I lose track of time, and sometimes I skip meals while in pursuit of learning something new.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Hey Bela, if my reply to Victoria above @ 10:32 a.m. misrepresents you, do please let me know. H ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Awesome. And to think, just 2.5 generations ago we thought the milky way was the universe. Three generations ago, we thought the sun was a giant burning coal ball. What new knowledge will tomorrow bring…?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Wonderful video Victoria. That’s definitely the best video I’ve seen for going through both the macro and microscale. I’m definitely going to show this to students. And also watch it myself, when I am in a certain state of lucidity. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  7. This type of video always makes me wish that I had been smart enough to become a scientist and often makes me wonder what science will have discovered over the next couple of hundred years. Scientific discoveries and technology are the most exciting events we have and hopefully will always be the most beneficial and progressive for the human race. The ability to destroy life when in the wrong hands is also the unfortunate side effect for humanity, however so far so good and nothing so dynamic as science was ever without danger.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Well said. Btw, your comment about wishing you had been smart enough to become a scientist — based on several of the intelligent comments I’ve read from you on other blogs, I doubt you lack the smarts required to be a scientist. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Well, that was rather awe-inspiring, Victoria! Hope you have a great weekend, too! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Awe-inspiring, indeed. Thanks Carmen. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the nice comment Victoria, unfortunately I am a bit long in the tooth and the maths would trip me up. I know what I know mostly from reading yours and other blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “The history of science is filled with scientists like Darwin, Lavoisier and Linnaeus who were poor mathematicians but who revolutionized their fields. . . . The physicist Eugene Wigner did write an essay named “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences”, but even the greatest theoretical physicists of the twentieth century including Einstein, Fermi, Feynman and Bohr were really known for their physical intuition than for formidable mathematical prowess. “

        http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/do-you-need-to-know-math-for-doing-great-science/

        Eminent biologist E. O. Wilson, however, has good news for science lovers who are wary of higher math: You don’t have to be great at math to do great science. In fact, “Many of the most successful scientists in the world today are mathematically no more than semiliterate,” he writes.

        Wilson, who is famous for generating ultraoriginal and surprising ideas, writes in The Wall Street Journal that, “[f]ortunately, exceptional mathematical fluency is required in only a few disciplines, such as particle physics, astrophysics and information theory. Far more important throughout the rest of science is the ability to form concepts, during which the researcher conjures images and processes by intuition.”

        http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2013/04/why-good-scientists-dont-have-be-great-math

        So, OK, maybe it helps to be good at math if you want to get involved in astrophysics, but you don’t have to be good at math to be a great scientist.

        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for those interesting articles Victoria. I think the view that mathematical skills or the lack of these skills is discouraging for young people in science careers is absolutely correct.

          Unfortunately, science and learning establishments do not go to any lengths to address this problem and if my senior schooling from the mid 60’s is anything to go by and what I see my daughter having to learn in her maths classes today it is the overkill of the mathematical methods taught to the students who are expected to remember and pass exams with stuff that most of them will never see or use in 10 lifetimes, and I bet the same applies to pass university exams required for many of the scientific careers today.

          As an adult in the years of 2001 -2003 I obtained two college\ high school qualifications in chemistry and I was lucky enough to scrape through on a pass even though I could not complete most of the maths, however I failed the third and last level because of the overwhelming equations.

          I would call myself maths illiterate to some extent because learning and recalling it has always been a millstone around my neck. Fortunately, my daughter is quite the opposite.

          I do my own accounting for my small business and that is about my limit. 🙂

          Like

  9. Love that video! Shared on Twitter a while back.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello. A truth I do not understand well, but is true nonetheless, is that although I spend a lot of my day on YouTube and news sites, I learn more from the people whose blogs I follow. All I can say is thank you for expanding my world, my universe and helping me to understand new ideas. Many hugs

    Liked by 3 people

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s