Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Honk honk!

The Earth travels on its orbit around the sun at a speed of 30 kilometers per second.

The Sun's orbital speed is 200 kilometers per second.

The Solar System itself is moving about the center of the galaxy at 230 kilometers per second.

Our galaxy, along with others, is moving towards a region of space called the Great Attractor at 1000 kilometers per second.

Kilometers per SECOND

And those are the speeds at which we are hurtling along in space.

Suddenly, I don't feel so smug no more.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Mess-merized.

I found myself mesmerized this week. It's a word I rarely use. Yet now, I have three instances that caused this adjective to come true,

First. Hayabusa-


This is a guided spacecraft released by the Japanese Space Agency JAXA. It's mission? To travel to asteroid Ryugu, collect samples and return to Earth. It's a six year journey. Launched in 2014, Hayabusa-2 is slated to return in the end of 2020.

Now for the interesting part! The geniuses in JAXA have created a website that shows the location of Hayabusa in space! I tell you, it's hypnotic. The numbers of the bottom of the screen show how far it is from Earth, how close to Ryugu and how long it's been since the launch. These are constantly changing numbers and as I stare at them against the backdrop of a twinkling map of space, I find myself hypnotized. I can imagine this craft hurtling through the blackness of space. Of space!!!  The numbers themselves are mind boggling (9 digits!) and make it all too real just how unbelievably vast these distances are. Growing up with a scaled down map of the solar system in text books and Picard shooting everywhere in seconds at warp speed, this is an eyeopener. I stare at the dot that is Hayabusa and I can almost imagine being there, on that lonely journey surrounded by a near perfect blackness.

Second. This Little Girl.


I can't help it. It's like some mental illness, watching this child. I can't stop if I start. Late last night, eyes burning, I watched Youtube videos of her for at least an hour. She goes from dish to dish, chomping away without a break, without judgement - all foods being equal to her. I don't know if I envy her or not. As a foodie, I want to eat like her, but as I watch, spellbound, I can't help wondering if she actually tastes it all. It's still fascinating. I feel like she's doing the right thing with her life. I want to too.

Xiaoman is her name and Paris Mina is the Youtube Channel posting her videos.

Third. This conversation.

Me: "So what kind of books do you like to read?"
Guy: "Fiction. And non-fiction."

Coming at the back of a long line of teeth-rattling conversations, this one answer (that I henceforth dub 'The Last Straw') did for me what I imagine a million tons of rocket fuel can not - it stripped my mind blank and launched me into a space so black, I think I'm catching up with Hayabusa.

My re-entry will be mesmerizing.