Cosmic Awe

Cosmic Awe

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As many of you know, I’m fortunate enough to live in a city that values science and scientific knowledge so highly that the our local news station, KGW, routinely brings on scientists to talk about the lastest developments in our endeavors to understand the Universe around us. Just last week, I was invited to share five wonderful minutes of airtime with the viewers of not just Portland, OR, but (thanks to the web) all over the globe.

But what you won’t see in this clip was what happened during the commercial break, leading up to this segment, which is why host Joe Donlon and I were mid-conversation when the clip started. He asked me about what I had studied in graduate school, and so I started to describe, well, the physical Universe, from the hot Big Bang to how it cooled, expanded, and evolved into the Universe we’re fortunate enough to inhabit today.

What he said to me after that was something that I’ve heard often, but that I’ve never addressed here. He said to me,

You know, I can’t really think about something like that for too long. It makes my head hurt, and it starts to freak me out a little bit.

It’s a sentiment that is far from universal, but one that I think I understand, because when I think about it, I freak out, too.