Out of the many discoveries that have impacted both astronomy and my life, I will speak of two. The first of the two discoveries, being very recent in the annals of time, is the discovery of the expanding nature of the universe. The second discovery is simple and yet significant in the fact that the planet’s in our solar system circle around the sun in a consistent and measurable fashion.
The expanding nature of the universe was discovered back in 1913 by Vesto Melvin Slipher (Jastrow, 1992), although it is sometimes erroneously attributed to Edwin Hubble (Vesto Slipher, 2008). Since that initial discovery, scientists, philosophers and theologians have continued to wrestle with trying to understand the implications of this discovery.
One primary implication of the expanding universe has been referred to as the “Big Bang” theory. The Big Bang theory has fed into countless current understandings of the past, current and future state of the universe, thus providing great positive impacts to the world of astronomy and science itself.
Additionally, from a philosophical and theological perspective, this theory has continued to spur on interdisciplinary discussions within the sciences on answering the Primordial Existential Question “Why is there something, rather than nothing” (Sean, 2007).
The fact resting in the theory of the Big Bang that the observable universe had a beginning, has brought additional weight to philosophical and theological discussions that have been being discussed since the early history of Philosophy both by secular and religious philosophers: the idea that with a beginning, there must be some form of “Prime (or first) Mover” to set all things into motion.
The Scientific method is a means by which natural phenomena is observed, theories are put forth to explain the observations and tests are then performed to confirm or bring required modifications to the theories. While the discussions around the expanding universe still continue on, and there are many things yet to learn, what the Big Bang has brought to the table is the fact that there are some questions that can only be answered succinctly through the means of scientific observations and research, and there are other questions that will never be answerable through science, even with unlimited time and money (Jastrow, 1992).
In my earliest years, I thought science had the answer to everything, and in my middle years, I thought religion had the answer to everything, but now, I am coming to understand that a full picture of the questions of existence can only be grasped through the combined efforts of science and religion (Sir William Bragg, F.R.S. (1862-1942), 1962).
Next, coming closer to home to discuss the second discovery; I believe that the simple understandings gained from the planetary rotations have provided significant benefit to both astronomy and my personal life.
From an Astronomy perspective the observations completed by Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler and Galileo, lead to a series of laws (Kepler’s and Newtons) that can now be used to describe and predict observations of Astronomical proportions (including theories about galaxies and stars that are far out of our reach by billions of light years). These descriptions and observations continue to expound on our understanding of the multiverse in which we live.
From a personal perspective, I must say that eating food is quite a significant part of my daily routine (I must eat to live). The consistent movement of the earth around the sun helped us to develop a consistent measurement of time. With this consistent measurement of time farmers can known when to plant and when to harvest their crops so as to produce the necessary foods for me to consume! Thus, I eat, because the earth travels in a consistent manner around the sun, and we know that, because we have observed and tested it through the means of Astronomy.
Jastrow, R. (1992). God and the Astronomers. United States: Readers Library, Inc.
Sean. (2007, August 10). Why is there something, rather than nothing? Retrieved October 19, 2008, from Cosmic Variance: http://cosmicvariance.com/2007/08/30/why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing/
Sir William Bragg, F.R.S. (1862-1942). (1962). Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London
, 17 (2), 169-182.
Vesto Slipher. (2008, October 10). Retrieved October 19, 2008, from WikiPedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesto_Slipher