By in Science

Astronomy: Me and the Universe

When I was a youngster, I would go outside, particularly in the wintertime, and gaze, spellbound, at the night sky. How beautiful, how inspiring!

But when my parents bought me a kids' telescope, it was horribly inadequate and highly disappointing. I did not realize it, but a very large and expensive telescope is required, perhaps complete with motor drive to compensate for Earth's rotation. It was hopeless for me to hope that one day I could really "get into" astronomy.

Then along came the 8th grade and Mrs. Best, who required of us a report on what we would choose for our future occupation. This report would be graded for English but would also move us to consider our futures. Looking back, it entirely influenced my future vocation. Why?


I chose astronomy. The 7th grade science class had rekindled my desire to pursue the field of astronomy. I would gain access to the needed equipment as a result of obtaining a college education -- or so I thought. I spoke of it to Mom. How would she like my choice? She hated it. She shot it down. "NO! Not astronomy," she said. "You can't make a living as an astronomer." I was crestfallen.

My New Friend

In high school, I met a fellow who lived a few blocks away from me, who was older than me. He loved chemistry. I quickly befriended him and thrived on his fascination with chemistry. He made it come alive for me. Soon, I was convinced there was no better, more interesting field for me to pursue than chemistry. What would Mom say?

Mom Again

Surprisingly, Mom said, "Yes. You can find employment if you are a chemist." How happy her words made me. Besides, one of my mom's friends worked for Union Carbide. Maybe some day he could help me find employment as a chemist. And so, I attended Drexel Institute of Technology (soon called Drexel University), and I specialized in organic chemistry. I would love to have become involved in Quantum Organic Chemistry.

Thankful for Mom

I'm actually glad Mom shot down astronomy. Contrary to what she said, I could have found employment as an astronomer. But here's the rub: the astronomer engages largely in speculation. Oh, they interpret data they gather in the hopes of better understanding the universe. But their "science" is largely, by nature, speculation, not Truth.

In all things, I seek truth. In all things. Things that are true are proven true, indisputably. Some things are possible. Some probable. Some definite, yes true. Not that often in astronomy...

Image Credit » Astronomy Observatory

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MegL wrote on January 31, 2020, 4:20 PM

Can you prove the truth of chemistry? I know that if you add NaOH and HCl, you get NaCl and H20 - that is experimental but what about atoms and molecules? We have moved from the Greeks' idea of atoms as indivisible spheres to the ideas of electrons, neutrons, protons, etc and even quantum ideas. But are these PROVEN? Are they not also speculation?

VinceSummers wrote on January 31, 2020, 7:08 PM

We can even photograph atoms now, so we know they exist. The study of the atom is speculation/theory, and as such, it is not presented as fact - yet. Astronomy seems to be 30% inspiration, 70% imagination. Actually, I'm exaggerating in their favor.

kyntoxicity wrote on January 31, 2020, 9:34 PM

Me too I'm fanatic with the universe. But just there, only I'm a fan 'cause I find it very fascinating even I don't have complex knowledge to understand some of it.
That speculations you say is a very long process though. Just what we recently saw the actual picture of a "Black Hole" that speculated from Einstein's time or beyond.

PS. I hope you don't believe of some "'CREATOR' being" as you say you only seek truth. :)

VinceSummers wrote on February 1, 2020, 8:05 AM

I do.

MegL wrote on February 1, 2020, 10:05 AM

Can we actually photograph them? That must be a special machine?

VinceSummers wrote on February 11, 2020, 7:49 AM

There is a special microscope for seeing them, but here is a particularly interesting photo:

MegL wrote on February 12, 2020, 3:36 AM

That's amazing! Not really a "photo of an atom" but as they say, the closest we are ever likely to get. Someone took a lot of time to set that up!