Turns out that Earth has a very long address.
Just ask Marcia Bartusiak, the award-winning science writer and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is out with her seventh book.
"One of the reasons I called my new book Dispatches from Planet Three, is that's part of the Earth's address. We are planet three, solar system, on the Sagittarius spiral arm of the milky way, Virgo super cluster, Universe, Multiverse. We have a very long address."
Bartusiak, 68, teaches graduate-level science writing at MIT and the full title of her book is a bit long, as well: "Dispatches from Planet Three, 32 (brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way and Beyond." It is a collection of cosmological essays for the 'armchair astronomer,' from the solar system to the big bang theory.
The essays offer readers an understanding of the nature of the universe and provide the backstory on how those ideas came to originate.
According to her website, the essays provide details about "many momentous astronomical discoveries, including the contributions of such pioneers as Beatrice Tinsley and her groundbreaking research in galactic evolution, and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the scientist who first discovered radio pulsars."
Bartusiak pointed to the more recent discovery of gravitational waves.
"It means that as really heavy masses, like two black holes or two neutron stars spinning around each other, they would cause these waves to spread out, just as a pebble dropped in a pond will send out ripples, two black holes spinning around one another will create waves in space-time."
Even Earth will be recycled ... one day
Bartusiak said we don't have to worry about that stretching and squeezing here on Earth. Since there are no black holes relatively near us, by the time gravitational waves arrive on Earth, they are smaller than the width of an atomic particle.
That doesn't mean there's nothing to worry about. We're all going to be recycled. Even the Earth will one day be recycled, she said.
"Five billion years from now our sun will start to expand and turn into a red giant star and that stellar atmosphere will reach out here to Earth, and Earth will get incinerated,'' she said. "And its ashes will once again go into the interstellar pool and maybe at some point get reabsorbed into another star-forming new planet." Bartusiak said the trick really, is to not worry about that someday. But to enjoy life, right now.
"I believe like everything else in the world — the tree outside my window, my dog, the fish in the sea — that we all come to an organic end. So, that's why we have to appreciate this world, even more, she said. "Because we do have just a slice of time when our consciousness is active and taking this all in.
"We need,'' she said, "to appreciate it as it is happening."
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