Every winter Joe and I try to spend quality time learning new things. This year, for example, we’ve wandered through three iconic English castles and three of that country’s picture-book English villages, attended nine riveting lectures on astrophysics, two on quantum mechanics, and two on dark matter, given by our teacher, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson. (Watch his “The inexplicable Universe.” It’s marvelous. And FREE.)
We studied the Southern African coastal waters and the amazing flora and fauna that call that area home. And on and on...(If we had more questions afterward we opened the computer and asked it to clarify.)
There are so many travelogues ! FREE!
Here’s the thing: experiencing these marvels doesn’t cost much. A few dinners out. Joe and I own a large flat screen TV, and subscribe to Netflix ($8 mo. or $96 a yr.) and Amazon Prime ($99 yr.). The subscriptions permit access to great movies, too (most of which are free) on our computers connected to the internet. The best way to watch, though, is via wireless on a flat screen TV. To do that one must also buy a jimcrack on Amazon called Amazon Fire TV for $90, or Fire TV Stick for $40 that connects to one’s flat screen TV.
There are so many excellent documentaries! In the evening we get comfortable in our living room and listen to various experts explain mysteries, like the Aurora Borealis, or how our planet formed, or all about our solar system’s massive marvels, using the Hubble telescope, an incredible tool. (Oh, and now we have a pretty good understanding of how that works.)
There are institutes- one’s in Austria- that study the countless forms that snowflakes assume, depending on humidity and temperature? The goal? To learn how avalanches form. The scientists make snowflakes, tweaking humidity and temperature, so as to better recognize the dangerous ones.
No two snowflakes are alike. We saw that a snowflake in one sort of weather is very different from another, elsewhere.
We discovered that every snowflake makes a tinkling sound when it contacts a body of water, but sadly, the frequency is too high for humans to discern. Just imagine the weird symphony going on! (Can certain animals, like bats, hear it??)
When a topic being discussed or demonstrated blows us away, and we want to discuss and absorb what we saw and heard, we simply press ‘pause’ and sort it out together, or press the ‘reverse’ button to hear the information again, to grasp it more fully.
We live in amazing times. We don’t need to roast in Egypt’s heat, or smother and choke in giant Sahara sandstorms, or worry about diving too deeply into the Mariana Trench, the ocean’s deepest area. We can go down into the Deep’s terrifying immensity, worry-free.
It’s bloody marvelous.
(Why spend the awesome amounts of time, and money to drive/fly to some of these places, when we can ‘go’ via technology.)
Our latest trip? We zipped to Geneva, Switzerland to see the Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. This immense miles-long machine is trying to unlock the universe’s secrets. It’s found proof the Higgs boson particle (whatever that is) does exist. Scientists have found (and named) Gluon, the glue that keeps these impossibly tiny particles stuck together.
And on and on...
There are more GALAXIES out there than grains of sand on every beach on this planet!! We had to stop the show to take deep breaths.
This sort of stuff gets a person out of himself, opens a brain to countless impossible things- that exist.
Knowledge may not be power for we two elderly folks, but absorbing it elevates and stimulates our imaginations. There is SO MUCH to learn- about anything a soul is curious about. It’s all out there!
Insects. Newest Dinosaur discoveries. India. Mars. Jupiter. Lichen. Pompeii.
World’s Great Religions. Redwood Forests. Spidermites. Tide pools
Roman toilets. Fleas. Best sort of dogs. Peru’s Archeology.
Australia’s Outback. Giant Termite Hills. Great Art.
Insect Life in a French Meadow- with no words!
Comet Shoemaker-Levy slamming into Jupiter.
Giant Tube Worms living in boiling vents.
And on and on and on and on..................................................