We are so small

I always loved the feeling of wonderment and incredulity that flooded my head during my college astronomy classes when I stopped and thought about the fact that I am 1 person of billions on a small rock of nine circling a star, our Sun. But our Sun is only one of 100 million (100, 000, 000) stars in our galaxy. And our galaxy is one of hundreds of billions (x00, 000, 000, 000+) in the universe…

What…?

I don’t think I’m able to wrap my small, small head around it.

Austin Green Art is installing a “Peppercorn Model of the Solar System” at the Triangle at 45th and Guadalupe, on view from next week until Earth Day on April 22nd:

If the Sun is an eight-inch ball, and the Earth is a peppercorn, they are 26 yards apart!  Which puts tiny Pluto (the size of a pinhead) a full half-mile away from the sun! Being green isn’t just changing your lightbulbs, it’s feeling your place true place in the universe. You’re a special conscious being on a special planet that supports the miracle of life.  If you feel it, you’ll help us change accordingly.

National Geographic reports that unseen forces may be tugging on our universe from the outside, which may suggest that our UNIVERSE may be a part of something ever largerperhaps a multiverse.

In an attempt to simplify the mind-bending concept, Kashlinsky says to picture yourself floating in the middle of a vast ocean. As far as the eye can see, the ocean is smooth and the same in every direction, just as most astronomers believe the universe is. You would think that beyond the horizon, therefore, nothing is different.

“But then you discover a faint but coherent flow in your ocean,” Kashlinsky said. “You would deduce that the entire cosmos is not exactly like what you can see within your own horizon.”

There must be an out-of-sight mountain river or ravine pushing or pulling the water. Or in the cosmological case, Kashlinsky speculates that “this motion is caused by structures well beyond the current cosmological horizon, which is more than 14 billion light-years away.”

It’d be like looking at this “Cell Size and Scale” interactive the opposite direction, but you’d probably keep going for eons.

Designing Bogotá’s streets for common happiness

Articlehttp://shareable.net/blog/can-we-design-cities-for-happiness

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nobara/

Highlights:

  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system
  • Lower traffic through straight rush hour bans and higher parking fees and taxes
  • Create and improving ciclorutas (bike lanes) and pedestrian sidewalks (keeping parked cars off)
  • Celebrating and opening the streets every Sunday for Ciclovía’s bikers and pedestrians

Streetfilms Video (Streetfilms documents livable streets worldwide):

(paraphrased from video) Bogotá’s model shows us that it takes political will more than money or anything else to create change and improve our cities.

Quote from Article:

[Former mayor Enrique] Peñalosa is proud of how his administration tamed the automobile in Bogota in order to meet the needs of those who do not own cars. Nearly all cities around the globe accommodate motorists at the expense of everyone else, turning the streets—a commons that once was used by everyone, including pedestrians and kids at play—into the exclusive domain of motorists. In the developing world, where only a select portion of people own motor vehicles, this is particularly unfair and detrimental to a sense of community.

The streets were reclaimed for people through policies that used both carrots and sticks. As expected, the sticks—driving bans during rush hour and enforcement of long-ignored laws prohibiting cars on the sidewalks—drew howls of outrage from a small but powerful group of people, who had always treated sidewalks as their own personal parking lot…

However, the carrots were embraced by almost everyone. The pedestrian streets, greenways and bike trails he created are well used on weekdays by commuters and on evenings and weekends by recreational bikers and walkers out enjoying the Latin custom of a paseo—an evening stroll.

“Economics, urban planning, ecology are only the means. Happiness is the goal,” Peñalosa says, summing up his work. “We have a word in Spanish, ganas, which means a burning desire. I have ganas about public life.”

“The least a democratic society should do,” he continues, “is to offer people wonderful public spaces. Public spaces are not a frivolity. They are just as important as hospitals and schools. They create a sense of belonging. This creates a different type of society—a society where people of all income levels meet in public space is a more integrated, socially healthier one.”