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Space chats with your friendly neighbourhood anthropologist! - Page 2 - Space Engine

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Banana
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08 May 2017 20:30

, I'm glad to find that you found my reply interesting!

I'm not an astrophysicist, though I hope to someday pursue a career in the field. As of now I study the subject in my spare time as a sort of hobby. I have not yet taken any formal courses in this area, so much of my knowledge in astronomy comes from online articles, simulations, and games, and SpaceEngine in particular has allowed me to visualize astronomical phenomena on a close and in-depth scale. It adds a degree of wonder to our already-mesmerizing universe in a way that is difficult to accomplish through text alone. Though I agree textbooks are an integral component to learning, I believe the many resources available online can be used to supplement one's studies and provide a more rounded and interesting experience. 
Bananas are eggcellent.
 
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PlutonianEmpire
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09 May 2017 22:43

Specs: Dell Inspiron 5547 (Laptop); 8 gigabytes of RAM; Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-4210U CPU @ 1.70GHz (4 CPUs), ~2.4GHz; Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 4400 (That's all there is :( )
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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14 May 2017 20:57

Hi Banana,

Thanks for clarifying and expanding on your thoughts, it's really great to get to explore these things in more depth and from multiple people's perspectives. I totally agree with you. I think this element of wonder, awe, and inspiration is so important - this seems to be the feeling that drives many people to commit to study and work in the space field in the first place.

And being able to virtually access and interact with otherwise directly inaccessible ideas and objects is so huge, in terms of thinking and learning. I'm sure that these kinds of games, applications, tools, environments already make such a big difference to people's learning processes, and I'm certainly interested to see how this will develop in future. Actually, before I got into anthropology and social science, I was a medical student, and I often think now about the difference it would have made to studying and learning, if we had been able to work with such sophisticated and interactive visual models, simulations, and environments as people with interests in astronomy can find here with SpaceEngine - they seem like such powerful learning and teaching tools. I wonder what education *could* look like in the next five, ten years. And what it will turn out like, which is of course another question.

Thanks for stopping by and chatting, it's so great to hear your thoughts!
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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14 May 2017 22:03

PlutonianEmpire, great to hear from you! Yeah I know what you mean, the whole set-up is really really cool in that retro cyberpunk kinda way, which feels a bit gimmicky, but I think there must be so many potential applications for this tech that could be really impactful and important. It's fine if you don't have answers, neither do I! Hopefully this is something we can all discover and explore together in future~ Please feel free to stop by, comment, or message anytime if you have any questions, ideas, thoughts or news to share about any of these topics or issues going forward, I sincerely look forward to it!
 
A-L-E-X
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24 May 2017 22:56

Space is something I've been interested in as a little child.  It's all about learning.  I like learning about anything but there is something very pure about space that puts it beyond what we humans have done to our environment here at home.  I am a big astronomy buff like many here so SE is just a natural extension of that.  I find that some of us have a natural mental proclivity for space, theoretical physics, cosmology and such and even think in intuitive ways that make ourselves feel at home with things we cannot directly experience.
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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28 May 2017 01:03

Hi A-L-E-X, thanks for stopping by! Thank you for sharing your story, I really enjoyed hearing it. It seems like many people here and in wider astronomy circles have these moments of inspiration or interest from childhood, that drive them all the way through life. I think it's really interesting that you talk about space as kind of appealing to people with abilities or proclivities for thinking about and with things that can't be directly experienced. Personally I'm really interested in the possibilities of new ways of representing such phenomena, so that they can be accessed by more people, and so that more people can feel at home with them, and work with them intuitively. Maybe things like SE, Kerbal, satellite & ISS livefeeds and space VR will make space, astronomy, astrophysics, and earth affairs too, more accessible to more people? If so, it will be very interesting to see the results! How do you pursue your interest in space, besides SE? Do you have any favourite stories, topics, or projects? How do you follow or pursue them (as in, through what sources, sites, channels)?
 
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29 Aug 2017 19:24

 
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Anthro_Danielle
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30 Aug 2017 02:06

Hi A-L-E-X, it's so lovely to hear from you - thanks for taking the time to reply! I'm not sure if I've seen the specific interview you're referencing, but it does sound like she's describing the overview effect or something like it. It's a very powerful feeling and realisation, and I've certainly encountered many people who work in the space industry and sciences who are motivated by that feeling, and hoping to share it with others. Korean astronaut Soyeon Yi had something really interesting to say about it at a speech she gave earlier in the year - even though on the one hand you have the sense that borders are meaningless, and that we're all in this together on this pale blue dot, from the ISS/space, you can *see* borders/inequality/the effects of them in new and powerful ways (eg. seeing the effects of climate change, and actually seeing the difference between cities/regions with infrastructure and those without, because at nighttime they go dark while other areas, along lines of borders, stay lit-up). It seems like the orbital perspective can be valuable, not just in showing that we're all in this together, but also in showing the ways in which we've been neglecting that knowledge, or at least the gaps and differences in that together-ness.
Regarding your astronomical observations, do you share or communicate what you catalogue, or is it mostly for yourself?
Thanks for the chats!
 
A-L-E-X
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02 Sep 2017 20:39

It's interesting- I had never heard of the Overview effect, but the ideas it embodies, are ones I've had even when I was a child- going back to at least as far as when I was 7 years old.  My interactions are pretty complex, as I'm also a writer and speaker and have interests in many different areas of sciences, and the arts, as well as environmental, antiwar and social activism and lots of traveling to different parts of the world (since I was 2 yrs old.)

I find the users on here extremely fascinating too, never did I imagine that I'd find so many creative souls in one place, people who want to think about what the future might have in store.  I do think humanity needs to become more sustainable if it is to survive for many millenia, and stop choosing short-term instant gratification over long-term goals.  This involves getting away from our violent militaristic side, peaceful co-existence with nature rather than fighting it (which will always be a losing battle- especially our chemical alteration of the environment), and the desire to observe and learn without interfering.  I also find that a key part to sustainability is making sure human beings don't overtax the environment via overpopulation.  Densely packed cities have some of the highest rates of disease (physical and mental) precisely because of unhealthy alterations we've made to the environment, processed fast food, and pollution.  Lifestyle changes are better solutions than medication, which is often just a stopgap.  I'm into such things as sustainable organic farming, using biology rather than chemistry, and learning from how nature does it rather than try to fight it.  That gives us a much more healthy environment that's also more sustainable.  How does all this fit in with astronomy?  The universe is a celestial masterpiece of cosmic proportions and I feel that because we are a part of it, we have the intrinsic ability to learn from it, and what we do to it, we also do to ourselves.
 
A-L-E-X
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02 Sep 2017 20:42

I posted articles elsewhere on here showing the strong connection between light pollution and cancer rates, basically strong light sources influence the release of melatonin.  When the body doesn't receive the proper signal to rest, it can result in cell proliferation that leads to cancer.
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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11 Sep 2017 05:10

A-L-E-X - it sounds as though you must have a pretty rounded set of experiences and perspectives! Personally I tend to think that breadth and variety can be really helpful in approaching any topic with nuance, and I agree with you there - there are lots of really interesting people here with so many different backgrounds and experiences bringing them to one shared interest.

The overlaps between scientific content and information, and representation in realms of communication (eg. advocacy speaking and writing, science communication) and art (games, designs, illustrations, etc.) are so fascinating! I think the ways that different modes of communication and representation (ie., text vs images vs interactive vs digital applications vs dialogue-style vs broadcast style communication etc.) impact the ways we can receive and access information is so interesting - some methods and tools work better for communicating particular kinds of things, some styles of communication work better for building particular kinds of community, etc.

Environmental awareness, and concerns with things like ecosystems, sustainability, and the impacts of human action are really interesting as well when we think about space exploration and science. I think some of the older popular stories reflect ideas of conquest - exploring and conquering outwards, humans mastering the universe, you know? But then we've had to come to terms with some pretty harsh lessons about how well we can actually do that here on Earth, and so I wonder how narratives of human space exploration and settlement will fit with narratives of sustainability, environmentalism, systems thinking, etc. going forward into the future. If we're having to reevaluate much of human actions and impacts globally (at Earth-scale), what might that mean for the kinds of stories driving us beyond-Earth? What are we aiming/hoping for, and what kinds of terms can we use to think about it?

Something interesting about urban living and lights that I hadn't noticed until a botanist pointed it out to me - when trees start to drop their leaves, those trees growing next to streetlights will drop unevenly, and the sides closest to/around the streetlight will stay green and leafy for much longer, because it's normally a decrease in light that will tell them that it's winter and time to sleep, but of course if they're getting light 24/7 no matter what, that seasonal variation isn't happening for parts of the tree. I don't know what that does to their systems over time but it must be a little strange! As I write it it sounds so obvious but I'd never really noticed or seen it until it was pointed out!
 
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jadestar
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23 Sep 2017 11:56

Danielle,

Were you ever on either of Paul Carr's podcasts (The Wow! Signal or The Unseen Podcast)? Your name sounds familiar.  BTW: I told you this in response to your community survey but I'm an astronomy undergrad at the University of Washington who hopes to become an astrobiologist and also a woman so I'm very interested in this thread.
My specs: Gigabyte X99-UD4 - CPU E5-2658V3, RAM 32gb, GPU AMD RX480 8GB VRAM
 
A-L-E-X
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26 Sep 2017 01:16

 
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Anthro_Danielle
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26 Sep 2017 05:23

 
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Anthro_Danielle
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26 Sep 2017 05:44

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