One up one down

FTLComm -Tisdale - Sunday, October 20, 2002
The range of our thinking seems so much to be directly related to what we do. For the hockey player the world extends only a few feet up beyond the boards into the stands and for the truck driver it is the ribbon of pavement on which he runs his rig. My world is even smaller as it is the realm of the images and text on the screens in front of me and therefore it is good to gaze out into the sky above and see the connection between these eyes focused on a computer screen and the nearest star and orbiting planetoid that we know as the moon.

Right at this time of the year, our little old star is hustling along its path on some invisible orbit within the galaxy It is a minor insignificant star with nine or so planets and about in the middle of its life span.

Earth is an even more insignificant planet, an "M" class planet positioned at the median of the other planets that circle its star "Sole" and has just passed the mid point of its annual orbit around the moving star. That star of ours averages about 93,000,000 miles away from us and is the source of all the life on this planet. Just a little more heat and the atmosphere would melt most things and just a tiny bit colder and plant life would cease to exist with it all other forms of life.

The moon was sitting just on the horizon last night as the rotation of the earth swept the last rays of the sun away in the West.

The moon is a large object ,just small enough to have less than the required amount of gravitation energy to retain gases on its surface, so it is a lifeless body without atmosphere and it keeps on average, about 213,000 miles away from us. It is just close enough to have its gravity lay hold of the water that sloshes around in what we call oceans and its gravity causes the surface of the oceans to rise with it, in what we call "Tides". With the sun on one side and the moon on the other, the greatest variation in tide levels are experience under these conditions.
The local flock of geese are still hanging around as we see them on their way in from supper as they head back toward the lagoon North of town. They are believed to measure the amount of light each day and when it hits a specific reduced amount, instead of staying here they will turn their formation around and head South until the light from the sun tells them it is once again time to head North. The mystery of their navigation has been one that has troubled behavioural scientists for a long time. The whole brain of a goose is just a little larger than a sugar cube so we suspect that they do not have the memory and processing power to remember their route visually.

The latest indications are that geese and other birds use a far more sophisticated navigation system based on magnetic fields. The earth has a powerful magnetic force field around it produced by the rotation of the metals within the planet. This magnetic field is polarised so that there is a North and South magnetic pole. Birds have the sensing capability to detect this magnetic field and this gives them enough data to conduct even what would be considered instrument flight. Where this really gets interesting is that magnetic fields vary on the planet's surface and the birds might even be sensitive enough to be able to use these small variations as a form of contour map that helps them find their way with extreme levels of accuracy.

The low temperatures yesterday and last night have not allowed the snow to disappear giving the 6:00 PM view of our neighbourhood a definite winter look.

Now having lifted ones eyes from the screen and gazed out into the immediate 93,000,000 mile vicinity the day to day trivia of life seems a little more confusing. Our lives and the lives of all people seem to be enclosed in mysterious envelops, one over the other, in layers of reality that both confine and refine our behaviour, but while all that happens, try not to lose sight of the bigger picture, all you have to do is look up.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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