Tuesday, 6 September 2011

These things I know - The Solar System

My friend Ed (his name is like my name!) is hugely enthusiastic about maths and science. I am not. They are subjects which have always largely passed me by, particularly science, the majority of which I find bewilderingly confusing. However, when he tells me about maths and science I always find it interesting and very enjoyable, as interesting and enjoyable as it always is when anyone who is passionate about something tells you about it.

It's times like that when my ability to use my largely fragmented knowledge of stuff and things comes into play. I'm pretty good at holding my own in a conversation about more or less any subject for 10 minutes or so. If bluffing your way through stuff was an Olympic event I'd probably be a captain on A Question of Sport by now. So today I thought I would test myself, sit down and write everything I know about a subject. This falls under the auspices of full disclosure, but also of my heartfelt desire to prove to everyone that I am in fact an idiot.

I have chosen a subject riven with both maths and science (you see how this all links up?): The Solar System. The one what we all live in, apparently.

The creation of the solar system
The solar system was created by something called The Big Bang. No-one knows how this happened. I am no different in this regard. However, what it did do is create all the matter in the universe. Just thinking about this is making my head spin, actually. This is why I never think about science.

Our galaxy
There are many galaxies. We live in one called The Milky Way. There are planets and moons and stuff in it, but the most important thing is our star, which is called the sun. The sun is very important as it provides heat and light and other good things. If the sun stopped working we would all be buggered, so it's best if that did not happen. One day it will happen, which is going to cause some headscratching on Earth, for sure.

The planets
There are 9 planets. Or 8. Or 10. Sometimes people are feeling stingy and sometimes extravagant. When they are feeling extravagant they discover new planets with a big telescope. The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. From Mercury to Saturn, those are definitely in the right order. There is no life on any of the planets except earth, which lives in The Goldilocks Zone. It also has a jaunty tilt off its axis which helps enormously. Mercury and Venus are both very inhospitable and largely made of acid and spikes. Mars is red and may have water on it which is a good thing as far as life is concerned. Jupiter and Saturn are made of gas, which I don't really understand. They both have lots of moons which look amazing. One of Jupiter's moons is called Ganymede, which I like. Saturn has a ring round it. This is made of stuff. Neptune, Uranus and Pluto are also made of gas I think but they are very cold and far away and no-one cares. People have even said Pluto isn't even a proper planet, which is a bit mean.

Other galaxies and stars
There are millions of other galaxies just like ours, each with their own star. The sky is full of stars. You can see them in the sky at night if you don't live in London. They are all like our sun, in various stages of their life-cycle, but further away. In the other galaxies there are other planets orbiting their star. I believe that there is other life in the universe. In fact, I think it is impossible that it wouldn't be the case. The reason why we have never heard from them is the same reason that they've never heard from us: we're all too far away and don't have the technology. I believe that extra-terrestrial life is most likely going to strongly resemble life on earth, because science and evolution should be constants. I would quite like to see an extra-terrestrial dog. They might be a bit taller, or hairier, but they'd still be a dog.

The moon
Like many of the planets, Earth has a satellite. This is called The Moon. Considering that we named all of the planets in the solar system and all of their moons, this is not a very imaginative name. The moon orbits Earth. Its gravity effects the tides. On July 20th 1969, two American blokes landed a spaceship on the moon and dicked about and got some rocks to prove that it wasn't made of cheese. Then they came home. That's pretty impressive when you consider it. Especially if you have any experience of the British railway service.

Gravity
Gravity is the thing that makes people stay on the ground, but not aeroplanes. I do not understand where it comes from or what it is but I am glad it's there, otherwise you'd have to tie all your stuff down and it would cost a fortune in string.

So, there you go. That's what I know about the solar system. You may have learned something. God help you if you did.

1 comment:

Bleep said...

Very good Spacemund, and not just because I get at least two mentions.

Your grasp of space and astrophysics is about as broad as my grasp of football, something that I pretend to have an interest in.

If I were to write everything I know about football it would be as accurate as this, but about football. Obviously.

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