From Jill Tarter on NPR
It’s sad that astronomers and physicists have to say repeatedly when being interviewed for a lay audience that we are made of stars. Shouldn’t everyone understand this? Am I the only one who thinks astronomy should be taught in high school? I think studying astronomy teaches at least four very important lessons:
- Scale. Most people don’t understand very big and very small numbers. This ought to be taught at an early age. There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. There are 1022 and 1024 stars (10 sextillion and 1 septillion stars) in the observable universe. The dense plasma at 1 second after the Big Bang had a temperature of 10 billion degrees Kelvin. The total mass of the visible universe is somewhere near 3.14×1024 . The observable universe has many more lessons on scale.
- A Universe from Nothing. I’m inclined to think that if we don’t graduate high school students with a scientific viewpoint (as opposed to a supernatural/religious one), then many, if not most, will never learn. Only about 27% of Americans finish a B.A. degree or higher.
- Geometry. What is a 3-manifold? I think with reduction, students will eventually learn.
- Inspiration. I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t inspired when thinking about the origin and end of our universe. And don’t even get me started on the multiverse.