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Understanding Relationships in Our Solar System

Updated: Jun 3, 2020


Back in the day when I was brave enough to enter a science classroom to teach 7th and 8th graders, it was clear to me that they had little concept about the size of the Universe, and certainly even less of a concept of the relationships and size of our Solar System. Most pictures of the planets of our Solar System (whether or not we decide to include poor Pluto after its unceremonious downgrade) reveal the relationships of the planets to the sun in a very non-scientific pattern. In fact, the video link below will take you to one of the more fascinating projects of some young folks who decided to create a model of the Solar System in 7 miles of desert; as importantly, in order to create the appropriate model of our Solar System in 7 miles of desert, the Earth ends up being the size of a marble.




Indeed, we are on a marble floating in an amazing Universe and no matter how we think we got here, the fact is that we are here! There is no doubt that the problems we face on a daily basis are not quite as phenomenally large as we may think they are, given the structure of our own solar system and Planet Earth.


Through my own experiences in teaching young folks science, and in working now with people of all ages in our own rural emergency room, there is a common theme. We tend to create problems where they don't need to exist through our own inability to view those problems in a more scalar manner. I have found that relaxing is a hard thing to do. Look at the issues we face and how we create our problems.


Our own technologies have become our own instruments of our demise; we cannot seem to wrest our cell phones, iPads, computers, televisions, Roku, Apple Watches, etc... from our own hands for more than 20 minutes without feverishly looking for answers in them. We Google our questions as if the Magic 8 Ball of Humanity is going to eventually answer the real meaning of life for us. All of this while we ignore our own natural surroundings, and interrupt our sleep patterns through unnatural computer lighting that "ramps us up" right before we try to go to sleep. Our FitBits are counting whether or not we received quality sleep and whether we received enough of it. Our Apple Watches us wake us up in order to allow us the ability to awaken for another day of exhaustive day-to-day-living!


 

“The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time


 

So my challenge for you, and certainly my challenge for my science students in 7th and 8th grade was this: Turn off Technology. Off.


Try it, challenge yourself, challenge others and look at what happens. It may make you a little nauseous at first, or you may feel uncomfortable in having to actually hold a conversation with your loved ones. You may find time to read an actual book with pages, or you may find the time to take a walk in the woods.


As technology screams at us to take action, we feel more helpless about not being able to take the action that we would like. It becomes a vicious cycle of a feeling of ineptitude, a feeling that we cannot even change ourselves. Take a careful inventory of what you watched on YouTube for the last several nights, and look closely within your own Universe. Ask this question: "Could I have done without it?"


Thus, make the Solar System video your last one for the day. Then, take the challenge for yourself by doing some deep breathing, careful review of your day, and relaxation away from the issues of the day that are making you anxious and all-too-aware. My own life has changed through less use of technology, and careful inventories of what I decide to watch on television and on my computer. Interestingly, it has made my problems a little bit smaller, and the Solar System a little more interesting; it's nice to be awestruck in a positive way.


You can do this! It's worth a try. What do you have to lose? Take a technology holiday and just...enjoy....the space and place in which we live without stressing about all of the negative dialogue and overall negativity that exists in our world.


You will be better for it. And so will others in your life.

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