The Infinite, The Universe & The Void

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“Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.” 
― Ptolemy

The Sky

Our first stargazer, Anaximander, was  born in 611 B.C, in the city of our friend, Thales of Miletus.  You may recall the Thales argued that the prime substance was water.  He was also known for his distinguished works in physics, philosophy, geometry and astronomy.  But perhaps his greatest achievement was that he was the teacher and mentor of the man who is now recognized as the founder of modern astronomy.

Imagine living in Anaximander’s community where everyone assumed the world was flat, supported in the vastness of space by pillars, situated in a tent-like universe, with stars equidistant from the earth, wedged around the edges. Then consider our intrepid stargazer, Anaximander, who argued that the world had “depth,” was suspended freely, that the stars, moon and sun were not only at different distances, but also cycled around our three-dimensional earth.  Anaximander gave us the theory of the infinite, the topographical universe and the void between the stars.

Anaximander gave astronomy a quantum leap, the genesis of the Western concept of the universe.   We know that he was held is great esteem by those who came after, in particular Aristotle, who considered him more as a philosopher rather than a scientist. Perhaps science and philosophy are not that different after all.

“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” 
Carl Sagan, Cosmos

31 thoughts on “The Infinite, The Universe & The Void

  1. I am pleased to meet Anaximander and to be reacquainted with Carl Sagan. Science and philosophy must go hand in hand.

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    • I was thinking of your “hand in hand” comment when I came across a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson that add to our discussion. “My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.”

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      • I am with you on the “unsettled” part. It is when I get past being “unsettled” that I feel good about everything. Except with Neil – he thinks “unsettled” should be a perpetual state…. AAGHH

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      • It usually is a perpetual state. I just get nicely settled, or so I think, and along comes something to tip me on my ears 🙂 AAGH indeed.

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  2. Hi Rebecca

    We are all products of our time aren’t we and it always amazes me how in each generation there are those great minds that are able to make the quantum leap and drag all of us with them until the unimaginable becomes the common place.

    As you have said before, we truly stand on the shoulders of giants!

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    • Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts. I agree – there are those individuals who are able to see beyond recognized boundaries. Sometimes it is the simple moments of reflection that gives us a deeper understanding.

      “If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”
      ― Georgia O’Keeffe

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  3. Its hard to imagine a time when Man first looked up at the universe and wondered about his place in it, yet we still have so much to learn.

    What is it and why is it, were did it come from and were is it going ?

    Great post Rebecca keep them coming, I feel this is a very good direction for you . 🙂

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    • Thank you for your support and encouragement, Nigel. Much appreciated. As I move into the last, most profound stage of my life, I find myself looking into the distant past. In our busy lives we must concentrate on the now, the immediate. Yet, we must remember the stories, the myths, the legends as well as the great deeds that were accomplished. We live forward, but our direction comes from the past…

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      • I don’t think yours or anyone’s age is that important Rebecca. I think your age adds up to your life’s experiences and they are telling you that its time to look and find out more to explore more and to learn as much as you can…

        In that alone you have won many of life’s battle’s your mind is still free, open and alive!

        Keep going Rebecca this is brilliant!

        Nigel

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      • Thank you so much for adding your wisdom to this discussion. I am finding that an open mind allows more insight and banishes fear of the unknown. As we age, we may worry that our contribution will diminish or that we will not be a full participant. I agree with you – age adds,rather than subtracts…

        Your presence and comments are very much appreciated….

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  4. It reminds me when I was young, I used to go up to the hill top at night with no light on clear skies. I was pretending as a stargazer. lying on the grass which stretched over the hill, watching the sky with the stars glittering so colorful. Dreaming that I could probably explore the universe, among the galaxies and its constellations out there there.

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    • I got goosebumps when I read your comments. You remind me up Ptolemy, one of this week’s stargazer. You are very much like him….

      “I know that I am mortal and the creature of a day; but when I search out the massed wheeling circles of the stars, my feet no longer touch the earth, but, side by side with Zeus himself, I take my fill of ambrosia, the food of the gods.” Ptolemy (100 – 178)

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      • Ah what so astonishing. Thank you so much for quoting his chapters. you can probably imagine when I could see the stars in different colors and sizes scattered all over the sky, my soul traveled together with my eyes into the forth dimensional world then ended at shining sky behind a range of the mountain at the other side.

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      • How wonderfully said!! Last night, my son was telling me about the known dimensions that go beyond time and space. There is so much more to discover. Let’s keep watching the stars. Who knows what worlds await our arrival…

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  5. Interesting that human eyes have looked upward. In many ways they understood the heavens better than the earth on which their feet trod Great post, Lady Budd.

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    • I agree and so does Neil…

      “Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us.”
      ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

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    • Emily – you are a stargazer and, with your remarkable creative abilities, anything is possible…

      “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”
      ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

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