More on the "Why?"

It has long been my theory that the entirety of what makes us human can be summarized in the question "Why?". "Why?" is the root of all exploration, all curiosity, it drives us ever further into the depths of this mystery we call existence. "Why?" is the vehicle of our mental evolution, and it is that evolution which has separated us from all other life forms on this planet.

"Why?", of course, is the foundation of religion - why is the sky dark? Why is there fire? Why do some stars move in one pattern, and all the rest in another? On and on. At first, of course, our ability to answer these questions was lacking - so we came up with stories, and hence the creation of the Gods, and all the attendant dogma that has since followed (dogma being the antithesis of "Why?").

Anywho! All that for this - I should have been more thorough in my last post! Above is the sun at Winter Solstice nearer the equator - you can see the color changes in the color of the Sun as it rises and sets.

Here's a similar picture of the moon:
Cut due to incorrectness!
And here's a pic of precisely why the moon/sun on the horizon is redder on the horizon - more atmosphere to see through.

One can imagine how our ancient ancestors might have explained the appearance of a red moon: MORE BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GODS!!!

We are still very much shedding our collective consciousness of these and other ancient superstitions - thus the importance in science advocacy. 

Finally, and apropos of these dark times (the Solstice approaches!), here's the Winter Solstice from Fairbanks Alaska:
Given the angle, the sun in high latitudes will appear bigger and redder on average all winter long. No blood gods required.


Elwood Foreclift said...

The bigger moon on the horizon has even more to the way we perceive things. On the horizon, we see trees and buildings and landforms which give us some scale to compare the Moon to. Against a huge, dark sky, there isn't much to use as a reference and the Moon appears smaller in this immensity.

Redshirt said...

You are correct, and I will update my post to add your comments - I wonder what has the bigger effect than on making the moon seem large - the distorting effects of the increased atmosphere, or simple tricks of perspective? Can that even be measured?

Thanks for the comment!

Elwood Foreclift said...

I'd say it's the perspective, much more so than any atmospheric conditions. I believe you're suggesting that the atmosphere acts as a sort of magnifying glass, actually increasing the size of the circle of light we see when we look at the Moon. You can test this in one night by "measuring" the size of the Moon on the horizon -- say, with your thumb -- and then a few hours later when it's higher in the sky, try again. It will be precisely the same size. You can also take photographs and compare, but no cheating with that zoom lens! (When I have enough spare time to do more than comment on your blog, I'll try to take some photos and write a post for an example.)

Redshirt said...

You are correct! I have changed the post to remove references to the size-distorting effects of the atmosphere. Thanks for the info. I'm trying to recall where I read this before, and in my research, learned this was the predominant theory in the past, only to be corrected recently by your theory.

Science marches on! I actually love this principle of science - truth is only as good as current evidence. New facts must cause you to revisit your conclusions.

As here. Thanks again.

And hang around! I appreciate any and all additional corrections. :)

Elwood Foreclift said...

"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." - Carl Sagan

Redshirt said...

Amen Brutha! Since you dropped a Sagan quote on me (one of my favorite guys ever), I'll return the favor, regarding a certain little blue dot:

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

Trevor Hulette said...

here is a link to a FB page I made... I very much appreciate your site and have a theory of mans evolution in accordance with gamma radiation from the Sun please have a look if you have a chance and any feedback or crtiqueing is much appreciated... I live to learn and though it is a theory of mine I do not just accept it as fact and am always open to new interpretation Thank you for your time and your page...

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