Posts Tagged ‘big bang theory’

Pillow Talk: Space, The Final Frontier

February 19th, 2014 | by Leslie Saunderlin


We’ve all been there… the tossing and turning, a racing mind, a taxing day that leaves us over tired—either way, sleep is not happening. When this happens to me, I turn over in bed and ask Steve with a hopeful inflection “Will you tell mee a stooorry?” His usual reply is a groggy twitch accompanied by a bit of slurred speech: “A story? I don’t know any stories.” 50% of the time, I turn over miffed and resume staring at the ceiling fan. 50% of the time he tells me a childhood story that is funny, but expeditious, leaving me once again, staring at the ceiling fan.

Last night I changed my approach and got subject specific, knowing he wouldn’t be able to resist the bait. The topic: Space, a subject he is extraordinarily well versed. There is not a question he can’t answer, not a lull in facts to be had. A “I don’t know any stories ” quickly became, “Well…what do you want to know?” Jackpot…I found my human ambien.

Although it was meant as a means of distraction, the assumption I had of lulling to sleep over boring space statistics didn’t materialize. My one question led to five more that needed hasty answering, causing me to face a fact about myself: I am a closet space lover. A star gazing, full moon frolicker. A stand in the street at 1am to watch a rocket on it’s way to space kind of lady.
As I think back, it starts to make sense. The styrofoam solar system in grade school that I obsessively shaded and glittered to perfection. My second grade short story assignment about humans roller skating on the luminous rings of Saturn. Even in my twenties I found myself on the Science Museum lawn, hoping for a glimpse of space through a bunch of amateur stargazers homemade telescopes. I should of pieced the puzzle together completely last month when I suggested to Steve we take a star gazing vacation to Sedona.

To me, space is mysterious and complicated. Too large to grasp while simultaneously making me feel too small to matter. If I think about the vapid open black for too long, I start to get anxious and little bit twitchy, needing to ground myself with mossy covered thoughts of earth, reveling in the luxury of oxygen.

If there is one way to explore space, it is through her supernatural visuals of gassy combustive starts and stops. Our conversation topics flipped and flopped between talks of physics and creationism, ideas I felt best suited to represent  through lovely visuals. And what glorious visuals they are.



We started off talking about Voyager I &II. They were both launched into space in 1977 and are both still transmitting information back to earth. They are traveling in the neighborhood of 36,000mph. Steve quantified this by saying that he could get from our front door to his work near Phyllip Morris, in one second.



The formation and death of a star. I am still amazed that the stars we see are very, very old, possibly burned out by the time their light reaches our sight. They begin as small particles of dust and gas, eventually gaining energy and mass over millions of years to become what we see today. They are burning hot, and although their are several types (white dwarf, black dwarf, red giant,) they eventually burn themselves out or explode (supernova). Our sun is a star and we have approximately 4.5 billion years until she expands into a red giant, engulfing the earth.



Any space talk undoubtedly leads to talk about the beginning of the Universe. The Big Bang Theory as we call It. The idea that before this occurrence, 14 million years ago, we have no data to explain time before, a thought I find a bit unsettling. Which leads to our next photo:



Jesus… God.. Divine Universe…and the ideas of Creationism. Being that Steve and I are both rooted in science, we got off some good chuckles on this topic which led to much more interesting conversation about Dinosaurs, Era’s of man and a scoch of Theology.



The Hubble telescope, what a magnificent machine. From comets, to galaxies and planets beyond our solar system, she has produced some amazing images.



Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976


Saturn! Roller skating anyone?


Sombrerro Galaxy, M104, NGC 4594


Comet ISON


Horsehead Nebula, Barnard 33