Accelerating Expansion.

I know I’ve been absent from the blog for a while. Other writing projects have kept me busy and lab has heated up quite a bit as well. I’m back and going to try and write more about science, rather than my own brain (fascinating though that is for everyone, I’m sure). I will continue to write about my brain and my journey from depression to productive, optimistic and expressive person. It will just be intermixed with scientific stories I find interesting.

 Accelerating Expansion

 NPR hosts a Cosmos and Culture blog, 13.7. I don’t read it nearly often enough, but it presents some philosophical issues about living in the universe.

I read Alan Henry’s post on Lifehacker this week about stepping out of your comfort zone, which is something I’ve written about before. For some reason, the idea of the expanding universe and expanding one’s comfort zone leapt into my head.

As nature seems to work and as much as we live in an ‘ideal’ universe, life (that is, in the human sense of the word, not strict biological definition) should ideally follow that track as well. I know that Neil deGrasse Tyson is fond of saying that the universe is trying to kill us; it is an unwelcoming, unforgiving place- also filled with stupid design….’putting a pleasure palace right next to the sewage outlet’ as he has said.

However, the universe is expanding in an accelerating fashion, pushing itself apart, in a sense pushing its comfort zone.

I would like my life to be more like the universe. Accelerating expansion. Creating a bigger world every day. Learning new things each day. Working on a molecular and grand scale.

I don’t know if that’s too idealistic- and it is certainly anthropomorphizing nature (which scientists must be careful about), but I’d like to think that it’s one more connection I have- we all have- to the universe. Not only am I made of star stuff, perhaps in some way I can behave like it as well; changing over time, moving onto fusing helium when my hydrogen supply runs low.

Was the original symmetry-breaking event (my basic understanding of how the universe started) a risky proposition? Was the result of the present universe inevitable when that happened? That’s not even the point, in some ways. Something new was attempted. How’d it go? Well, it resulted in at least one curious species wanting to know how it all works and sitting in awe at the scale and composition of it all while trying to survive and thrive.

So the next time I’m doing something that pushes my limits, I’m going to think of it as communing with the universe. I’ll be attending a conference in 11 days. There will be multiple opportunities to push my comfort zone, I’m sure. And I’m trying to do new things every day that push my notion of what my limits are, while returning to where I’m comfortable regularly.

My friend Johnna just wrote a blog post about not being a science panda; a scientist who stays in one specialized niche all the time and doesn’t practice to become a kung-fu fighter. I will become an extremely disciplined kung-fu panda scientist, and pushing my comfort zone is one mechanism for doing just that. Though i still feel I have a small comfort zone,  I’m going to start where I am.

Ever on and on.



Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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