Astronomy usually sounds like a neat topic to get involved until one hits the math part of the subject matter. Then eyes glaze over, ears seem to go muffled, and the senses go numb. There’s really only so much excitement one can generate over figuring out the size of a distant planet by ratio math and utilizing angle measurements and arc distances. In fact, some of the basic math involved in astronomy actually causes some people to have negative physical reactions (except for Physics geeks, of course).
In reality, however, understanding the basics of Astronomy as well as its major concepts will be a major advantage, especially for young people looking forward to the next 50 years. Whether they are content writers or business managers or physicists, astronomy will continue to influence how their industries operate into the near future. Why? In a nutshell, the earth is getting a bit too crowded. Out of necessity humankind will need to start looking outward for resources and space. This, in turn, will drive industries to look outward, beyond our planet, to find the resources and opportunities they need to function. To work, write, and communicate in these industries folks will need to understand more about natural science than ever before.
- Every 11 years, the Sun sees a massive increase in sun spots, signaling the risk of major coronal mass ejections (CME), essentially sun material blown out into space. A CME in our modern world is a serious risk. If the CME hits Earth’s magnetic shield with the wrong polarity, our planet will see a serious blast of energy that could fry most computers, cellphones, electrical appliances, utility grids, and more. Understanding the need for this protection and our increasing reliance on electronics means understanding astronomy and the nature of the Sun to explain it to people and businesses.
- The amount of minerals on the planet Earth in terms of metals, rare substances, rock, and more are likely to be concentrated in most asteroids. While these resources on Earth are entirely spread out, their concentration in a single asteroid makes nearby space-harvesting a viable goal for big business. To understand how to make that business happen, an understanding of astronomy is critical for anyone involved.
- Finding oxygen and water, the two critical elements of life as we know it, are easy in space. In most cases, it’s frozen ice on a planet or asteroid. Because fuel (hydrogen) can be produced from simply breaking up water at the molecular level, the idea of distant space travel and exploration is no longer a Hollywood movie. Imagine space-type train stations at small moons or asteroids with plenty of ice nearby and a processing plant to create air, water, and combustible fuel. Again, astronomy makes transportation possible outside Earth, and folks understanding its principles will likely be the ones on the “train.”
Astronomy is going to move from being an obscure science to being an everyday basic knowledge over this century. Even writers will need to understand the concept because the topic’s influence will affect everyone eventually.
Tom L is a late bloomer to astronomy studies, but young enough to realize what the future will hold for his kids in terms of possibilities.