Cosmos, happiness, flow, the universe


My posts are in the style of journal entries. I’ve started this one with an article you can find here.

{Remember Your Place In The Universe

It’s easy to get caught up in your own problems and forget about the rest of the world. But Carl Sagan’s famous Pale Blue Dot speech reminds us that, no matter how important we might think these problems are, they’re really nothing in the large scheme of things. Sagan says it wonderfully here:

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

Sagan had plenty more to say about this in his books and on Cosmos, and he echoed a similar idea to his daughter too:

“‘You are alive right this second. That is an amazing thing,’ they told me. When you consider the nearly infinite number of forks in the road that lead to any single person being born, they said, you must be grateful that you’re you at this very second. Think of the enormous number of potential alternate universes where, for example, your great-great-grandparents never meet and you never come to be. Moreover, you have the pleasure of living on a planet where you have evolved to breathe the air, drink the water, and love the warmth of the closest star. You’re connected to the generations through DNA — and, even farther back, to the universe, because every cell in your body was cooked in the hearts of stars. We are star stuff, my dad famously said, and he made me feel that way.”}

It’s all the love he had which made him so wonderful to me.

{Diversify Your Knowledge

It’s easy to get stuck in a single field, then spend all your time thinking about it.}

That’s not really the case for me. I get tired and bored of any subject if I stay with it for too long, and I like switching from one project to another.


Here’s episode 1 of the series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage:




noun: quasar; plural noun: quasars

a massive and extremely remote celestial object, emitting exceptionally large amounts of energy, and typically having a starlike image in a telescope. It has been suggested that quasars contain massive black holes and may represent a stage in the evolution of some galaxies.”

The cosmos is immensely vast. One has to picture its vastness to really feel that one is lost within infinity. In Cosmos, Sagan facilitates the understanding of all the universe’s space by allowing us to travel in an imaginary ship. Though I knew it was incredibly vast, and this experience shouldn’t have been too new, it allowed me to see things from a different light nonetheless. There are many different perspectives from which one can view one thing, and that one thing appears differently each time. It’s amazing.

The Hercules Cluster consists of around 200 galaxies which are “about 300 light years apart.” This distance is incredible. When it comes to measuring distances in space, we use light years because of light’s incredible speed and the incredible distance it can travel in a year.

“The Local Group is the galaxy group that includes the Milky Way. The Local Group comprises more than 54 galaxies, most of them dwarf galaxies. Its gravitational center is located somewhere between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy.”

Andromeda is the largest galaxy within the Local Group.




noun: pulsar; plural noun: pulsars

a celestial object, thought to be a rapidly rotating neutron star, that emits regular pulses of radio waves and other electromagnetic radiation at rates of up to one thousand pulses per second.”


On that day when I was not allowed to use my computer, I spent it reading physical books. I took notes on paper, and though, the day after, I transferred many of those notes to my blog, I didn’t transfer them all. I was talking about The Eerie Silence and Universe, though now I’ll share information from the latter:

Prominences are huge clouds of electrified gas called plasma.




an ionized gas consisting of positive ions and free electrons in proportions resulting in more or less no overall electric charge, typically at low pressures (as in the upper atmosphere and in fluorescent lamps) or at very high temperatures (as in stars and nuclear fusion reactors).”

Prominences travel the sun’s surface, occasionally erupting and releasing plasma into space. This reminds me of the fact that supernovae explosions are a form in which elements are dispersed around the universe.




a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass.”

The Sun is 8 light minutes away from the Earth, meaning it takes light 8 minutes to travel between these celestial objects. The solar surface has sunspots, which are darker and cooler than other areas on the Sun’s surface.

Some sunspots are larger than Earth! The 4 gas giants in the solar system (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) have rings of dust and ice, though Saturn has the largest ring system.

Because this is a journal post—you were warned—there are personal elements. Since it’s Easter Sunday… wait a second.

*edits site’s tagline*

There. I just declared my site to be my public journal. (Now I don’t feel so guilty about burdening you with personal information)

Since it’s Easter Sunday, and my mom’s Christian, she’ll be going to church soon and expecting me to come with. I’ll have to interrupt my work soon, so I’ll hurriedly share a thought. I was reading this morning about how to be happier. Most of the information I received from that particular article wasn’t surprising: I control my thoughts and have only positive ones. I actually learned in my psychology class that the formula for stress reduction is: perceived control + perceived predictability. Also, I learned that a huge contributor to anxiety about something is negative thoughts. That information has eliminated all of my fear when I have to present before my classes. All I do is stop thinking about the event. Whereas before I obsessively considered different outcomes (what if this happens? What if that happens?!) prior to my presentation, now I focus my attention elsewhere and don’t think about it. Of course, I make sure I’m prepared, but once I am, I don’t overthink it. My presentations are always fine, just like they always were—but I miss out on all that anxiety and stress.

So I don’t really have negative thoughts. But my feelings are a bit harder to control—at least, they always have been. I am getting better at dealing with them, however. Some people are quicker to leap to sadness, others to anger, when they are sad. I’ve always leapt to anger first and that has caused me to damage relationships, others’ happiness, and my own. That is obviously not a good thing. It has caused me to feel hatred, which has not done me, or anyone else, any good. Now, I realize that love is better than hate. When someone I care about (a family member) makes me upset, instead of verbally attacking them like I once would have been keen to do, I let them know what I dislike and withdraw. I’m quicker to release the negativity now. I once held it in, I once thought crying was weak and I wouldn’t allow myself to do it even I was alone. When I’m angry, I want vengeance—yet I know that vengeance is not the answer, and I know that I must let the anger go, so I do. I allow the anger to fade by giving into the sadness and accepting it. Then I move on with my life and forgive. My point is that I do forgive, which is something else that is an important aspect of happiness.

To get to the point, I heard about “flow.” According to the article, it brings immense happiness and satisfaction, and I know because I have been there. Let me show you the part where “flow” was described. I’m not done looking into it, because I want to understand it better so I know how to better tap into it and get the most out of that immersive, desirable experience:

{Happiness Strategy #7: Engage in Meaningful Activities

People are seldom happier, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, than when they’re in the “flow.” This is a state in which your mind becomes thoroughly absorbed in a meaningful task that challenges your abilities. Yet, he has found that the most common leisure time activity — watching TV — produces some of the lowest levels of happiness.

To get more out of life, we need to put more into it, says Csikszentmihalyi. “Active leisure that helps a person grow does not come easily,” he writes in Finding Flow. “Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable.

So it turns out that happiness can be a matter of choice — not just luck. Some people are lucky enough to possess genes that foster happiness. However, certain thought patterns and interpersonal skills definitely help people become an “epicure of experience,” says David Lykken, whose name, in Norwegian, means “the happiness.”}

To read the full article:


I was just interrupted by church, and a family get-together. My dad drove us both home, and along the way I felt pretty talkative. I told him what was going on in my life and what I had done earlier today, and I felt a connection with him. I haven’t in a long time. It was pleasant to talk to him.

I was telling him about flow, and my blog, and my thoughts about happiness. I think what I wanted to tell you about flow is that the when the happiness article said the following, I was reminded of the fact that a few days ago when I started the chemistry post, I did not initially feel compelled to write it. In fact, I wondered if it had any meaning, and doubted myself:

{“Each of the flow-producing activities requires an initial investment of attention before it begins to be enjoyable.}

It was only during my writing it that I entered that state of flow which felt so awesome that I wanted to write every day. In the days since, I forgot that flow was something that appeared after starting, and so when I did not feel compelled to start writing, I thought that there would be no flow found if I did write. Reading that article today made me change my mind, and it’s something very important for me to remember. (That’s why I wrote it down.) So I opened my drawer and took out the notes I took that day when I was punished. I decided to keep writing them down, to test my hypothesis. I thought I would not enjoy it, but I am. The post which focused on the sun—which contained these notes—may not have been very fun to write because I was writing mostly facts, and I prefer journal posts, with opinion and personal fact.

I’ve been encouraging my dad to write his own blog, because I am concerned about him. I care so much about him, and I want him to share his ideas, receive others’ ideas, think constructively and whatnot as I’m sure he already does—but I want him to find more joy in his life, and a deeper sense of purpose. I want him to feel that his contribution in the form of knowledge is positively affecting others, and that his intellectual friendship is appreciated and reciprocated. I know that he doesn’t see the impact of his work, and he says he enjoys electronics, but he doesn’t have anyone to share them with. I don’t know about what he does, and neither do my mom or brother. I want him to feel that it has meaning. I want the spark to flick back on and develop into a stable flame.

I love him dearly, and I want him to feel passion and joy. I hate the fact that from the outside, at least, it doesn’t appear to exist anymore. However, I didn’t want it to end badly—I didn’t want his first blogging experience to suck enough for it to be his last one. So I told him that I didn’t have limits on my blog—it’s not a science blog (not that there’s anything wrong with being more focused!), or a math blog, or whatever—it’s literally a “whatever I want to share” blog. Without those limits, I can spread myself out, sharing about whatever I want to: it can truly be a public journal. Because I can’t stand having those kinds of limits, and I feel like those kinds of limits are more suppressive than anything else. They may serve to guide, and give purpose, but they also limit. For me personally, such focused blogs don’t work. My mom’s an artist and she has blogs solely about art—but that’s not my style, and I don’t want my dad to enter something like that and have it be too repressive—that’s not my goal here.

Anyway. Back to what I was writing about before I was interrupted. Of Jupiter’s 63+ moons, Io is its innermost moon. Io is also one of Jupiter’s 4 largest moons, a group referred to as its Galilean moons. The others are Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede. Jupiter is closer to Earth than Saturn is, being 43 light minutes away, whereas Saturn is 79 light minutes away. Within the solar system, Jupiter is the most massive planet. Its Great Red Spot has been known of since the 17th century, and is a raging storm in Jupiter’s atmosphere which appears to be shrinking.

As shown by this image, the Great Red Spot is currently larger than Earth:

It is believed that 25,000 light years away, in the center of our galaxy, there is a black hole as heavy as 3 million Suns. Another galaxy called Centaurus A (about 13 million light years from our planet) has a bigger black hole than we do.

Centaurus A:

The Whirlpool is another galaxy, and is even further from Earth, about 23 million light years from it:

This is pretty long, so I’ll end the post here. As always, thanks for reading!


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