Why are People so Obsessed with Space?

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow.
@national.science.foundation

It’s a genuine question, no? As someone (like I’ve mentioned before) who isn’t all that fanatic about the moon and stars and planets, and well, space, it’s hard for me to grasp the crazed excitement some people feel. Until now.

I suppose it’s the whole mystery of space that doesn’t excite me. Or should I say, it overwhelms me in such a way, I find it incomprehensible for me to begin to understand it. I’m an avid learner, but for some reason, outer space seems like it would suck up all my time. The pun was intended there, because today, for the first time in history, humans have taken a picture of a black hole.

That’s the fuzzy image you see above. Kind of boring right? Well, watch this video if you want to be able to grasp the sheer size and distance of what we’re talking about here.

So why does this interest me and space in general doesn’t? I have no idea yet. It’s almost finals week for me at school, so my life is the only thing I’m concerned about. Sounds stupid and conceited, I know. The world revolves around each student at college during finals. Everything that happens to me in the next couple of weeks is either a success or detriment. There is practically no gray area (wow I’m killing it today). When I was reading a few articles about this black hole today, I started to get this overwhelmed feeling.

I’m the kind of person that wants to know everything about a topic. If there’s a hyperlink in an article, I click it. Which typically leads me to another article within another hyperlink, leading me to another and another and another. You get the picture. So when I set out to learn about a subject (yes, I understand there are way too many things above my level of humble knowledge to truly know everything about a topic) I’m in it for the long haul.

When I say space overwhelms me, it’s the one topic I’ve avoided for years because I know how incredibly expansive it is (figuratively and literally, Sydney). It’s a foolish reason not to research something, but I just want to do it justice. For example, this black hole scientists took a picture of today, is so large that it’s almost the size of our entire universe. Now, because I don’t know a lot about space, I can’t even comprehend that. People who know a lot about space can barely do it.

It makes you feel so incredibly small and useless at times. Which is maybe why people are so fascinated by space. My finals week is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. And yet, they could also shape the rest of my life pretty dramatically. I’m not even trying to exaggerate here. This doesn’t mean I can blow everything off because “in a couple of years I’ll be gone and nothing will matter.” Why not? I’m gonna pull the classic parent move here and just say, “Because I said so.”

The fascination the world has expressed over this black hole news today just goes to show you how little we know. But that’s not a bad thing in my eyes. If you want to somewhat understand what this image is really showing us, here’s a good comprehensive video. Have a wonderful time getting sucked into (sorry, I’ done) all of the content of this stuff.

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