Physicist Jerry Goldberg presented “A Perspective on Life”, a summary of parts of his book of that name.
He deals with 5 basic questions:
1) Where are we? (solar system, galaxies, etc.)
2) Since when are we here? 13.7 billion years
3) What are we? What are human beings made of?
4) Who are we? Some 50,000 years ago some 1500-5000 people left Africa. The first white people appeared about 8000 years ago.
5) Why are we? Human evolution.
Until about the year 1600 C.E., the earth was considered to be the center of everything. Galileo improved the telescope so that he was able to see the moons revolving around Jupiter, not around the earth. It was only then that the idea arose that the earth might not be at the center of the universe.
In 1927 Henrietta Leavitt discovered the relation between luminosity and the periodicity of stars, a technique that enabled us to determine distance in space. Edwin Hubble built on Leavitt’s discoveries to see another galaxy and to measure distances to it. Jerry showed several slides indicating the comparison of the minuscule size of earth to other planets and then of the size of our sun compared to other stars.
The year 1905 was the miraculous year of the publication of 4 papers by Albert Einstein on Brownian motion (establishing the existence of atoms), the photoelectric effect (light has both wave and particle properties), and the special theory of relativity. Jerry talked about Einstein the person, not the intricacies of the science of these findings.
When time ran out, the club invited Jerry back to continue his presentation on February 28 – stay tuned for Isaac Newton.