As my first post, I wanted to share with all of you an idea I had for my first study after graduating from the University of Illinois in May of 2011 with a degree in history. I'm excited to be a member of the forum, and look forward to corresponding with all of you.
Below is the project's description:
Over the course of human history, our daily interaction with the cosmos has had a profound affect both positively and negatively on the condition of our society. The most positive examples are seen throughout history, as ancient civilizations were fascinated by the stars and planets and…with limited known technology, developed an intense knowledge and appreciation for the universe that they could perceive. To modern humans, who have pushed the envelope in terms of “out of this world” pursuits, and have had their names immortalized with their accomplishments. Names like Aldrin and Armstrong, Einstein and Sagan, Copernicus, Kepler and of course Galileo….are synonymous with the history of modern humanity’s quest to know more about the universe.
But there’s more to it then just those big names. What about the times you’ve been blown away when you’ve looked up at the stars. The times when you pulled the car over on a long road trip just to appreciate a dark area in the countryside that gave you a glimpse at the Milky Way…..or a kiss under a shooting star perhaps?
When our view of the cosmos has been plentiful, when we’ve been able to be fascinated by the stars, and really contemplate our place in existence, I believe we are at our best.The negative affect comes when we are disconnected from the cosmos, due to the heavy levels of light pollution in our cities. Over time, the beauty of space is forgotten and ignored. We seem to lose our deeper understanding of the universe, our place within it, and its connection to everyday we do, when we don’t embrace it. I want to change that.
As a writer interested in understanding the history of humanity’s fascination with the universe, I will spend a lot of time researching past civilizations, scientists, and events in the years to come. However, for my first project, I want to focus on the present state of human interaction with the cosmos, and its effect on our own view of our place in everything.
I want to better understand the role space plays in our daily lives. I believe that urbanization has left many of us feeling disconnected and apathetic towards our own place in the universe.
Over the next year, I want to give fifty individuals the opportunity to look through a telescope for the first time, and document their experiences, thoughts, and questions in a detailed study. I will travel all over my home state of Illinois, and within reason out of state, to complete thorough research.
Each individual will be interviewed beforehand, and then the participant will proceed to look through the telescope for however long they are able (and interested) to do so. It could be 10 minutes, it could be 2 hours, whatever the participant and I agree upon will be the time we set aside. After that time, we will re-interview the individual, as they reflect on their experience. The data will be recorded through a mix of audio and visual documentation.
If this project is successful, and it yields a wealth of information and volunteers to participate, I would love to expand the project to include more people into the study if possible.
This project will test my hypothesis that even a brief experience learning more about the universe can alter one’s relationship with the night sky.
I would have just linked you guys to either the sites website, or its fundraising page, but I don't want to be guilty of solicitation in any way, shape, or form. Just wondering what you guys thought about such an idea? I think it would be a great way to really see what the average person thinks about the cosmos......but also......possibly, it will be a chance to observe some of these individuals transform their opinion of the night sky.
I've always loved looking at the night sky, but it doesn't seem like a lot of us take the time to really comprehend what the heck is going on above our heads. There could be a lot of reasons for that, and maybe this project will shed light on that too.
I'm just rambling now, thanks for your interest if you took the time to read this.