This world is a magical place. It is filled with wonder and beauty. In many ways, it seems like modern scientists try their best to make us believe that the universe is dry, mechanical, and sterile. Yet, many of the things that they find are truly marvelous and mysterious. So, in that light, here are 10 magical things about the natural world that are often presented in a boring way.
1) The Big Bang
If we are talking about magical and mysterious things, it seems logical to begin at the beginning. Scientists are pretty confident that the entire observable universe comes from something infinitesimally tiny approximately 13.8 billion years ago. While we often learn about this in dry, technical language, it is truly wondrous to contemplate. What makes this even more mysterious is that no one knows what caused the Big Bang. There are lots of speculations and theories, but that is all they are.
Another interesting thing is that for those of us old enough to remember analog television, the static that we would sometimes get was actually residue from the Big Bang!
2) The Speed of Light
Light is an important concept on a spiritual level, but on a purely physical level, light is incredibly magical and mysterious as well. In our science classes in school, most of us have learned about the equation E=mc2. We also learn that this has something to do with the fact that the speed of light is the absolute speed limit of the universe. It is also fairly common knowledge that the closer to the speed of light we get, the slower we age.
Yet, take a moment to think about this and what this means. To begin with, it means that when we see the stars, we are actually seeing them as they were in the past. The further away the stars are from us, the deeper into the past we are looking. For example, it is now thought that the North Star Polaris is about 323 light-years away from us. This means that what we see is the star as it was 323 years ago. The furthest single star that we can see with the naked eye is Cassiopeia, which is 16,308 light-years away, and on a dark night, we can see the Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2.5 million light-years away.
As amazing as it is that we can see 2.5 million years into the past without even needing a telescope, there is something about this that is even more magical. The closer we get to the speed of light, the slower time gets, but at the speed of light, time stops altogether. So, from the perspective of the light beam that started 2.5 million light years away, the trip to Earth was instantaneous.
Intuitively, we all know that rainbows are magical. Yet, our science classes teach us that they are “just” light that has been bent and separated into separate colors by going through the water in the air, which acts as a prism.
When you look beyond the boring explanation and stop to think about it, this means that all white light has the colors of the rainbow in it, just waiting to be seen. That is pretty wondrous and mysterious.
Life itself is extremely magic and mysterious. While scientists believe that life came from some primordial soup by chemical processes, they really have no idea how or why that happened. Actually, scientists do not even fully understand what life is!
What is truly fascinating is how abundant and resilient life is, at least here on this planet. There is life in every nook and cranny on the Earth, even in the most hostile of environments. There are organisms that live in ice, volcanic springs, areas flooded with radiation, and any other environment that you can imagine.
Also, it is now believed that life began on Earth almost as soon as it was fully formed!
It is now believed that all of the elements that make up our Solar System, our planet, and even our bodies come from the residue of stars that exploded at the end of their life cycles. This means that we are quite literally made out of stardust.
Gravity is one of the most mysterious forces in the universe. It is what holds us to the ground, keeps us orbiting around the Sun, and keeps the Moon orbiting around us. Yet, no one really knows what it is. The mechanics of gravity have been well known for a few centuries now, or at least the mechanics when things are not too big, too small, or too close to the Sun.
According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, gravity occurs because somehow objects bend spacetime by their mere existence. Even this, however, merely explains the mechanics of how it works. It does not explain what it is or where it came from.
Yet, without gravity, we could not exist.
Almost everyone knows that no two snowflakes are alike. It is such common knowledge, in fact, that it is easy to forget just how magical and wondrous that this is. Even if it snows so much that it accumulates to 12 feet or more, each tiny snowflake in that pile is absolutely unique.
Flowers are truly amazing. They are so beautiful and diverse. Yet, what is the purpose of their beauty? It is said that it is to attract bees and insects to pollinate them. However, bees and insects are just as happy with soda in the garbage. In the Deanist/Filianist tradition, flowers are said to be love letters from Dea.
Geodes are truly amazing. Plain on the outside, and magnificent on the inside, they are full of magic and wonder. Also, just like snowflakes, there are no two geodes that are exactly alike.
For every circle in the world, if you multiply the diameter by the mysterious, irrational number π, you will get the circumference. If you multiply π by the radius squared, you will get the area. π is also used in calculating the volume and the surface area of a sphere. Spheres are ubiquitous in the universe, by the way. The reason that there are so many spheres is due to gravity. Apparently, any object large enough will eventually turn into a sphere.