Distinguished astronomy professor Christopher Impey of the University of Arizona gave a talk May 15 titled “Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Biology.”
Impey used Monty Python clips, scientific analyses of Pink Floyd lyrics, Bill Nye clips, The Beatles “Yellow Submarine,” and much more to convey his point. Impey is a strong proponent of the Big Bang theory, reiterating that it was fairly sound at this point and that it was something “all scientists had to agree upon because it has the ability to bind all the sciences together.”
“There is a fear that kids will be faced with not learning the proper facts,” Impey said. Solid evidence behind the Big Bang theory is the expansion of the universe as measured by galaxies moving farther away, the abundance of helium in the universe, and that there is no other explanation for the microwaves leftover.
Impey has published two astronomy textbooks, “The Universe Revealed” and “Astronomy: The Cosmic Journey.” He has also written over 160 research papers on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, and has had 21 projects approved with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Impey was born in England, grew up in Manhattan, and completed his B.A. at the Imperial College in London, and had additional schooling in Edinburgh and Hawaii.11 Amazing Facts
About the Universe
1. The universe was once the size of an atomic nucleus.
2. The universe is made up of 73 percent dark energy, 23 percent cold dark matter, and four percent solid matter. The small four percent is what we usually think of in terms of planets and the material that comprises stars and asteroids. In total, 96 percent of the universe is governed by dark matter.
3. We can understand the universe all the way back to a fraction of a second after the Big Bang occurred.
4. The expansion of the universe was so fast it was faster than the speed of light.
5. There are 60 billion galaxies in the visible universe, not accounting for the part of the universe that is beyond our reach. Each galaxy contains around 100 billion stars, leading to the conclusion that there are more than 1,000 trillion stars in the universe.
6. The universe is one-fourth helium. Carbon, the basis for life on earth, is vastly more rare than helium or hydrogen.
7. If carbon did not have a particular nuclear resonance there would be no life in the universe.
8. The center of a giant star is made of iron that is 100 times denser than water.
9. Gold atoms were forged from dying stars billion of years ago.
10. It takes 50 million years for dust bunny-sized material in space to form a planet.
11. Life may not need a star at all. Scientists have found life deep within the ocean vents where there is no light from the sun. Basically life may not need a star, but it may not be the intelligent life we search for.