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Star myths PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Star myths

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The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars, the high mass ones among them went unstable in their later years they collapsed and then exploded scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas cloud that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems stars with orbiting planets, and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small because they’re small and the Universe is big – but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant you want to feel like a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive…

-Neil DeGrasse Tyson


People across the world, past and present, believe in a connection between humans and the stars. We see images in the stars, of famous warriors, of regal queens, of hunter and prey. We see ourselves in the stars, we see the greats in the heavens. That serves one of John Campbell's mythic functions of inspiring awe. It is hard not to be amazed at the night sky, especially by the pictures that NASA has taken. Awe in the face of the stars is universal. One of the prettiest inhabitants of the night sky, the Aurora Borealis, has many myths associated with it, that it is maids dancing, as in Norway, or that it is the energy of those who have passed on. When it appeared in the sky people were supposed to act respectfully, enforcing social order (that the young look to the old, veneration of ancestors). That particular Aurora Borealis myth is very similar to the one found in the Lion King, (I couldn't for the life of my find where they drew that belief from.) when Mufasa tells his son to "Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. They will always be there to guide you... and so will I." 

Today we understand where stars come from, we understand how the Aurora Borealis is formed, but that does not take the awe and mythic function the stars play in our lives. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains it so eloquently, that the most astounding fact about the universe is that we are quite literally stardust. For him that belief is so powerful that it transcends scientific proof to pragmatic proof. His belief affects his outlook on life, guides his thinking, places him in the universe. As we learn more about the stars, the myth of a connection between us and the stars does not become less true, but rather gains a more literal meaning that can be taken to a mythic level. 

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