Posted Jun 22, 2020, by Nick Hood

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As part of our What’s on your mind? blog series, we’re posting mid-month entries by CCJ staff as a way for you to get to know us better. This fourth mid-month staff post is by Community Organizer Nick Hood.

Ever since I was a young boy I can remember being fascinated and awe struck when I thought about the stars and the vastness of space.  I remember doing my 5th grade science project on our solar system (when Pluto was still a planet).  With every nugget of information, my 5th grade brain exploded with thoughts.  “Earth is 93 million miles from the sun!  Hmm, Myrtle Beach, SC, took like half a day to get to, so, what is that, like a million miles?  Holy sh*t, it’s only 600 miles!”  And, yes my 5th grade self used curse words…  I have brothers 10 and 7 years older than me… Blame them! 

As I continue to grow older, new information still perplexes me as I try to wrap my head around all the different theories that are out there.  These perplexions send me on a thought journey through my brain and help me to expand the ways I perceive life and time.  I’ll read something and spend weeks, months and on some occasions even years, trying to digest and fully understand some mechanism or theory.  

Dark matter, supermassive black holes, subatomic particles, the age of the universe, and space and time being bound are all subjects that fascinate me and have boggled my mind for years.  I must admit that sometimes thinking about these things drives me to a point of frustration.  It’s hard to read and think about things and never find a clear answer, because even the top minds on our planet can’t fully figure these things out.  Like, come on smart people.  However, I feel that delving into these subjects is important to help us realize how special life is, and that we should never take our existence for granted. 

Though we have looked for one, we have not found another habitable planet.  However, with pretty solid confidence, I believe that there are plenty of life-sustaining worlds due to the immense vastness and opportunities for life-bearing planets out there in the great expanse.  Currently we’re just not able yet to travel fast enough through space to reach any other planets or solar systems.  Shoot, we barely know of their existence.  Due to this constraint,  we really, really, really need Earth for our survival.  At least until we figure out how to travel at the speed of light or jump space through wormholes.

I hope you all look up at the stars tonight and let your mind wander through all the possibilities.  It helps me remember that I’m human and to pump the brakes a little on the madness. Maybe it will help you too. 

I’ll leave you with some things I’ve watched or read over the years that may be of interest:  

“Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” by Neal deGrasse Tyson

  • I’d call this beginner to intermediate level reading

“The Fabric of the Cosmos” and “The Elegant Universe,” both by Brian Greene

  • These books are quite advanced but the author is great at providing substantive examples.

“A Brief History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking

  • I believe this book is referred to as “The most owned book that was never finished”  

    • I’m one

“The Cosmos” – old school documentary with Carl Sagan and newer televisoin series  with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

  • Both versions of this are very well done and are a good way of learning that doesn’t involve reading.   

“Death Dive to Saturn” – TV documentary (Netflix)

  • This space documentary focuses on the famous 5000 tonnes orbiter and probe Cassini and its 13 years spent exploring and observing Saturn up close, until its final descent into the top cloud of the gaseous planet.

“Blackhole Apocalypse” – TV documentary (Netflix)

  • Neat documentary all about the study of blackholes from the original findings to a freaking finding of 2 colliding black holes!  

“The Universe” – TV series (Netflix)

  • A bunch of different topics and subjects are covered.

  • Very informative and digestible.


  • Nick Hood

    Nick Hood is the Senior Organizer at CCJ. Nick and his family have lived, worked, and recreated in Washington County for their entire lives. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and earned his degree in Environmental Studies. Nick is passionate about the environment and his community, and hopes to see an increase in environmental protection to help ensure the health and well-being of his family, including his 4 nephews and 1 niece. As a part of his goals, he aims to educate and provide the community with the necessary knowledge and tools to combat pollution and corruption perpetuated by the large energy companies. When he is not working, he likes to play music, watch baseball, and spend time with his family and friends. Contact Nick at nick@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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