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Paul A Duginski
Paul A Duginski
Paul Duginski is a political cartoonist and veteran newspaper staff artist. He enjoys reading history, literature and going bodyboarding whenever he has time.
 

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Posted in Politics / Elections / National

Denier in Chief

Aug. 22, 2017 3:07 am
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This morning I used the camera obscura or pinhole image method of observing the eclipse. That means, since I hadn’t bought eclipse glasses, I used a pushpin to punch a hole in a piece of sketchbook paper, and used that to project an image of the eclipse on another sheet of sketchbook paper. In Southern California we saw only a partial eclipse, but part of the show was the surreal, pale light and the strange, windless cool conditions caused by a lack of solar radiation.

An eclipse can’t be beaten for making one feel insignificant in the overall scheme of things. In ancient times, an eclipse was a source of wonder and a cause for fear — an indication that perhaps the gods were angry.

In Mark Twain’s 1889 novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” an engineer named Hank is taken back in time to the Middle Ages, and remembers an eclipse in time to save himself from being burned at the stake. He appears to make good on a threat to blot out the sun, dodges execution and has the royal court eating out of his hand thereafter.

Contemplation of the cosmic proportions of the event is hard to escape. According to one science website that I visited, our immense solar system compared with the size of our Milky Way galaxy would be like the size of a quarter lying beside the road in Kansas, compared with a circle of real estate that would stretch from northern Minnesota to Houston, and from central Colorado to West Virginia. Our sun, as large as it is, would, proportionally, be a mere speck the size of a bacteria in this huge circle. So our solar system would be the equivalent of a coin compared with a huge circle taking up much of the midsection of the continental United States.

The Milky Way is not even an especially large galaxy — others are much bigger — and it is estimated that there are at least 100 billion to as many as 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. So the universe is essentially infinite.

Try to wrap your mind around that!

I believe it, though, because science tells us it is true. And, frankly, it only reinforces my belief in an infinite God.

But I can’t personally take the measure of the Milky Way, for example, because I’m mortal and don’t have the 100,000 light years it would take to travel across the diameter of our galaxy.

Today, Donald and Melania Trump, along with their son Barron, watched the eclipse from the White House’s Truman Balcony. They used special eclipse glasses to protect their eyes — so the president does accept some science. We don’t know if he still believes that the Earth is flat and that the sun and moon revolve around our planet, but we do know that he rejects global climate science.

As with the size of our galaxy or the number of galaxies in the universe, he can’t go out and personally verify their dimensions. So, like the rest of us, he has to accept what astronomers and other experts tell us. The same goes for climate change. Just because you haven’t personally seen the polar ice caps melting or sea level rising doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe that it is happening.

I’m endlessly curious, so seeing a partial eclipse made me hunger for more knowledge about our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. I did a little reading, which is what I do when something interests me. It’s hard for me to accept that some people don’t want to know the truth about the world we live in.

Trump looked skyward from his vantage overlooking the south lawn today and briefly took in the spectacle, then seemed to quickly lose interest, as is his wont. I imagined him dismissing the spectacular celestial show as a hoax by the Chinese.

 
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