Counting the Stars, Colorblind Camo & Simple Machines

Episode 17: Just how many stars are there? Do we know how many are in our neighborhood? Can we even measure the size of the universe to make decent guesses? We look at the answers to these questions and wonder at an amazing verse telling us this is no problem for God. Next, we learn a cool fact about a cool animal family: Cephalopods. Then it’s on to the simple machines we rely on every day and explore a little of how God uses them, too.

Hubble Deep Space Galaxies

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StitcherCounting the Stars

We start out by looking at how astronomers calculate how many stars are in our own Milky Way galaxy. Farther out than that and we have enough trouble just counting the number of galaxies!

So what do they tell us about how many are in our own home town?

“And the answer is that we really don’t know. We can make estimates, but there isn’t a firm, solid, 100% answer.” NASA: How Many Stars in the Milky Way?

This article is good at explaining how we make our estimates, with numbers ranging from 100 billion to 400 billion or even higher.

And the rest of the universe?

University of California, Santa Barabara has an interesting set of answers to this question. The first scientist is quite confident of their number: 1 with 21 zeros behind. The next shows you how they arrive at that answer and the 3rd says…

“The number is probably infinite, but we can’t see them all because light travels at a finite speed,…”

Of course, their presuppositions of great age for the universe are showing, but this thought of stars being too far away for us to ever see is fascinating. Our verse for the week makes this seem all the more likely:

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:4

Not only does God not have to guess how many stars there are, seen or unseen, he is smart and infinite enough to give them each a name.

We have the International Astronomical Union to keep track of the names of everything we find in outer space. But often, all an unexciting star or object gets is a series of numbers and letters.

Somehow I don’t think that’s what God does with his names for them!

Colorblind Camo Artists

There are some great longer videos of cuttlefish and octopi using their camouflage, but this one is great amateur footage in a couple minutes (no words, just light rock music background):

We first got interested in cuttlefish and how the whole family of Cephalopods pull off such amazing shape-shifting and color changes by listening to this podcast:

Brains On: Cuttlefish, the Ultimate Shapeshifters

Not too long, great descriptions, and we especially loved that episode’s Mystery Sound!

CMI-Cats Magazine Cover

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I was reminded of how much we enjoyed the show when the current issue of Creation Ministries International’s Creation Magazine had a mini update on how they do it.

You can check out the article they cite here:

New Scientist: Octopus has automatic camouflage thanks to its light-sensing skin

You can get updates like these for your own family by subscribing to the Creation Magazine through my affiliate link. It doesn’t cost you any more and helps me pay the website bills!

Simple Machines

The show closes out with a report on these highly useful means of getting work done. What was extra fun was figuring out how and why God uses these same ideas in the natural world.

  • Find out the basics about them at MIKIDS.com
  • Try out the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry’s Simple Machines Game
  • There are a bunch of short videos at the teachers’ site NeoK12

Particularly interesting for wheels (not too many creatures get around using them) was remembering a spider that made the news back in 2014:

National Geographic did an article on the robot inspired by these arachnids including a short video showing how they roll down sand dunes without getting fried by the heat. The spider doesn’t use an axle, but the robot copy sure did!

I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. Proverbs 8:12