It was one of those idyllic late summer nights. The start of school was just around the corner but before the visions of bookbags and notebooks danced in our heads, we made a trip to the lake with my brother and his family.
While the kids were tucked away in bed, the adults sat outside listening to the crickets and tree frogs. I tilted my head back. Just look at those stars, I marveled.
My brother studied the sky, pointed over my head and asked, Is that the Big Dipper?
We all stared at the stars, trying to make sense of the shapes that the ancients found in their patterns.
Less than a week later, I was sitting in UNCG's planetarium, watching the stars swing through their seasonal dance. August. September. October. They spun and twirled through the simulated sky.
Here it is, said Dr. Steve Danford, using a laser light to point to Cassiopeia, which looked like a sideways W. He explained how to find the Big Dipper and Little Dipper from there.
Sitting in that darkened room, eyes adjusting to the pinpoints of light, I had a couple of thoughts. Mostly, I was thinking, This is so cool. Stars even planetarium stars give me the sensation of timelessness. Vastness. Power. All that space and pattern and mythology tied together. Nothing makes me feel as grounded as looking up.
My second thought lay somewhere along the lines of, I love my job. If you're a curious soul who loves to know the whys and wherefores, what could be better than working on a college campus? If I have a question, chances are, we have an expert who can answer it. Everywhere on campus, people are exploring their areas of passion. Need to be reassured that someone is working on killing cancer cells? Talk to Dr. Nick Oberlies in chemistry and biochemistry. Need to know about genetic counseling? We have a whole department devoted to that. Want a historical perspective on working women? Talk to Dr. Lisa Levenstein in history.
The list goes on and on. And the best thing about being around university people is that they're excited to talk about their areas of expertise. This is a place where knowledge is treasured and shared.
We thought it would be fun to share some of that knowledge with you. Let's face it just because college might be a distant memory doesn't mean the desire to learn ever goes away.
We want this to be information you can use in your daily life. The segments you see in the Life 101 feature are just five to get us started. The list is potentially endless. And as you can see, it doesn't have to be serious. Painting up, anyone?
Do you have any how to items you’d like to see in future issues? I'd love to hear from you. Drop me an email or write me a letter.
In the meantime, be sure to go outside on one of these crisp fall evenings and look up at the stars. Use Dr. Steve Danford's directions for locating familiar constellations. And marvel at the powerful intersection of knowledge and beauty.
Beth English '07 MALS, Editor