I have read with some amusement the ongoing debates on the qualifications of the commissioner for fish and game.
As the New Year started off with a bang of fireworks that lit up some sections of our northern sky, I will throw out a question to debate:
From a professional science perspective: is it appropriate to ask for a person's understanding of distance and time, as it relates to the scienctific knowledge of the speed of light, the distance light travels, and how that relates to the scientific knowledge of the size and age of the sun, the earth, the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, the other billion plus galaxies, and the Universe in general?
The speed of light: approximately 186,282 miles per second.
It takes reflected sunlight from the Moon to the Earth about 1.25 seconds.
It takes sunlight about 499 seconds to travel from the Sun to the Earth, a distance known as one astronomical unit.
Light travels about 6 trillion miles in one year (6,000,000,000,000 miles).
One light year (ly) is equivalent to 6 trillion miles.
2 ly is the maximum extent of the sun's gravitational dominance - beyond that is the true interstellar medium.
4.22 ly is the distance to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the sun.
8.6 ly is the distance to Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.
20 ly is the distance to Giliese 581g, the first discovered candidate for habitable planet.
310 ly is the distance to Canopus, the second brightest star in the night sky.
26,000 ly is the distance to the center of the Milky Way galaxy, our galaxy that the sun and earth reside within.
100,000 ly is the distance across the Milky Way galaxy, and has between 200 to 400 billion stars.
165,000 ly is the distance to R136a1, located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the most luminous star known at 8,700,000 time the luminousity of the sun.
2,500,000 ly is the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy, which is visible in the night sky.
3,000,000 ly is the distance to the Triangulum Galaxy, the most distant object visible to the naked eye.
59,000,000 ly is the distance to the Virgo Cluster, the nearest large galaxy cluster.
250,000,000 ly is the distance to the Great Attractor, a gravity anomaly in intergalactic space within the range of the Centaurus Supercluster that reveals the existence of a localised concentration of mass equivalent to tens of thousands of Milky Ways, observable by its effect on the motion of galaxies and their associated clusters over a region of hundreds of millions of light years across.
1,200,000,000 ly is the distance to the Sloan Great Wall, a giant wall of galaxies (a galactic filament) and, as of 2010, is the largest known structure in the Universe. It measures 1,370,000,000 ly across, or about 1,370 times larger than the Milky Way galaxy.
2,400,000,000 ly is the distance to 3C 273, optically the brightest quasar to date in the Universe.
300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 is the most current estimate of the number of stars in the Universe.
13,750,000,000 years is the approximate age of the Universe since the Big Bang.
4,540,000,000 years is the approximate age of the earth, a first generation planet, and the sun, a second generation star, both of which were created after the first generation star in this region of the Universe exploded at the end of its star cycle.
The above statements are generally recognized by professional scientists as statements of fact, based on our best available knowledge to date.
Is it OK to ask a Commissioner, who heads a department that is based on the tenets of science as one of its core foundations, if there are any personal or professional issues with the current state of scientific understanding of the above statements?
If it is OK to follow that line of questioning, is there any response that would be fatal to a Commissioner being able to run a department that has science as a pillar of its foundation?