Friday, April 20, 2012
Above is one of the latest from Hubble. (It gets bigger when you click on it.) My cosmologist friend knows more about what we're looking at than I do, but I know this much: it's spectacular. If the word "awesome" has any meaning left, it should apply only to things like this. Our minds can't contain, let alone fully comprehend it. Amazing as it is, this picture is like trying to understand a desert by looking at a grain of sand.
And here's another thing: the light from these images has traveled for billions of years. We know this. It's measurable; there's no other way to explain it. To look at this picture and still believe the universe is six thousand years old is not only to be willfully ignorant, it's to lose the opportunity for inspiration and wonder -- at what is, at how we know it, and how much more there is to know. All you need of gratitude and joy of being here is in that picture.
Guy I went to college with was one of the astronauts who did the first fix on Hubble, floating out there in space, making one of humankind's greatest achievements closer to perfect. Haven't seen him since college. Can't imagine what it must have been like to be him at that moment. How did his heart not burst? (Other than the pressurized suit, I mean.)