NASA telescopes’ imagery released this last week is visually stunning, technologically mind-blowing and spiritually, well, how can it not evoke questions of a religious, philosophical or scientific manner.
The images are beautiful and reveal a universe which far exceeds the human eye’s capacity to see it. From our new vantage point, the majesty and scale of the unfolding events are truly eye-opening. Not because of telescoping distance, but because of revealing spectrum and radio amplitude.
Galaxies moving at more than two million kilometres an hour. Black holes devouring entire solar systems. Thermonuclear explosions powerful enough to kill stars. Boy, things are rough out there in the ebony void! Granted, some of the rougher stuff is happening two quadrillion kilometres away. But this sort of data is important to scientists, to better understand the neighborhood in which we live. Why is it important, when we have so much to deal with here on Earth? Because it helps to understand minerals, radiation, sustainability, even efficient crop rotation, that’s why. A complete list would take up this entire website.
But away from pure science. The likes of the James Webb telescope have provided us with a front row seat of the universe. The late Carl Sagan hosted a TV show forty years ago called Cosmos. That other astrophysics genius, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has since revived the show. I write of this because they have both managed to convey a sense of wonder about our participation in the dynamics of the universe. And I particularly like Professor Sagan’s definition of wonder – being the spiritual embrace you feel when the unknown is revealed to you.
For me, when I saw NASA telescopes’ imagery last week, my mind and heart drifted away from the uncertainties of the times and became embraced by that sense of wonder. And try as the world might, my good mood still hasn’t been shaken out of me.
I hope that some of you feel the same.
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