The universe came to us

The universe came to us

Infrared light rays escaped from a newly formed galaxy about 13,100,000,000 years ago. The universe was young, gravity still brought together stars and gases, heavy atoms were not yet formed in abundance – but there was enough hydrogen to form helium, and fusion was already at work. In this young galaxy young stars were moving, sending light across the spectrum, and into every part of this tiny, tiny universe. They are absorbed in all directions, so there is nothing about this particular flow of photons. But as the stream flowed, over the course of the vacuum, for most of its journey, it encountered, most of it nothing.

But often nothing. Vacuums are incomprehensible, but not the law of numbers. Every once in a while – every 10 million or 50 million years, let’s say the light from this first galaxy passes the scale of a “close” galaxy to other galaxies. Some of these other galaxies were still born; some Were already separated. Many were in the early stages of their lives. Given in directions, meaning that some of their light is sent in a general way like rays from a large galaxy.This stream of photons travels, not together, but more or less parallel.They are specifically directed towards nothing Was going.

Some time passed.

Then, about 4.6 billion years ago, these rays passed close to a cluster of galaxies that the future life form would call SMAC 0723 for convenience. The cluster was large and heavy. So heavy, in fact, that its gravity will act on the photons as they go along; Even traveling 186,000 miles per second (both “miles” and “seconds” are measures similarly created by the form of future life to help measure the universe) was not so fast as to attract gravity. Prevent untiring attraction. It was light Take out Towards the galaxy, it changes its course. But it was still too fast and too far from the SMAC 0723 that was delayed. It continues through the darkness, its path now describing not a line but an arc.

Its new destination was still very disappointing: an impure spiral of gases in the inner arm of the obscure spiral galaxy that has the shape of a future life, compared to the name that produced “SMAC 0723”, The milk path is called. , Among other things. But 4.6 billion years is a long time; Maybe with the arrival of light, there will be something.

And so, at the appointed time, the light came. Until now these were many photon streams, thousands upon thousands of points of light from each of the thousands of galaxies, each separated from the others by millions or billions of years and more years. But their light was together. And in this light the path was a certain point. The location of this point was one million miles from an invisible blue planet orbiting an invisible original sequence star. The size of this particular patch was almost a grain of sand from a nearby planet as seen from about a yard away. And the light hit something there, and the rest went away. And this light was:

Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.

This microscopic field of light, which has a recent history of the universe, is the first deep field of the web, the first image released from the James Webb Space Telescope. This is the first of many photos that the telescope will produce, but you should never forget your first. Your first you forget, though: cold and beautiful, empty and full, this piece of sky is a picture of a time travel that travels in the vastness of the universe with space for everything and nothing for nothing. We – you, me, we, This– We don’t care.

This knowledge, for me, encourages two emotions, proportionately opposite but not something in conflict with each other. The first feeling is this – well, this word does not exist, because these words are formed by an initial poverty that has no real scale of things, or their place in it. But some words get closer to things. Fear? Terror? Love? Oh my god

How about: Knowledge. Knowing that our existence is a cosmic round error and that what we cannot or cannot say can never be counted too large to be counted in a universe. If we disappeared tomorrow, or never appeared, it would not be noticeable. I found it depressing and exciting. All our joys and achievements, actively meaningless; But so are our pains and sorrows and many human oppressions. A tiny piece of our sky has so much more (and no doubt) Life) Until we got closer to understanding. Why even try?

Well, because we can. This is the second feeling that JWST photos appear in me: something like pride. If there is no meaning in things, there is still order. And He The order is unknown.

We, the form of the future life, built those primitive bipolar bipods, an unattractive piece of machine to a point of gravity stable in space, and set it in motion, to take pictures along the wavelength that our eyes could not see, and Send it back to us in a way that we can. We did it! We invented (or understood) engineering and physics to do this, and social coherence was essential for its implementation, and philosophy was essential for its interpretation. Nothing else passes or swims around this blue planet. Through the events of chemistry we exist, and through the deviations of evolution we arrive at a moment when we can learn so little about the universe that we will happily ignore it. We don’t know things Now we know a few things. There is success in this, even when the reward is humility. In seeing and recognizing our shortcomings, we create meaning.

The Carina Nebula, a star-forming region, is about 8,500 light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.
Southern Ring Nebula, a dead star about 2,500 light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.
Stephan’s Quintet, a cluster of four galaxies located 210-340 million light-years away, and a very close fifth galaxy at the front, on the left. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI.

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