Thursday, April 13, 2006

Stuff I Think About

I personally think that one of the most fascinating and inspiring things that man has ever accomplished was the launch, repair, and finally the use of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In this world of wars and rumors of wars, voices screaming at the top of their lungs, and plain ol' confusion, it's nice to be able to simply do something that causes my mind to expand and embrace wonder.

As a Christian, I can read my bible. Pray. Meditate on God's awesomeness and be inspired and energized. For me that's big league stuff. But on a different level, I can sometimes be blown away by a sunset, or a cute kid giggling in the grocery store. (I know. Kids are usually screaming in the grocery store. Just go with me here, ok?)

And in that vein of more earthly things that can thrill me, I really like scientific stuff. The Hubble Telescope is the pinnacle (pronounced pea-knuckle) of scientific effort in my book.

And man, the photos from Hubble have been spectacular, haven't they? Beautiful and awesome things out in the universe that we had never seen. Many of it's photos have become famous, but my favorite is one that is not visually that spectacular.

In 1995 Hubble was pointed to a 'keyhole' part of the sky that was, from our perspective, very dark. It was an attempt to see past the closer stuff out into the universe as far as it could see. These photos are called the Deep Field Images. What will amaze you, if you'll enlarge the photo below and just look at it for a couple of minutes, is that almost all of the lights in the photo are GALAXIES. There are individual stars, but what never fails to blow my mind is how this photo of a tiny part of the sky, looking almost to the edge of the visible universe, is the astounding number of galaxies. Hundreds of Milky Ways in one tiny section of sky.
How many lives are on planets out there? At what point in time were these galaxies existing when the light captured by Hubble left them? A billion years ago? Two billion for some?

The universe is so big. It's just SO much to try to take in.

Astronaut Joe Tanner
In the photo to the left, of one of the shuttle missions to repair the Hubble Telescope, you can see a man's arms reaching down from the end of the mechanical arm, near the center of the photo.

This is astronaut Joe Tanner. My daughters got to meet him when he came to their school a number of years ago. And five years ago I got to go watch a night launch, from the VIP area at Kennedy Space Center, of a shuttle mission with Mr. Tanner on it, and it was one of those great memories I'll take to my grave. (STS-97, Nov. 30, 2000)

It's all neato and peachy keen, but those Hubble deep field images never fail to fill me with awe and wonder at this universe.

There IS some justice in the world!

It's about dang time!

Just trying to keep it reah, and represent, here on the Least Significant Bits blog...

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