Who Knew?

Future 30 Meter Telescope credit:  www.ctvnews.ca

Future 30 Meter Telescope To Be Built Atop Mauna Kea
credit: http://www.ctvnews.ca

Astronomy is the purest of science that I can think of.  Shown above is an artist’s rendition of what is to be, at least briefly, the world’s largest telescope in Hawaii.  It has a segmented mirror system and will be 9 times more powerful than anything before it.  It gives me hope for our species that despite all our failings, we have somehow found the will to spend a billion dollars just to seek the meaning of it all.

I have just seen a marvelous video clip on astronomy that I’d like to share with you. It shows in beautiful motion something that would have been unimaginable only one lifetime ago, the structure of the universe and how it moves.  Words fail me, but the clip says it all.

It was only 85 years ago that Edwin Hubble postulated his Hubble constant and confirmed that the universe was expanding, but at that time no one dreamed that space was anywhere as vast as we now know it is.  At that time it was thought that the Milky Way constituted all the stars and that nebulae were clouds of gas, not other galaxies and systems of galaxies.  Now we know, not only of those galaxies but that clusters of them have structure.  This is only 4 beautiful minutes long.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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12 Responses to Who Knew?

  1. Jim Wheeler says:

    Dear readers,

    I am at a loss as to why the YouTube embed code seems not to be working. In the interim, here is the link.


  2. Jeff Little says:

    It worked for me.

    Interesting. We have assumed that if matter was below a certain threshold, it would expand forever, whereas if it was above a certain threshold, it would collapse in another big bang. This video makes it clear that we can collapse at thresholds that would cause infinite expansion assuming uniform distribution of matter.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      @ Jeff,

      Before I posted this I looked at the preview version and everything was fine, but when I posted it the clip didn’t appear. This had never happened before. I panicked a little and added the comment link. It took me about 10 minutes to search for suggestions and find what worked. Turns out I needed to “unlink” the embed. Who knew?

      From what I know, which isn’t a lot, I rather doubt that any kind of local collapse of galaxies could initiate another big bang. The two structures shown in the clip are not the whole deal, just our corner of the universe. Mind-boggling. I’ll be interested to see what the cosmologists think of it.


  3. Jim in IA says:

    Very interesting. The graphics and visuals today are amazing. We can see things and effects to help grasp concepts that only a few dreamed of years ago. Computing power is a great tool.

    I wonder what resides in the heart of the Great Attractor. It must be a growing accumulation of mass and dark matter. Someday we might know more.

    Thanks Jim. I enjoyed that.

    I had no trouble with the youtube link.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      @ Jim in IA,

      Glad you liked it. I knew you would. Amazing, isn’t it? This is a brand new perspective, made of older knowledge, the accumulation of untold careful measurements and calculations, but the compilation of it is, I submit, a work of art, a fundamental perspective hidden until now.


  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Fascinating …. simply fascinating. The wonders of the universe, including its complexity, causes anyone sensible person to stand in awe. Thanks for sharing this fascinating video and bit of info … and for adding to my fascination and appreciation of this creation.


    • aFrankAngle says:

      PS: … and to those who see creation in a narrow view, you are missing a great deal.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      It’s a pleasure to know of your appreciation for this, Frank. As I told Jim in IA, this kind of distillation of measurement and knowledge thrills me and it’s great to know I’m not alone in it.


      • aFrankAngle says:

        I also like at it from a spiritual sense, thus wondering how the Christian fundamentalists can give God so little credit.


        • Jim Wheeler says:

          I also like at it from a spiritual sense, thus wondering how the Christian fundamentalists can give God so little credit.

          I understand your point, Frank. There is structure and symmetry in all of nature, from the spiral strands of DNA to the orbits of planets to the whorls of galaxies, so how can this be unplanned? It is the same conundrum addressed by Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker. Something had to come first, even before the big bang. That you can’t get something out of nothing seems indisputable, but that raises the seeming impossibility of an infinity of universes.

          I’m working on this. Will let you know if there’s progress. 😉


  5. Archon's Den says:

    I need to stop in here more often. That video was just awe-inspiring. Thanx! 😀


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