After a long day of work I was fortunate to stumble upon Maryland Public Televisions’ airing of a Nova episode called “Invisible Universe Revealed”. It’s all about the development and difficulty of creating the Hubble Telescope. It goes into great detail about how flawed the Hubble was when it was first lifted into orbit. The program went into fascinating detail about how NASA was able to train astronauts for 20 months to fly to Hubble to fix it. Simply amazing!
After they go through these fascinating details, the NASA scientists go into all of the discoveries that Hubble has provided us with. Hubble had been able to prove theories, verify the existence of black holes, lead to the realization that the Universe is full of Dark Matter, by they way, even these physicists can’t exactly explain what Dark Matter is, And the thing that actually brought a tear to my eye is that they were able to determine approximately how many stars are in the Universe.
One of the NASA smarty pants guys( I think it was one of the Johns Hopkins Hubble guys, go Baltimore!) explained that they pointed Hubble on a very dark area of the Universe; an area seemingly free of a lot of stars and other pretty space stuff. He went on to explain that the area concentrated on by Hubble is the equivalent of you or I looking into the night sky through a drinking straw. Hubble was able to peer into this straw hole and find millions and millions of stars and unless I’m crazy, thousands of GALAXIES!! Are you kidding me??!?
Anyway, many people, myself included, have been presented with information as mind-boggling and awesome as this and have said something to the effect of, “the Universe is so big, we humans are so insignificant, so small” etc. But this time, I realized that we Humans ARE significant. We are incredibly unique. perversely flawed but unique.
If there was just some way that all people, everywhere could just grasp our Human exceptionalism, would we need to harm each other and ourselves as horribly as we do? Would we be so careless and cavalier?