Saturday, February 11, 2006

The silence -- Part 2

As I calculate it, it would take 16 million Hubble Ultra Deep Field Photographs to cover the entire celestial sphere. At 10,000 galaxies per photograph, we are talking 160 billion galaxies that the same application of technology might potentially reveal.

What I find most astonishing is that a big bus-sized telescope floating in space can be precisely pointed at such a tiny part of the sky during 400 orbits of the Earth. Makes me proud to be part of a species that can pull off such a feat -- a species that includes everyone from the chief project designer to the machinist who cuts widget no. 35, 347.

Having taken aboard a universe of 160 billion galaxies, how would I answer the BIG questions?

Who am I? With Whitman I say: I am the journey-work of stars.

Where did I come from? I am the product of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution.

Why am I here? The universe is silent. Each of us must decide for oneself. Some of us choose to take our answer from popes, televangelists, ayatollahs, or holy books. For myself: I am here to pay attention and to celebrate what I see.

And I didn't need the Hubble Ultra Deep Field Photograph to come to these conclusions. With Whitman: "...the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren..."