Thursday, August 16, 2012

The voice in the whirlwind

I loved this computer-generated fly-through of the universe that was the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) recently. Click the llnk to take the tour. It begins by soaring through a large nearby cluster of galaxies, then circles the universe at about 2 billion light-years from Earth. Every "snowflake" you see is an actual galaxy, part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

A snowstorm of galaxies. Every galaxy with upwards of hundreds of billions of stars. Stars with planets. How many stars in a typical galaxy? As many stars as there are grains of salt in 10,000 one pound boxes of salt.

In every snowflake!

I'm not sure most folks appreciate just what sort of universe we live in. I'm not sure I grasp it myself. And this just the universe as we presently conceive it, as we presently observe it empirically.

I could make the usual comments here, about the hubris of those who think they know when and how it all came to be, who (yes, who) made it and why, how he (yes, he) pays particular attention to me (yes, me), and so on. But no need to. The snowstorm speaks for itself, in a language we are painstakingly learning to understand, the voice of the hidden, unknowable God.