I’m back and bewildered again about astrophysics. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) discovered six massive galaxies that date back 500-700 million years after the Big Bang.
I’ve never taken a class in astrophysics, but I do know the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago. Therefore, as a novice astrophysicist, discovering these galaxies means I grasp that we were seeing the universe 13 billion years ago. I was amazed.
CNN’s Don Lemon attempted to grasp it also. Lemon and I are both novices. Look at his expression as he learns about the early creation of the universe. He was bewildered as I was with what JWST presented to us, along with many million other neophytes.
Joel Leja, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, said, “These objects are way more massive than anyone expected. We expected only to find tiny, young, baby galaxies at this point in time, but we’ve discovered galaxies as mature as our own in what was previously understood to be the dawn of the universe.”
This drawing provides a visual idea of what has occurred since the Big Bang. JWST discovered the six galaxies in the blue area of the diagram called The Dark Age. The scientific mindset didn’t believe much existed until astrophysicists discovered the half-dozen galaxies. Leja admitted, “It turns out we found something so unexpected it actually creates problems for science. It calls the whole picture of early galaxy formation into question.”
JWST views the universe via infrared light. They discovered more than they imagined. Additionally, the universe developed much faster than anyone thought possible. These are the newly discovered galaxies.
So, what are my two takeaways as astrophysicists rewrite the early formation of the galaxies? I’m mesmerized by the countless photos taken by JWST. This is my Rorschach Inkblot ideas.
My other takeaway is the question, so what? We see the vastness of the universe from its very earliest development. Thirty years ago, Carl Sagan wrote a book entitled Pale Blue Dot. Earth is an inconsequential dot within the Milky Way. If we think we are important in the grand scheme of things, even on Earth, we are delusional.
The Milky Way is 100,000 light years in diameter, which seems rather large. However, the elliptical galaxy M87 is ten times larger, coming in at 980,000 light-years across. The galaxy Hercules A is a massive 1.5 million light-years in diameter.
Listen to Sagan teaching us about our place in the universe.
This is my confusion. I feel dwarfed when I look into the night skies. I’m nothing in the grand scheme of things. So, what motivates me? What drives? The answer is this poem in my baby book.
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
That sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength in building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old grey head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
I am building a bridge to assist Ti Ti in getting her college education where I teach in the States. She will live in my home, which has access to electricity and the Internet for more than a couple hours a day.
Read Ti Ti’s final that she took for the online that I taught last fall. She took the class at her home near Inle Lake, Myanmar.
If Ti Ti’s family can get diversity visas, the entire family will live in my home. I have a purpose for my being on this pale blue dot in the vastness of the universe.
What’s your reason for being? Don’t waste your time on the pale blue dot.