Rendered Fat Content


NASA on July 11, 2022,
released the first full-color image
from the James Webb Space Telescope.
(NASA/AFP/Getty Images)

The new image is what is known as a “deep field” observation, with the telescope staring at what NASA called a “patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson as quoted in the July 12, 2022 Washington Post

"Would that our native sense of self-importance were not expanding faster than our universe."

The James Webb Space Telescope might be the largest rear view mirror ever produced. Capable of reflecting thirteen billion year old light, it provides formerly unattainable resolution. It represents just a next step, but one doozy of a step. In my lifetime, infinity has undergone multiple radical expansions, from the planetary outward, every few years, a deeper penetration became possible, and with each further immersion, the scale of my own existence, my problems, fell from the all-consuming into the infinitesimal. If the above image reveals what's visible out there through a grain of sand-sized lens, I understand in a new way just how incomprehensible this universe must be, by which I mean, that it's clear that I understand nothing at all about anything.

I consider this reset necessary and important, for without periodic refreshers on the scale we're actually dealing with, people can and do become subsumed with self-importance.
My hill of beans might genuinely appear superior and significant to my eyes, and I might grown stingy and overly possessive of my great wealth, and lose sight that it only amounts to a hill off beans. We seem to need to remind ourselves that we're still capable of genuine awe, like when John Glenn first orbited this planet and us Earth-bound schmucks could only jealously gaze up in wonder. Or when Neil Armstrong took a step on the moon and through the marvels of modern technology, we could watch the unimaginably far away event on television. We landed a rover on Mars, too, an achievement roughly equivalent to producing a Broadway musical on a grain of sand and receiving a standing ovation. The marvels have never ceased during my short lifespan, which I admit has been next to nothing when compared with what our latest rear view mirror displays. (I could swear that those objects appear much closer than they apparently are.)

The wonder seems necessary. Never satisfied, we soon become bored with our accomplishments, our achievements. We seem to need some additional space to grow into, territory for our knowledge to further expand, for knowing seems a jealous property, always demanding more. It needs another puzzler to solve, another mystery to resolve, another skill to master, for mastery never was a static thing, but a moving target. Our universe expands and our understanding seems to need to expand at a similar rate for us to stay connected. We go crazy when denied our manifesting destiny. My great grandparents went West. We head every direction on the compass, voraciously exceeding all known boundaries. Even understanding from the last decade seems unbearably primitive today. Today's will certainly seem embarrassingly naive and backward tomorrow, or perhaps by the day after, but probably no longer.

My universe this morning ranges in a twenty by eight by four foot orthotope, a right regular prism box, my scaffolding. Within and immediately surrounding it, fresh mysteries proliferate such that they draw my focus for endless hours. Almost infinite universes surround my local all-consuming one. It's not turtles, but infinities all around in every direction, at present unknown and unknowable in extent. One day, and not a day far distant, much of the mystery will very likely be sucked out of even this latest FreshInfinity. Those sand grain-sized lenses will have been configured to produce a real time, constantly monitored 360 degree observation tower. Every object will have been named, classified, and categorized, analyzed into finite pieces, and we will once again be forced to embark on another search for a replacement FreshInfinity.

The ancients would have predicted a few decades of peace and prosperity as humanity set about rendering the FreshInfinity into finite understanding, but us moderns do not subscribe to such superstitions, for we have grown accustomed to FreshInfinities. We see them as our birthright. We take them for granted. We have blunted our ability to deeply wonder, to genuinely ponder after our place in this ever-expanding universe. Would that our native sense of self-importance were not expanding faster than our universe.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver