By Ralph Hood
When we look at a distant star, we do not see where that star is now; we see where it used to be. We actually see not the star but the light that traveled to us from the star.
Light travels at the unbelievable speed of 186,000 miles per second! Repeat—light travels 186,000 miles in one second!
That is a hard concept to comprehend. The late, great scientist Admiral Grace Hopper—who often had to explain the speed of light to powerful people—carried around a piece of wire that was 11.8 inches long. She explained that light would travel the length of that wire—almost a foot—in one billionth of a second!
Our Hubble telescope has found and can “see” a galaxy in space that is—hang onto your hat, now—more than 13 billion years into the past! (We have a new telescope—the Webb—that will be launched in 2018.)
Do I understand all of this? No, I certainly do not. Can I explain it? No, I cannot; I can’t even comprehend it. I write about it only because it is so awesome and amazing.
Here’s another fact that I can’t comprehend: We can now see back more than 13 billion light-years, and that puts us within 200 million years of “seeing” the Big Bang! If we can increase that, will we actually see the Big Bang happening?
Holy cow! Can you believe it?
Speaking of holy, some say that this is all bunk, that God built the universe and all that is in it.
I totally agree. God did create it all. Man has never created anything. We’ve reshaped many things, but always using God’s creations.
We have, however, discovered many things about the universe that God created. God allows us to learn about, and use, all of his laws. How wonderful!
Where will all this end? It won’t unless, and until, we know and use all God’s laws and, I think—hope—that that will never happen.
One problem that remains and confuses is that our universe is expanding at an ever-increasing speed. That does not jive with what we know. A bullet comes out of the gun barrel at its fastest speed, then decelerates. Our universe came out of the Big Bang and is still accelerating. I can’t figure that out and am not totally convinced that our scientists have either. I just checked with a friend who is a true scientist. He says the current theory is that the Big Bang is still going on and still accelerating!
I can’t stand it. I lie awake at night wondering about all of this. It’s enough to drive one crazy.
By the way, if all of this doesn’t confuse us, we can always try to understand the speed of gravity!