“Honor the Universe”

February 28, 2011

I’ve just spent a fascinating thirty minutes looking at the websites for the Hubble and Kepler space telescopes. I was motivated to do this by a radio announcement saying that scientists using the Kepler telescope had discovered a number of planets outside of our solar system – including five earth-sized planets orbiting their suns at a distance where liquid water could exist. Water is integral to life as we know it.

While the scientists using the Kepler telescope are focusing on the discovery of other planets and are looking for signs of life there, the Hubble’s scientists are focusing on something even more fascinating – dark matter and dark energy, a type of mass that can’t be seen but reveals itself by variations in observed data. Their estimate is that only four percent of the mass of the universe is in the type of matter-energy we have on earth. The rest is dark matter and dark energy – and we don’t really know what dark matter and dark energy are.

If you would honor the Universe, take a look at the websites for these two space telescopes. When I do, I find my imagination going in many directions. Could there be planets of dark matter and suns emitting dark energy? Could there be types of intelligence that don’t depend on life as we know it? Could we communicate with this intelligence? Anyone who will take the time to examine the data and theories being developed in twenty-first century astronomy comes away with a sense of mystery, awe and wonder. The forces that have created life on this earth are inherent in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil which gives us our food. Let us honor these forces and learn from them.

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