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Location: TUCSON, Arizona, United States

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nietzsche's News...

The year I finished high school in Southern California, astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) died. Yes, the "Hubble" space-telescope is named after him. His working life was spent at Mt Wilson observatory in Pasadena, where he began his observations in 1919. In 1925 he published his discovery, made in the winter of 1922-1923, that comparisons of light-sources to "Cepheid variables" (look it up) proved there were thousands of galaxies outside the circumference of our own so-called "Milky Way" galaxies. Think of it. The first news that the Milky Way was not the "universe" arrived just ten years before I was born. And few believed it. Five years later, in fateful 1929, Hubble proved--this time using the principle of Doppler "redshift"--that all those galaxies were moving away from one another at millions of miles per second. This is the discovery that led to the "big bang" theory: not only does the universe consist of trillions of stars and galaxies, but they all originated somehow from a single "point". Even fewer were prepared to believe this. Nevertheless, both discoveries have become the established basis for our current science. And all this has happened virtually in my lifetime. No wonder so many people--the ignorant and the credulous--are still frightened and outraged by the fact that the entire fabric of religious cosmology has been destroyed. That's right; the source of much of the "anger" so widely chronicled is the well-founded fear that everything humans have believed--have wanted to believe--for thousands of years is false. There was an origin, but no creation; there will be an end, but no salvation. Personally, I've always experienced discovery and change as thrilling. But I'm not in the majority...


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