I was reading this morning about Galaxy 4C60.07 – a very distant, early galaxy whose light has traveled some 12 billion years (two years post Big Bang).  I’m always fascinated that we’re able to glance into space and see events unfold in the fancy camera work of the universe from long before our earth was even a twinkle in our galaxy’s eye.  This got me thinking about what it means that the information reaching us is billions of years old and how our place in the universe heading away from origin and other objects alters our perceptions of those events.  

Without the science, if we looked into the sky and were able to see the same images, captured by the Spitzer infrared space telescope, it would be easy to assume the events were unfolding in present time.  Of course, our understanding of trajectory and the speed and flexibility of light has resulted in some complicated, but comprehensible measurements which help us define our place in the universe.

 We watch old movies and reminisce about the way things were.  What is it we feel when we look deep into our universal past and see black wholes and white light blobs forming at such a distance from our own existence as not visitable in our own life-times?  We may not reminisce, but perhaps what is captured is something akin to the magic we feel whenever we watch performances by the late screen stars Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire or Betty Davis alive and well on-screen, immortalized on magnetic tape.  Notice the similar movements as we float light as air round a light post in the rain photos recorded in sequence on magnetic tape on a planet spinning around an ancient star spinning in a spiral galaxy among billions of other stars.


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