Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The blazing night sky

Sometimes in places like Kansas, or the Mojave desert, one is not distracted by the razzle-dazzle of nature that seems to fascinate and occupy so many, but to the point, last night flat-on-my-back on the desert sand and staring straight up, I attempted to visualize what exactly is taking place above (and all around) my head. I suppose because I have two sensors in my skull that react to photons, the conundrum of "wave-particle" light got me to thinking. And forgive me for my most un-astronomy-like description of what my mind began to imagine. First off, I've always been puzzled by the description of emptiness in space, the "vacuum" in space, the vast nothingness between the floating stuff here and there. And darkness? We look up into the night sky and between the twinkling stars we think we view blackness, emptiness. But wait! It is all an illusion! Because the two light sensors in my head are my point-of-view, I cannot conclude that the dark places are really dark. For every star sends its wave-particle photons out, out in "every direction" and the "light" of each star is like a "continuously expanding" sphere, ever growing larger, a luminous sphere that continues to grow! And "behind" each expanding sphere is another, and another, and infinite anothers (so long as the star's thermonuclear fusion continues). And me, a single "point-of-view" can travel anywhere in the universe and "catch" some photons from that star. That star's photons (and every other star) are everywhere! Think of a zillion stars, each sending outward an infinitely expanding sphere, and these spheres of photons covering the universe, and nowhere dwells a place where photons are not whizzing by -- so light is everywhere! Human eyes, telescopes, are all single points-of-views. So they catch only an infinitely small "piece of the ever expanding sphere" of starlight. If that star is 10 light-years away, then if someone dwelled 10 light-years on the other side of that star, or 20 light-years from me, that being would also be catching photons from that exact same star. And a zillion beings in a zillion different places in the universe would all catch photons from that exact same star. So, last night for the first time I imagined that the darkness of space is just a grand illusion, and the sky is ablaze with light, light everywhere. My mind told me so, even when my eyes tell me not.


Lloyd Mintern said...

Nice piece. CS Lewis' science fiction trilogy, beginning with Out of the Silent Planet, has a spectacular and also convincing evocation of this same thought: that the universe is obviously ablaze with light. His travellers to Venus witness it.

Bro. Bartleby said...

Thanks, I just ordered it.
Br. B