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  • Writer's picturePatrick Rizio


Above are some recent pictures made by the James Webb Telescope. If you follow such things in the news you'll know that they are pictures of galaxies formed in the very early universe, about 350 million years after the Big Bang. What's particularly interesting about these six galaxies is that they seem to be bigger than they should be. It takes galaxies this large a long time to form. Longer than 350 million years.


Is the universe older than we thought? Possibly. Or is our estimate of the time of the Big Bang correct, leading us to other possible explanations of these images? My gut feeling would be leaning to the second possibility. We seem to have solid evidence regarding the timing of the Big Bang. Maybe we need to learn more about galaxy formation? Or, maybe the images are not fully formed galaxies but gigantic black holes generating energy enough to account for that much light? Or maybe...?

The significant point to all this is that the James Webb Telescope is doing exactly what scientists hoped it would do. Open the door to new, undiscovered knowledge of our world, ie our universe, our reality. The anti science folks who are fond of saying things like "Yesterday the scientists said that and now they are saying this" don't understand that science is a way of thinking whose goal is the pursuit of knowledge. Inherent in the scientific method is a tradition of skepticism, based on the discovery of new evidence. Trying to prove a model of the universe wrong, be it particle physics, biology, mathematics, cosmology, etc, is the bedrock of us moving forward as a species. It's not that Isaac Newton was proven wrong by Einstein. The truth in Newton's model of gravity is still true enough, (we used it to go to the moon). Einstein just had a better model. A model closer to the truth than Newton's. We build on our past efforts.

First one learns the alphabet, then one writes poems.


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