• Wayfarer
    16.1k
    The successor to the Hubble, this telescope has taken 20 years and billions of $ to build and test, and it's due to launch later this month, around 22 December. There's a great mini-doco on Curiosity Stream which explains the enormous technical challenges that had to be surmounted to build it (may be paywalled, not sure.) Or you can just Google it, it's getting a lot of coverage in the lead-up.

    Here's hoping the launch (from British Guiana) and deployment (a million kilometers out!) go OK. There's hundreds of single-point failures in this device so many fingers will be crossed in Mission Control.

    JWST_hero.max-1000x1000.png

    Or check out this 3D model by Google.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    62
    I'm excited about this event as well. I didn't realize that the telescope will be sent a million kilometers out into space! That's an excellent vantage point. I can only wonder what sorts of findings this scientific equipment will find?
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    The idea, according to the doco I mentioned, is to capture wavelengths that are out of scope for other telescopes, so as to 'see' right back to the very early universe. The radiation has been attenuated (is that the right word?) by the expansion of the Universe in the billions of years since, so this instrument is especially designed to be able to capture them.

    It has to be a million kilometers out to avoid being affected by the infra-red radiation reflected from the Earth - the five-layer solar shade will shield the instrument from the Sun and is designed to allow the mirror to operate at around - 400 degrees F which is apparently a pre-requisite for the work it has to do. During the build they had to test it in a special NASA facility to ensure it works at these ultra-low temps. It's quite an amazing feat of engineering.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    Astronomers are cosmic historians. I wonder if our garden variety historians too, with the help of scientists of course, build some kind "telescope" to study humanity's past. Wouldn't it be absolutely fabulous to peer through one and see Socrates' trial or the battle of Gaugamela or the Buddha in Sarnath, to name a few on my wish list of things I wanna see?
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    build some kind "telescope" to study humanity's past.Agent Smith
    You already are that kind of "telescope" although not so easy to understand and use. Look in a mirror and unbeknownst to you your ancestors peer back out at you, some of them no doubt looking exactly like you; with similar with behaviours, thoughts, feelings.

    Archives are stored in language, especially old languages, especially dead languages, those that have been deciphered; in the literature if any, to be sure, but as well in the words themselves and how they're used and put together. And in the thoughts of people, and a specialty here the study of what people supposed was fundamentally the case about their world, called their absolute presuppositions, and how they have changed even to now.

    Telescopes themselves are romantic creations and telescope fever, the irresistible urge to buy ever bigger and more powerful telescopes a real thing. The reality is that telescopes are a tool, and like many tools, do not themselves do anything; the real "telescope" your looking for being just your mind, which all have but very few fully exploit.

    A useful comparison is astronomers and geologists. Both look at and attempt to understand something about long histories without access to that history, except in snapshots and what can be inferred from them - a lot of difficult work. And that would be the question: how hard do you want to work?
  • Manuel
    2.6k


    You beat me to making this thread. Thanks for posting.

    I'm quite excited to see what we may discover here.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    Bravo! Excellent point! I just wonder though how much of the (old) data in our genes have been overwritten/modified to such an extent that they're completely unrecoverable. Is it possible, that our cells have a Windows-like recycle bin?

    I'm sure there's a genius out there somewhere who can figure out a way to piece together our evolutionary history. The work, I believe, has already begun (the human genome project; old news) but there's more, a lot more that needs to be done.

    However, I don't see, at least not in paleo-DNA or other aspects of current human existence, any hope of reconstructing extinct languages or ancient "ideaverses" unless, of course, DNA is, well, the & .

    By the way, are you well-versed in optics?

    What's the difference between a telescope and a microscope? People look tiny when viewed from far. In a sense microorganisms are, my logic tells me, distant (temporally) objects; they're our ancestors going back, at the most, 4 Gya. Just like stars, our sun 8 minutes old and others much, much older.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    how much of the (old) data in our genes have been overwritten/modified to such an extent that they're completely unrecoverable.Agent Smith
    I'm not young. My sister has a pencil drawing from the early 1700s of a relative, a merchant at the time in Barbados. And we, three hundred years separated, are twins! On another occasion, as an adult much annoyed by my mother, I went and standing in a temper looking out over a lawn, saw my reflection in a nearby window. At that moment I was exactly my father! And I suspect that in a few hundred years when family albums contain extended videos and the like, these resemblances will be acknowledged as commonplaces. Psychology already plausibly argues that patterns of family behaviour last for generations long after the original actors have disappeared.

    But here is an excellent telescope for you:
    https://www.amazon.com/History-Begins-Sumer-Thirty-Nine-Recorded/dp/0812212762/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=sumer&qid=1639241610&sr=8-2
    Also at AbeBooks for less.

    Published c. 1956, dated to be sure, but it doesn't matter. Within, e.g., is a translation of the "first" love poem, and that will curl both your hair and your toes! But they did not know many of the things we know (and take completely for granted), but they dealt with the world anyway, and how is fascinating.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    :up: Good to know we've got someone so well-read in our neck of the woods.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    Astronomers are cosmic historians.Agent Smith

    actually this question and @tim woods response makes me question whether the study of the evolution of the universe is actually 'history'. The web definition of history is 'the study of past events, particularly in human affairs e.g. "medieval European history".

    2. the whole series of past events connected with a particular person or thing.
    "the history of the Empire".

    But the term 'pre-historic' is used for periods before written records, and the study of the development of life on earth is 'paleontology', where 'paleo' is derived from 'ancient past'.

    So the 'history of the Universe' is, I think, a metaphorical or poetic use of the word 'history'.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    history of the UniverseWayfarer

    Big History

    Big History is an academic discipline which examines history from the Big Bang to the present. Big History resists specialization, and searches for universal patterns or trends. It examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities, — Wikipedia
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    Of course. Kicking myself, I’ve watched Brian Swimme.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k


    Big History, if I understand it correctly, makes sense. In and around the Big Bang all there were were particles and so chronicle them. With the passing of each epoch, these particles began organizing themselves into more and more complex entities; Big History should reflect these stages in complexity. This, at the end of the day, implies the history of the cosmos at present should be about the most complex things in existence viz. humans, their minds to be precise; in other words, the last chapter in Big History, the present, should be the human mind and everything associated with it.

    A good format or no?
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    Sure! I really like those ideas. I will don’t understand ‘mind’ as being a consequence of molecular activity but that’s a different thread.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    Sure! I really like those ideas. I will don’t understand ‘mind’ as being a consequence of molecular activity but that’s a different thread.Wayfarer

    Aha! That's what's wrong with my format. I was wondering, do you see an possibility of?, the mind being simpler than the material (matter + energy)? The material universe simply refuses to fit into a mental model (ToE) i.e. the physical domain is "larger" than the mental. In other words the material world is more complex than the mental. How can something more complex (physical) explain something more simple (mind)? We've put the cart before the horse.

    Unicorns?

    Plus, as we look further back into the past (James Webb telescope and others like it), we seem to be actually exploring/diving into concepts (singularities, particles, and so on). That's why ToEs, at least the string theory one, has no physical (observable) consequences. It seems it all started with a simple idea.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    Aha! That's what's wrong with my format. I was wondering, do you see an possibility of?, the mind being simpler than the material (matter + energy)? The material universe simply refuses to fit into a mental model (ToE) i.e. the physical domain is "larger" than the mental. In other words the material world is more complex than the mental. How can something more complex (physical) explain something more simple (mind)? We've put the cart before the horse.Agent Smith

    That's a different subject, one often discussed but not directly connected to this thread. See for instance here. I think in this thread I really just want to track this particular device and perhaps some of the discoveries associated with it, presuming it goes according to plan.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    That's a different subject, one often discussed but not directly connected to this thread. See for instance here. I think in this thread I really just want to track this particular device and perhaps some of the discoveries associated with it, presuming it goes according to plan.Wayfarer

    :ok: Just threw it out there if you were interested in some way.

    Back to the main page: James Webb telescope. Isn't it rather convenient that scientists say that no matter how we try we simply won't be able to actually see the Big Bang because, they say, there's was a stage in Big History when the universe was, get this, opaque. That's kinda odd, don't you think? The universe seems determined not to let us find out what actually happened 13.8 Gya. Even our theoretical models fail, they can't parse anything before seconds. If these kinda unknowable regions in Big History exist, they remind me of media blackouts and gag orders issued to the press.

    Conspiracy theory? Why not? Someone should do a study on unknowables and see if there's a pattern in it. Are we being (deliberately) kept in the dark? In other words, are vital pieces of information, information crucial to solving the puzzle of all puzzles (life, the universe, everything) being (purposely) hidden (from us)?

    Agnoiology

    Agnoiology (from the Greek ἀγνοέω, meaning ignorance) is the theoretical study of the quality and conditions of ignorance, and in particular of what can truly be considered "unknowable" (as distinct from "unknown"). The term was coined by James Frederick Ferrier, in his Institutes of Metaphysic (1854), as a foil to the theory of knowledge, or epistemology. — Wikipedia

    Sorry if this amounts to derailing your thread.
  • Wayfarer
    16.1k
    Sorry if this amounts to derailing your thread.Agent Smith

    Not at all. '“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” ~ Max Planck.

    As I understand it, the moment of the singularity can't be known because time and space themselves started along with it. But the technicalities are beyond my ken.
  • 180 Proof
    8.7k
    Not a "conspiracy", IMO, just our own existential complexity (i.e. perspective) occluding fundamental simplicity (à la quantum uncertainty). Also, we are transparent to ourselves, thus the cognitive illusion of "the psyche" (that's temporarily coexistent with but ultimately "separate and distinct from (transcends)" embodiment) which drives folk psychology at the heart of religious (spiritual, supernatural) worldviews; rather, it's human facticity constituted by blindspots which both enable and constrain our understandings. Agnotology, on the other hand, just studies the ways our cognitive blindspots are (inadvertantly?) exploited, and even expanded, by our cultures and/or social arrangements.

    :fire: :clap: The raison d'etre of the James Webb Telescope project, no?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10k
    actually this question and tim woods response makes me question whether the study of the evolution of the universe is actually 'history'. The web definition of history is 'the study of past events, particularly in human affairs e.g. "medieval European history".Wayfarer

    I think the word "history" is used to create the illusion of science, by the authors. By calling it "history", the metaphysics which consists of speculations about the early universe. is presented as if it might be science.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    Not at all. '“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” ~ Max Planck.Wayfarer

    I should've been clearer. My theory is that no methodology of knowledge, science or otherwise, can penetrate the fog of ignorance. Yes, our corpus of knowledge has grown exponentially over the past 10k years but the picture we have is incomplete/fragmentary/partial.

    Crucial bits of evidence have been withheld from us, at least those of us who are in investigative disciplines (science, archaeology, cosmology, evolutionary biologist, and so on). This is the perfect moment for humanity to hire a private eye. They're natural skeptics, experience has taught them never to take things at face value. "Yes," one such especially sharp & seasoned detective might say, "we have evidence but there's something fishy about the evidence. I don't know to describe it but it's something like the last case I was working on." The investigator continues "We had a body but the head was missing and the fingers were badly mutilated. In short we had the victim but we couldn't identify him. It was as if the murderer was toying with us - giving us evidence that a crime had been committed but not enough to solve the case." :grin: I'm taking this a bit too far.

    P. S. My fictional detective is old, DNA fingerprinting hadn't been invented during his time.

    blindspots180 Proof

    Is there a pattern in/to our blindspots? What if all the action takes place in our blindspots. We would never know the truth. It's just a zany idea. Just let it flash by through your mind as you would a dull, vapid article in a journal/magazine.
  • 180 Proof
    8.7k
    A question for cognitive psychology, not philosophy.
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    A question for cognitive psychology, not philosophy.180 Proof

    Not necessarily. Philosophy is, in my humble opinion, the one subject that's always relevant, negatively, never irrelevant. In fact, we can have a philosophy of non-philosophy. Surely, something that's so all-encompassing will have something to say about cognitive psychology. Just sayin...
  • 180 Proof
    8.7k
    Is there a pattern in/to our blindspots?Agent Smith
    A question of empirical data (i.e. science) and not of e.g. formal construction or conceptual description or speculative interpretation (i.e. philosophy).

    Philosophy is, in my humble opinion, the one subject that's always relevant, negatively, never irrelevant.Agent Smith
    You're, of course, entitled to your opinion, Smith. I, on the hand, would rather not consider apples in terms of oranges (which would be a category mistake).
  • Agent Smith
    5.2k
    My own blinspots, I guess. I'll have to work on them. Ciao!
  • ssu
    5.9k
    Hope they have a flawless launch!
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    As I understand it, the moment of the singularity can't be known because time and space themselves started along with it. But the technicalities are beyond my ken.Wayfarer
    This is interesting topic. How would the "beginning of time" appear to measuring instruments and to brains interpreting those measurements?

    If time is the comparison of relative change (all measurements are comparisons of relative differences and similarities), then the beginning of time would be when things went from not changing to changing - when change started happening in the universe. But then one must ask the question if the universe is all there is and if there wasn't other change going on outside of the universe that may have caused the universe to come into being - which is just more change - in other words there could possibly be no beginning of time because there has always been change.

    If there was no change at all at one point in the multi-verses history, then how can that state of non-change cause change? It's the old question of how something can come from nothing. How can space-time come from a state of no space and no time?
  • Don Wade
    209
    If there was no change at all at one point in the multi-verses history, then how can that state of non-change cause change? It's the old question of how something can come from nothing. How can space-time come from a state of no space and no time?Harry Hindu

    There are still a lot of questions to answer. Our observatios are the only clues we have about the "early" Universe. But we still haven't learned that what we believe we see may not be what is really there.

    What if... "inflation" is still going on but expanding space ran out of elements to form matter some 13 billion years ago. What we would then see is what we are seeing now, that is, it would seem as if time started 13 billion years ago - because we have nothing to see past 13 billion years ago. That does not mean the Universe started 13 billion years ago - it could mean "matter" may have only been around for about 13 billion years. We would have no visual clues as to what matter was before it was matter... Not anywhere near enough information to compare, so we jump to conclusions and state matter is just matter and was always there...
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