On seeing the light
By Justin Isherwood
During Public Television’s “Cosmos” we often heard Carl Sagan intone the words, “billions and billions,” whether of stars or galaxies. To wonder if a rewrite of Genesis might use Carl Sagan’s words, “In the beginning were billions and billions.” And if those billions and billions might change the theological perspective, to suggest it’s not just about us.
A recent atmospheric analysis of a planet 25,000 light years away was found to have both nitrogen and water vapor, to emphasize this was detected at a range of 25,000 light years. Detecting nitrogen and water vapor at 25,000 light years is how we shall someday discover what will be a core revelation to our species. To wage against the ancient soliloquy of we being the only offspring of the universe, or of God. Someday to know with confidence we aren’t alone, because someone or something else has figured out how to pollute their atmosphere and generate the spectral signal of those pollutants to be read out 25,000 light years away.
As for Carl Sagan’s intoned chorus of “billions and billions,” it turns out Carl was mistaken by a factor of a thousand. He should have said “trillions.”
In an article by Christopher Conselice in Astronomy magazine titled “Our Trillion Galaxy Universe,” he detailed how our current estimate of a 100 billion-galaxy universe has been recalculated to become a trillion-galaxy universe.
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