It’s easy to miss out on Big Stuff because of little stuff. Little stuff is not necessarily without value, but it’s ephemeral. Yet it occupies most of our attention, most of the time.
Here in the USA we took care of some little stuff by re-electing an intelligent, compassionate President, so this blog can put aside terrestrial politics and take a peek out there.
The featured image is of an astronomical telescope at Paranal (Peru) shooting a laser toward the Milky Way (click here for larger images).
No, this is not a bunch of juvenile astronomers trying to prank ET or blind UFO pilots! The laser creates an artificial reference “star” to calibrate the telescope to compensate for atmospheric blurring. Who could have imagined such technology!
This telescope may have been the first to capture an image of an exoplanet, the existence of which was only a theory in 1970 when I first looked through the 12-inch refractor at Keele University and saw Saturn hanging like a white gold orb in a setting of rings.
How far we have come in our understanding of the universe, and how much further we are going. For example, instead of humanity being forever isolated due to the dimensions of space-time, it seems increasingly likely that we will be able to detect life on exoplanets many light-years away.
Talking of Big Stuff, the $3 billion NASA Mars Rover Curiosity has found something. They are not saying much about it right now. This is partly because they are scientists who want to check their facts, and partly because NASA is dramatizing their missions to catch the imagination of the taxpayers who fund them. They are marketing their mysterious discovery about Martian soil as Big Stuff. Let’s hope it is!