Astronomers are obsessed with building larger and larger telescopes. There are two promises that we make with bigger telescopes: that they can see fainter things and that they see more detail. But it's been really hard to follow through on that second promise because of atmospheric distortion.
Andrea M. Ghez
This Excellent Mathematician having given us, in the Transactions of February last, an account of the cause, which induced him to think upon Reflecting Telescopes, instead of Refracting ones, hath thereupon presented the curious world with an Essay of what may be performed by such Telescopes; by which it is found, that Telescopical Tubes may be considerably shortened without prejudice to their magnifiying effect. On his invention of the catadioptrical telescope, as he communicated to the Royal Society.
The past is a distant, receding coastline, and we are all in the same boat. Along the stern rail there is a line of telescopes; each brings the shore into focus at a given distance. If the boat is becalmed, one of the telescopes will be in continual use; it will seem to tell the whole, the unchanging truth. But this is an illusion; and as the boat sets off again, we return to our normal activity: scurrying from one telescope to another, seeing the sharpness fade in one, waiting for the blur to clear in another. And when the blur does clear, we imagine that we have made it do so all by ourselves.
'As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I'd prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
It used to be that, in astronomy, a small team of people could look at photos of a few thousand galaxies and classify and catalog them relatively easily. But now, with a new generation of robotic telescopes scanning the skies constantly and producing millions of images, that's become next to impossible.
Equipped with our five senses - along with telescopes and microscopes and mass spectrometers and seismographs and magnetometers and particle accelerators and detectors sensitive to the entire electromagnetic spectrum - we explore the universe around us and call the adventure science.
Edwin Powell Hubble
We may take it that the world is undoubtedly itself [i.e., is indistinct from itself], but, in any attempt to see itself, as an object, it must, equally, undoubtedly act so as to make itself distinct from and therefore false to itself. In this sense, in respect to its own information, the universe must expand to escape the telescopes through which we, who are it, are trying to capture it, which is us.
G. Spencer Brown
There's something not quite Christian about it, " Tony said. He sat back in his chair and looked up to where his Bible sat on the shelf. "I can't put my finger on why exactly, but it doesn't seem right for a couple of young ladies to be out there in the middle of the night, obsessing over their telescopes.
What happens to the faith healer and the shaman when any poor citizen can see the full effect of drugs or surgeries, administered without ceremonies or mystifications? Roughly the same thing as happens to the rainmaker when the climatologist turns up, or to the diviner from the heavens when schoolteachers get hold of elementary telescopes.
Women decide the larger questions of life correctly and quickly, not because they are lucky guessers, not because they are divinely inspired, not because they practise a magic inherited from savagery, but simply and solely because they have sense. They see at a glance what most men could not see with searchlights and telescopes.... They are the supreme realists of the race.
H. L. Mencken
Everything we know about the universe is studied by using telescopes or other instruments that look at visible light, infrared, ultraviolet or X-ray - different wavelengths of electromagnetic interactions. Only 4 percent of what's in the universe gives off electromagnetic radiation, so we don't have any handle on the rest.
Rather than feeling lost and unimportant and meaningless, set against galaxies which go beyond the reach of the furthest telescopes, I feel that my life has meaning. Perhaps I should feel insignificant, but instead I feel a soaring in my heart that the God who could create all this - and out of nothing - can still count the hairs of my head.
Rather than feeling lost and unimportant and meaningless, set against galaxies which go beyond the reach of the furthest telescopes, I feel that my life has meaning. Perhaps I should feel insignificant, but instead I feel a soaring in my heart that the God who could create all this "" and out of nothing "" can still count the hairs of my head.
We know there are billions of stars and planets literally out there, and the universe is getting bigger. We know from our fancy telescopes that just in the last two years more than 20 planets have been identified outside our solar system that seem to be far enough away from their suns - - and dense enough - - that they might be able to support some form of life. So it makes it increasing less likely that we're alone. But if we were visited someday, I wouldn't be surprised.
William J. Clinton
What intelligent being, what being capable of responding emotionally to a beautiful sight, can look at the jagged, silvery lunar crescent trembling in the azure sky, even through the weakest of telescopes, and not be struck by it in an intensely pleasurable way, not feel cut off from everyday life here on Earth and transported toward that first step on celestial journeys?
The discovery in 1846 of the planet Neptune was a dramatic and spectacular achievement of mathematical astronomy. The very existence of this new member of the solar system, and its exact location, were demonstrated with pencil and paper; there was left to observers only the routine task of pointing their telescopes at the spot the mathematicians had marked.
James R Newman
If a photographic plate under the center of a lens focused on the heavens is exposed for hours, it comes to reveal stars so far away that even the most powerful telescopes fail to reveal them to the naked eye. In a similar way, time and concentration allow the intellect to perceive a ray of light in the darkness of the most complex problem.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal
Science is not, as so many seem to think, something apart, which has to do with telescopes, retorts, and test-tubes, and especially with nasty smells, but it is a way of searching out by observation, trial and classification; whether the phenomena investigated be the outcome of human activities, or of the more direct workings of nature's laws. Its methods admit of nothing untidy or slip-shod; its keynote is accuracy and its goal is truth.
Archibald E. Garrod
What does it mean for a civilisation to be a million years old? We have had radio telescopes and spaceships for a few decades; our technical civilisation is a few hundred years old ... an advanced civilisation millions of years old is as much beyond us as we are beyond a bushbaby or a macaque
In all these products, whether iron bridges, locomotives, automobiles, telescopes, cottages, airport-hangars, funicular railways, skyscrapers, or children's toys, the will towards a new style expresses itself. The similarity of these examples to the new creations in art consists in the same striving for clear, pure form which expresses truth in the objects.
Theo van Doesburg
If there is no solace in the fruits of our research, there is at least some consolation in the research itself. Men and women are not content to comfort themselves with tales of gods and giants, or to confine their thoughts to the daily affairs of life; they also build telescopes and satellites and accelerators and sit at their desks for endless hours working out the meaning of the data they gather.
If you are serious about your religion, if you really wish to commit yourself to the spiritual quest, you must learn how to use psychochemicals. Drugs are the religion of the twenty-first century. Pursuing the religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye because that's how they did it in the first century A.D., and besides telescopes are unnatural.
One of the reasons NEOWISE is so valuable is that it sees the sky in the thermal infrared. That means that instead of seeing the sunlight that asteroids reflect, NEOWISE sees the heat that they emit. This is a vital capability, since some asteroids are as dark as coal and can be difficult or impossible to spot with other telescopes.
Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the sky would present us an uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy-since there could be absolutely no point, in all that background, at which would not exist a star. The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all.
Edgar Allan Poe
If humankind - from humble farmers in the fields and toiling workers in the cities to teachers, people of independent means, those who have reached the pinnacle of fame or fortune, even the most frivolous of society women - if they knew what profound inner pleasure awaits those who gaze at the heavens, then France, nay, the whole of Europe, would be covered with telescopes instead of bayonets, thereby promoting universal happiness and peace.
With increasing distance, our knowledge fades, and fades rapidly. Eventually, we reach the dim boundary-the utmost limits of our telescopes. There, we measure shadows, and we search among ghostly errors of measurement for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. Not until the empirical resources are exhausted, need we pass on to the dreamy realms of speculation.
Edwin Powell Hubble
Astronomy may be revolutionized more than any other field of science by observations from above the atmosphere. Study of the planets, the Sun, the stars, and the rarified matter in space should all be profoundly influenced by measurements from balloons, rockets, probes and satellites. ... In a new adventure of discovery no one can foretell what will be found, and it is probably safe to predict that the most important new discovery that will be made with flying telescopes will be quite unexpected and unforeseen. (1961)
I never really understood that massive collaboration involving hundreds of people is what makes movies possible, and it's also why I would agree that curiosity is not the most important human trait; the urge to collaborate is. Heck . . . only we have the ability to cooperate to make like online communities and space telescopes and imaginariums and movies. So the great thrill of this whole experience [my novel being made into a movie] for me was . .. .seeing humanity do what it's best at, which ultimately is not competing but cooperating.
The problem here is that a civilization that is 1,000 light years away doesn't know we exist. They don't know that we have radio telescopes here on Earth because they see Earth as it was 1,000 years ago. Nothing can travel faster than light, so however good their instruments they can't see in affect the future. So there is no particular reason they should be sending us messages at this time.
Psychedelic experience is only a glimpse of genuine mystical insight, but a glimpse which can be matured and deepened by the various ways of meditation in which drugs are no longer necessary or useful. If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.
In our Mechanics' Fair, there must be not only bridges, ploughs, carpenter's planes, and baking troughs, but also some few finer instruments,--rain-gauges, thermometers, and telescopes; and in society, besides farmers, sailors, and weavers, there must be a few persons of purer fire kept specially as gauges and meters of character; persons of a fine, detecting instinct, who note the smallest accumulations of wit and feeling in the bystander.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Through our science we have created magnificent spacecrafts and telescopes to explore the night and the light and the half light. We have made visible things that are invisible to the unaided eye. We have brought the dreamy heavens down to Earth, held them in the mind's eye. Our explorations have produced a vast archive of remarkable astronomical images... The riches are too many for choices, the revelations beautiful and dreadful. Who can look at these images and not be transformed? The heavens declare God's glory.
He was a physicist, more precisely an astrophysicist, diligent and eager but without illusions: the Truth lay beyond, inaccessible to our telescopes, accessible to the initiates. This was a long road which he was traveling with effort, wonderment, and profound joy. Physics was prose: elegant gymnastics for the mind, mirror of Creation, the key to man's dominion over the planet; but what is the stature of Creation, of man and the planet? His road was long and he had barely started up it, but I was his disciple: did I want to follow him?
To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings. We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in.
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
I think that the event which, more than anything else, led me to the search for ways of making more powerful radio telescopes, was the recognition, in 1952, that the intense source in the constellation of Cygnus was a distant galaxy-1000 million light years away. This discovery showed that some galaxies were capable of producing radio emission about a million times more intense than that from our own Galaxy or the Andromeda nebula, and the mechanisms responsible were quite unknown... [T]he possibilities were so exciting even in 1952 that my colleagues and I set about the task of designing instruments capable of extending the observations to weaker and weaker sources, and of exploring their internal structure.
I linger near Galileo's telescopes, then round the corner and stand transfixed: I did not expect this- a dark, cool room full of globes of the night sky from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Globo celeste, they are called in Italian: 'celestial globe, ' maps of the night sky... I imagine him making another globo celeste, this one smaller, yet still exquisitely painted, still breathtaking in detail. It's a map of the earth still flowing with creation, one you can spin and when you stop it with your finger, there is some tiny detail... some miraculous beauty, some wonderful example from each location at night. The white flower of a night blooming saguaro cactus, the feathers from a great-horned owl, the crunched, smiling face of a particular bat- here, I'm spinning it, I stop it at in the north, where I want there to be something still- he's painted the black-and-white feathers of a loon... or a globe of night sounds, so that by touching your location you hear the night there- the cricket song, the ocean surf, the frog mating calls.
(...)Through the ship's telescopes, he had watched the death of the solar system. With his own eyes, he had seen the volcanoes of Mars erupt for the first time in a billion years; Venus briefly naked as her atmosphere was blasted into space before she herself was consumed; the gas giants exploding into incandescent fireballs. But these were empty, meaningless spectacles compared with the tragedy of Earth. That, too, he had watched through the lenses of cameras that had survived a few minutes longer than the devoted men who had sacrificed the last moments of their lives to set them up. He had seen... the Great Pyramid, glowing dully red before it slumped into a puddle of molten stone... the floor of the Atlantic, baked rock-hard in seconds, before it was submerged again, by the lava gushing from the volcanoes of the Mid-ocean Rift... the Moon rising above the flaming forests of Brazil and now itself shining almost as brilliantly as had the Sun, on its last setting, only minutes before... the continent of Antarctica emerging briefly after its long burial, as the kilometres of ancient ice were burned away... the mighty central span of the Gibraltar Bridge, melting even as it slumped downward through the burning air... In that last century the Earth was haunted with ghosts - not of the dead, but of those who now could never be born. For five hundred years the birthrate had been held at a level that would reduce the human population to a few millions when the end finally came. Whole cities - even countries - had been deserted as mankind huddled together for History's closing act.
Arthur C. Clarke
The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote. Nevertheless, it has been found that there are apparent exceptions to most of these laws, and this is particularly true when the observations are pushed to a limit, i.e., whenever the circumstances of experiment are such that extreme cases can be examined. Such examination almost surely leads, not to the overthrow of the law, but to the discovery of other facts and laws whose action produces the apparent exceptions. As instances of such discoveries, which are in most cases due to the increasing order of accuracy made possible by improvements in measuring instruments, may be mentioned: first, the departure of actual gases from the simple laws of the so-called perfect gas, one of the practical results being the liquefaction of air and all known gases; second, the discovery of the velocity of light by astronomical means, depending on the accuracy of telescopes and of astronomical clocks; third, the determination of distances of stars and the orbits of double stars, which depend on measurements of the order of accuracy of one-tenth of a second-an angle which may be represented as that which a pin's head subtends at a distance of a mile. But perhaps the most striking of such instances are the discovery of a new planet or observations of the small irregularities noticed by Leverrier in the motions of the planet Uranus, and the more recent brilliant discovery by Lord Rayleigh of a new element in the atmosphere through the minute but unexplained anomalies found in weighing a given volume of nitrogen. Many other instances might be cited, but these will suffice to justify the statement that 'our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.
Albert Abraham Michelson