Webb Space Telescope

Dennis Overbye writes powerfully-poetically in "The James Webb Space Telescope and a Quest Every Human Shares":

The Webb telescope is designed to ferret out the very first stars and galaxies that lit up the foggy aftermath of the Big Bang and initiated the grand crescendo of evolution that produced us, among other things, as well as to search for clues to whether the conditions might be right for other creatures' emergence, on nearby exoplanets.

There was no military or economic advantage in devoting 25 years and $10 billion of national treasure to build a telescope, of all things, devoted not to looking down at our enemies, but out across time and space, trying to decipher the nature and condition of our origins. We all share the quest even if we all don't get the time and chance to obsess about it.

It's not just Einstein's universe, it's ours too. Our crib and our crypt.


Building it required the best of humans: cooperation and devotion to knowledge, daring and humility, respect for nature and our own ignorance, and the grit to keep picking up the pieces from failure and start again. And again.


We stagger upward under the weight of our knowledge of our own mortality. In the face of the ultimate abyss that is destiny, we can find honor and dignity in the fact that we played the cosmic game to win, trying to know and feel as much as we can in the brief centuries allotted to us.

(cf Edge of the Universe (1999-06-08), Universal Knowns (2002-06-13), Infinite in All Directions (2003-12-02), What We Know (2006-08-15), Full Moon Metaphors (2007-10-29), Mantra - Grind New Lenses (2017-12-26), Reading the Book of Nature (2021-09-10), ...) - ^z - 2022-01-29