First thoughts on the World Wide Telescope…
Looking up and out through the night sky, we encounter the entire universe as it is now and as it was – closer and closer to the beginning of spacetime. Past Earth’s moon, a mere 240 thousand miles away, the orbit of Neptune, 4.46 billion miles from the Sun, to the nearest stars, which are light-years away, to distant galaxies that stretch our vision hundreds, thousands, and millions of light years toward the zone where the big bang radiation begins nearly 14 billion years ago – we gaze simultaneously through time and space.
Recalling so many years at the lenses of binoculars, open-tube reflector scopes, and my trusty Celestron 8 telescope, I nearly froze my fingers during the coldest clearest winter nights to catch a glimpse of Saturn’s rings or the Orion Nebula. I recall as well the ecstasy of feeling my direct connection to the universe at large.
And now, knowing what I know, aware that I am witnessing the infinite becoming of the entire universe within the instant of an eternal present – in which I am not simply the watcher but also the watched – I am moved to point a finger toward the final ineffable source of all that is true and beautiful in Nature. Join me in this journey. The whole astonishing universe is who and what you are!
WWT in an interactive whiteboard
Roy Gould on WWT at TED
Image: Microsoft World Wide Telescope, composite image, 2008 by TFD