Astronomy is the most ancient science in the world. People of the ancient civilizations depended on changes in stars, the moon, and the sun to conduct most of their activities, including important activities such as navigation. Several developments have taken place to arrive at our current understanding of the physics behind astronomy.
These include the description of gravity by Einstein in the theory of relativity and the quantum theory that describes the building block of matter. We only get to see a small component of the Universe as the larger part of the Universe is comprised of dark matter, which is invisible (Jastrow and Rampino 86).
This paper looks at the instruments that measure the Universe, the relationship between the oraborus and the Universe, as well as the role and place of human beings in the Universe.
Instruments measuring the Universe
Astronomers are able to gain knowledge of the cosmos using various instruments. The telescope is the most crucial instrument used to gather radiation from space (Rieke115). The data collected is then stored digitally or electronically on a photographic film.
Data is then analyzed using laws and theories of physics. After analysis, astronomers decide on the data that needs to be collected or added to the results of the study. Telescopes have evolved significantly over the years. They initially relied on visible light but now operate across the electromagnetic spectrum.
There are various types of telescopes. “Optical telescopes are specifically designed to collect wavelengths that can be seen by the naked human eye” (Rieke 116). They date back to as early as the seventeenth century during the days of Galileo and are the most known telescopes. “There are two basic types of optical telescopes; refractors and reflectors” (Rieke 116).
Reflector telescopes have a curved mirror as they are meant to collect and concentrate a beam of light so that all the rays pass through the prime focus regardless of how far they are from the axis (Rieke 118). Refractor telescopes bend the beam of light as it passes from one transparent medium to another, focusing on incoming light using a lens. Large fields of view require reflector telescopes.
An eyepiece is usually used to magnify the image obtained from observation. The downside of refracting telescopes is that light has to pass through the lens, and it is impossible to construct large lenses in such a way that light can pass uniformly (Rieke 120).
Sir Isaac Newton invented the Newtonian telescope, which intercepts and deflects light by 90 degrees before it reaches the focal point. The design is used for small telescopes used by recreational astronomers. Astronomers sometimes use spectroscopes to observe the Universe.
The disadvantage of spectroscopes is that they are too heavy to rise to the prime focal point (Rieke, 127). Large reflectors are capable of forming images of constricted fields of view. Bernhard Schmidt invented the Schmidt telescope in the 1930s.
“It uses a correcting lens to sharpen the reflection of the whole field of view” (Rieke 127). It is recommended by astronomers because it produces photographs of a wider angle and can cover extensive distances in the sky. It uses a Schmidt camera to magnify images.
The Palomar Observatory Schmidt camera is the largest in the world and surveys the complete northern sky in the 1950s (Jastrow and Rampino 87). Other instruments used by astronomers include bolometers, X-ray telescopes, Gamma-ray telescopes, infrared telescopes, radio telescopes, polarimeters, image intensifiers, detectors, optical interferometers, charge-coupled devices, vidicons, photomultipliers, and photographic plates (Rieke 127).
The Oraborus versus the Universe
The oraborus is a mythical creature believed to be the first creature to live in the Universe. The life of the creature began and ended with itself. It did not need eyes because it could not see anything outside itself; neither did it require ears because there was nothing it could hear since it was all alone in the Universe.
It did not need organs to assist in eating or digesting because there was nothing to ingest or excrete. The oraborus had to feed on its own waste. The food it ate would then become waste, and it would feed on the waste. Its life was an endless cycle. It did not have arms or legs, as there was no need for movement. The creature thus moved around a circle in a spherical movement on the same spot (Kaku and Thompson 309).
The Universe is similar to the oraborus in that it has no feet, thus limited to circular movements on the same spot. It is not possible to determine its beginning neither is it possible to measure where it ends. In all chemical tests, the oraborus symbolized a snake that does not move and ends up eating its tail. Upon feeding on its tail, the snake is able to sustain itself (Kaku and Thompson 311).
It is able to fertilize itself and give birth to itself and therefore, its life cannot end. This is also true of the Universe. It is impossible to destroy the Universe or end it. The Universe is also capable of sustaining itself and does not have to rely on anybody or anything (Kaku and Thompson 315). The eating of its own tail symbolizes the cyclic seasons of the Universe.
The Place of Human Beings
Galileo was the first human being to use a telescope to study the Universe and saw things that nobody on earth had ever seen. He saw stars, the moon, and identified mountains on its surface. He even spotted Jupiter. His 400th anniversary was marked in 2010.
Since then human beings have potted billions of galaxies beyond The Milk Galaxy, over one hundred billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and over four hundred planets surrounding stars outside the galaxy (Jastrow and Rampino 91). Scientists made an astonishing discovery that the discoveries made so far only constitute 4% of the Universe. The Universe consists of tiny bits of dark energy, which catalyze the evolution of the cosmos.
We as human beings are caught up between the big and small forces, and it is upon us to study them so that we can get a clear understanding of the Universe. It is not exactly clear what the dark forces are made of, and scientists think of the matter as imaginary particles (Jastrow and Rampino 93). The National Research Council listed “What constitutes dark energy?” as the burning scientific question of the future decades in 2003.
Astronomers posit that there exist small bits of dark energy in the Universe, which accelerate the rate of expansion in the cosmos (Jastrow and Rampino 95). Dark energy is the most mysterious concept that has confronted scientists. Astronomers are now rethinking the various theories of physics formulated by people like Einstein.
As they continue with their research, we can only sit back and ponder about the galaxy we call home and its mother, the Universe. The Universe remains an enigma to human beings. How it has survived and how it evolves is the question scientists are yet to answer.
Jastrow, Robert, and Michael R. Rampino. Origins of Life in the Universe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.
Kaku, Michio, and Jennifer T. Thompson. Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe. New York: Anchor Books, 2011. Print.
Rieke, G H. Measuring the Universe: A Multi-wavelength Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.