Sunday, July 5, 2009

An Astronomical Allegory by Edwin L. Young, PhD



An Astronomical Allegory
By Edwin L. Young, PhD

It has been three months since I have been out to any place or event except the grocery store and two movies. On July 1, I attended a lecture and slide show at the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas. The topic was the West Texas McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. It turned out to be more about the history and current status of Astronomy telescopes and their recent discoveries. It was quite amazing. I was astounded by the enormous size of the latest telescope. (see: http://macdonaldobservatory.org) They now can detect Elements of the Table of Chemicals millions of light years away.

They are now even discovering new elements created when giant stars and supernovas explode. What fascinated me most was the discovery of one astronomer that, not only was the universe expanding, it is expanding at an accelerating rate. (OK, so if it gets too much faster, we may find our earth and us on the very outer edge of the universe, and just about to sail over the edge. If and when that happens, if you are not securely tied down, you may just fly off into erehwon.) (Just joking. Well, maybe a bit of Gallows humor.)



Reflecting later on this point, I recalled a sentence in my recent essay on "Staring into the Abyss" where I was contemplating our own in parallel with the mortality of the universe. As our space travelers and cinemas like "Star Wars" physically may be going where no man dared to go before, just sitting in my poor man's ivory tower and contemplating these new astronomical discoveries and their significance for cosmology and metaphysics requires its own boldness to mentally go where no man dared to go before. By no man, of course, I am referring to pre-contemporary, generic man. Immediately after the lecture, I was chatting with a couple of UT astronomers and mentioned this expanding universe phenomena and jokingly said that while the earth may actually be a part of a gigantic impending annihilation of the universe, we very likely may have orchestrated our own specie's annihilation long before that.

Are we not witnessing that ghastly prophecy looming at an accelerating pace over the horizon? Or, are we accelerating it precisely because our collective, uncontrollably ravenous greed excludes from vision all else save the next instant, here and now, trivial (by comparison), gratification? As politicians and the media ignore scientists' research studies about climate change, ecosystems, and the like, our governments are disabled from enacting measures to successfully manage human populations and their behaviors and thereby rapidly are pushing us toward extinction. Let modern astronomy's discoveries be a stellar allegory about where we have been and are heading and a parable warning us to begin rigorous self-correction.

Author bio:

Edwin is a 76 year old, retired, psychotherapist/institution reformer. His greatest satisfaction came from reforming many juvenile correctional institutions, a maximum security prison, a West Texas mental hospital, and the huge Job Corps in San Marcos, Texas. All in all there were thirteen institutions that he successfully reformed. In the last year of his PhD program, Edwin was one of the two PhD graduate students to be awarded the annual University Research Institute grant. His dissertation committee said his was the longest, best, and most complex in the history of the department. Since retiring, Edwin spends his time writing. His site is: The Natural Systems Institute.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You still write extremely well.
Susan