Twice in less than a week, the front pages of the nation’s two premier newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, were filled by large photographs dominated by a virtually-identical orange-yellow hue.
On Thursday, April 11, the photos were of something out of the Lord of the Rings films, the giant fiery Eye of Sauron, the epitome of pure evil. But it was no fantasy, it was the first ever real photograph of the entry to a Black Hole at the heart of a galaxy 55 million light years from earth. “Peering Into Light’s Graveyard: The First Image of a Black Hole,” was the Times’ headline, noting that a novel linking together of antennas around the globe enabled the earth to be turned into a telescope in order to capture the incredible image.
The bright colors in the photograph, ranging from dark orange to bright yellow around a black center, altogether in the shape of a donut, as it were, was of the obliteration of all matter, including light, that is being sucked into the Black Hole.
For persons who make it a point to cultivate mindfulness of the role of our planet in the context of a universe so unimaginably vast, the image is downright stunning, awesome and fearsome.
Scientists, being scientists, resolutely avoid any moral or spiritual suggestions associated with observations of the cosmos.
To them, in their commendable objectivity, it matters only if it is there or not, and they’re plenty excited to establish that what has been theorized for so long has now been caught on camera. Black Holes exist.
It is for the rest of us, the beneficiaries of the work of such scientists, to wonder about the meaning and significance of such phenomena that are part of an unbroken continuum of existence that includes you, I and the cat. Yes, we on earth are participants in the same unbroken expanse of the universe as that Black Hole looming out there.
In one way or another, we are being impacted, if seemingly ever so minutely, by the existence of that thing. It is pulling on us. It wants to suck us in and evaporate us.
It may not have a mind, per se, and therefore not be doing it intentionally, but it is part of the same cosmos where minds — yours, mine, the cat’s — do exist that can and do contemplate such things. It may be a long way off, but even driving coast to coast, or worse, taking a Greyhound bus, can seem like it takes forever, but sooner or later around one last turn the Golden Gate bridge battling a fog bank comes into view.
It’s because time, as our friend Albert Einstein noted, is relative, and this week’s photographic Black Hole evidence proved his relativity theory’s operativity more than ever.
It’s like the time space between last Thursday’s front page photos and the ones from this Tuesday, the orange-yellow ones with cloudy white smoke included, showing an 800 year old icon, arguably the world’s most impressive and dominant representation of our humanity’s intentionality and potential, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Call us People of the Light. The cathedral is in the City of Lights. Our purpose is for light, for creation, to prevail.
On the Notre Dame calamity, it is as if from somewhere in the universe a laser flaming arrow was sent into the very heart of what we as a species deem the root of our moral and poetic existence, as if to signal a dire warning that the failure to stop the ascent of our dark side, to stop Trump and such madness as the next step in it, will end this planet. I can see no other purpose for such a wanton, timely and momentous event.
Science is only beginning to discover mysterious realities of this universe, including phenomena like “entangled particles” that Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”
“Entangled” photons can transfer states between them spontaneously despite great distances, according to science, “taking place at a speed of at least 10,000 times the speed of light, possibly even instantaneously, regardless of distance.”