Commentary

The brute ability to solve complex problems

Recent achievements of photographing black holes & detecting gravitational waves. People, Ideas, Machinery that are setting humankind up for discoveries and momentum, one decade at a time.

Published: 17 April, 2020.

It’s interesting the type of significant discoveries that’s been made in the last 50 years. No; that makes less impact. Let’s try this.

It’s interesting to know that some of the most significant discoveries known to Humans were made in the last 50 years. Discoveries in Space, specifically.

The scale of some of these discoveries are immense. The impact should be earth shattering. And when you add the fact that the discoveries were recent, it’s importance begins to compound significantly. We, as a species, having done nothing to integrate this new information into our day-to-day existence is even more astounding.

Let’s try this one for example. Hubble didn’t take ‘Deep Field’ until 1995. At-that-point we knew, the earth was round, about 9-planets, the milky way, “billions” of stars, that an andromeda galaxy lay amongst several others. That formed the whole known Universe. Inexplicable as that was, what Deep Field confirmed absolutely shattered any-reasonable-expectation of what really existed in the Universe. How consequential, precious, life was. I think the depth of that discovery was lost on the general populace.

Fast forward to this 21st century, and the new material continues to flow. Be it hitting Pluto on a dime after a 10-year-slingshot, be it building a World-size telescope needed to photograph a black hole by deciding to put 5 pieces of glass in 5 desolate regions in 5 corners of the Globe, pointing it towards the night-sky and synchronizing the data as one using computer or be it realizing a 20-year-old idea by first raising the funding, then constructing two, 6-km-long, 45-degree-separation, arrow-straight-arms to run a laser experiment to prove gravitational waves, the brute ability of humxnkind to solve complex problems because it must, continues to impress.

Black holes are understandable enough, as it turns out. It’s just going to take consuming enough information about it, so your brain can start to comprehend what you want it to understand. A Black Hole is what scientists call a ‘Singularity’. A ‘Singularity’ is the term they use to define something where all explanation in the known World stops to exist or make sense. Math and Sciences are our ways of explaining what’s happening in the World. Every element already exists. Every mechanism already persists. We use math as a symbolic representation to explain what’s occurring in the Universe. We have found a way to use words and symbols i.e. language and math, to explain what we see happening around us.

Now, consider all the physics, math, and environmental studies you’ve been tried to be taught. A Black Hole is a point in the Universe where all these explanations we use to describe the working of the World, fails. A Singularity. Things are moving faster than we know they can, light is behaving in ways we wouldn’t expect, at that single-spot in the sky.

Einstein proposed its existence. That of Black Holes. The phrasing of that sentence is important. He proposed it. It was before a time of high-powered telescoping equipment. He could only propose it. That alone, is impressive. It means that as he wrote-out his math (his explanation of how the Universe is working), he found that for a specific type of input, his formula that explained his theory kept breaking down. Think of it like your calculator going ‘Error’ when you hit calculate for X * Y. His math was arriving at the singularity. In a somewhat similar approach, gravitational-waves were proposed. It had to be there.

It took about 25 years to get from these proposals to a point where someone clever enough came along and proposed methods for how we might be able to capture evidence that they exist from Earth. Think about that. A close enough Black Hole is over a Trillion miles away. They had to solve how to ‘see’ it from Earth. Anyway, someone proposed that by drawing it on a piece of paper. And then, another 25 years later, humanity had reached a point of being able to build out the equipment that was proposed. Then they hit the ‘On’ button.

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