See the work of God | Dhaka Tribune

Assess the possible impact of the James Webb telescope

The past 150 years have witnessed an explosion of real knowledge based on science, measurement, and competition to find out the truth. The truth is not what is transmitted by a leader, a priest or a general, even though such people may believe that they have the truth in their hands.

Truth arises from observation, measurement, reflection and argument where decision and meanings emerge from a competitive process, and the judge is the laws of statistics. The explosion of knowledge came from discoveries in physics and mathematics, combined with the willingness of some wealthy people, and sometimes the government, to pay for the necessary equipment and materials.

After these 150 years, we have a pretty complete explanation of how the universe works, from things as small as the nucleus of an atom to the size of a galaxy. For really complex things in this range like the human cell or brain, knowledge is partial but increasing all the time. The basic structure of biology is established. There are at least a few centuries of work, but we will reach a global vision of biology, even of the human brain.

But the limits of the knowledge of the very small and the very large remain full of puzzles. If we are lucky, then today, on Christmas December 25, the first step will take place to lead to a giant increase in our knowledge of a very large part of the universe – the James Webb telescope will be launched from the French Guiana. It’s a tremendous understanding to place an extraordinarily complex instrument in space that will record data and send it to us in how the universe was so much more like the ‘Big Bang’ when things as we know them really started. .

There are a lot of mysteries to be unraveled. We believe that the mass and energy of the universe is about 5% matter of the type we are made of and 25% dark matter that we cannot see and only know due to of the impact of dark matter on the way galaxies move. . We have strong evidence that the universe started with an explosion, the Big Bang, so space expanded and all the bits of matter moved away from everything else.

Imagine a dough full of raisins. While you heat the dough [space] it expands and each raisin is farther from all the other raisins. If you think about it, you realize that over time the gravitational pull on an object increases. You expect the expansion to slow down. But this is not the case.

Instead, it speeds up, so that the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing and not decreasing. We explain this by introducing the dark energy which is responsible for this acceleration of expansion. The amount of dark energy represents 70% of the energy and mass of the universe. But the amount of dark energy required is incompatible with other data; maybe we don’t know how fast the universe is expanding and accelerating at the same time. The Webb Telescope will help solve this problem to some extent.

There are many issues and uncertainties in our understanding of the universe on this scale and the new James Webb Telescope will help deepen our understanding of how the universe formed. This is the kind of data that we urgently need.

The Hubble Telescope has traveled back in time 500 million years after the Big Bang, which took place 13.6 billion years ago. The Webb Telescope will look back just 50 million years after the Big Bang. We will learn from real observations what was happening in this first period of the universe.

In addition, the telescope will give information about the possibility of biochemical life on the planets that we have discovered by the millions in our own galaxy. This is another exciting possibility.

It is a daring and risky endeavor. The telescope cost around $ 10 billion. This is 20 times more than its initial budget. He is 14 years late. Things were more difficult to do than initially expected. The cost and time overruns of Bangladesh’s mega-projects are unlike anything in comparison.

The telescope will fly to a point a million kilometers from Earth. It is a particular point where it can remain more or less fixed in space. The telescope is folded up because it is considerably larger than the size of the spacecraft. Then a large sunscreen transported folded up in the spacecraft will be released and assembled to protect the telescope from heat. The telescope should be kept at about minus 250 degrees C.

If all of this is accomplished as planned, it will in itself be a remarkable technical achievement.

It is a project which is planned and which will be used by the international community. He will deepen human knowledge, getting closer than ever to the beginning of the universe and also looking for evidence of other life forms on the planets of our galaxy. It will help us understand the structure of the universe and move closer and closer to the physics and mathematics of God’s plan. But the boldness of the vision, the determination to go further into space, is an American project. America provided the money and determined management to achieve this goal.

If successful, it will strengthen Americans’ confidence in our society. If he fails, he will add to our discouragement. But humanity’s thirst and quest for knowledge of our universe is strong, and the next 50 years will be a time of wonder as the fog of our ignorance evaporates.

We are more than inhabitants of the Earth; we are explorers of the universe in our mind, and soon with our body.

Forrest Cookson is an economist who was the first chairman of AmCham and was a consultant for the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Maria D. Ervin