Monday, December 06, 2010

Seeing the universe with different eyes

I just finished teaching a semester long course in quantum mechanics today. Quantum mechanics gives you an odd view of the universe sometimes (which may explain much about me and/or my writing!). Humans can only detect a small portion of the light that suffuses the universe. This lovely site shows what it might look like if we could see with different eyes -- eyes that detected a wider range of light, and/or at different frequencies.

My favorite set of "eyes" are those shown in the picture, ones that see in the Hydrogen-α range of the spectrum (the light that is released when electrons in hydrogen atoms fall from one level to another - n=3 to n=2 in the Balmer series for those in the know). Suddenly our galaxy is aflame.

Give it at try - tell me which view you like the best!

"By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us and moulds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers. In eo vivimus. As Jacob said, awakening from his dream, the world, this palpable world, which we were wont to treat with the boredom and disrespect with which we habitually regard places with no sacred association for us, is in truth a holy place, and we did not know it. Venite, adoremus!" Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

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