photo credit: Darren Flinders, flickr.
One [black hole] was 36 times as massive as the sun, the other 29. As they approached the end, at half the speed of light, they were circling each other 250 times a second.
– excerpt from this New York Times article on gravitational waves.
We celebrate this incident that happened one billion years ago, and yet there have no doubt been millions, if not more, collisions between black holes that we have not witnessed.
The universe is such an amazing, massive place. We humans eek out our lives on the cosmic equivalent of the smallest crystal of salt, in the span of time that it takes to blink. And within the strata of the history of everything that was, is, and will be you and I occupy a layer of sediment thinner than paper. And that perhaps a few billion light-years away, billions of years from now, sentient beings will see a flicker of light in their telescopes or hear the slightest middle-C ping in their gravitational wave measurement systems, and that will be the sum total, the final keystroke, the feathery signature of our planet’s history.
What did Giordano Bruno say to the Inquisition? Your God is too small.
Weep, my fellow human beings. This universe is infinitely spectacular in its vastness; too grandiose for the stale words from thousand-year old books to ever comprehend. Our presence and privilege of consciousness of it are merely a fraction of a fraction of the thinnest ray of light. Weep with joy that for one picosecond in the history of the universe, we are very much alive. And do not fear death–when we return to the earth, we return to the stars. It’s all the same.