‘Did you wallk?’ Camp asked when I took my seat at our usual table at our seaside watering hole. 

‘Yes, the weather is perfect, like July, and the shoreline walk to Gibsons Harbour never loses its magic. There is that smoky haze though, like a silky shroud, covering the firmament. It’s probably the smoke from the Alberta fires. Not a good harbinger.

Camp nodded but would not be deterred from his point of interest for the day. ‘I’ve come across an interesting little item the other day,’ Camp said. ‘Astronomers have witnessed the largest explosion in space. AT2021lwx, as they labelled it, was observed to be ten times brighter than any known supernova, the explosions that occur as massive stars die. This large explosive event has been raging for at least three years and is also  

three times brighter than the light that is emitted as stars are devoured by supermassive black holes. The blast is around 8 billion light-years from Earth and thus occurred when the universe was just 6 billion years old.’ 

            ‘I can’t even imagine anything that long ago, that big and that far away,’ I said, shaking my head and you’re talking to a guy who can’t tell when the moon is waning or waxing.’

‘I know. You should figure that out by now but just humour me for a minute and imagine the distance of a1000 km. I’ve driven it in one day. 10 hours behind the wheel.  It seemed like forever. Next try to visualize 10’000 km. Ok, that’s about Vancouver to Istanbul, as the silver bird flies. How about 100’000 km? Now that’s two and a half times around the earth at the equator.  Still doable by humans, maybe even on foot. How about the moon which is 385000 km away. Still imaginable but then we are into dimensions that are not in our toolbox. But yet, we can measure distances by the speed of Light which slips through interstellar space at 300’000 km per second which adds up just short of 10 trillion km per year; one light year. Light takes a second and a third from the moon to the earth, 8 minutes from the sun and 5 ½ hours from Pluto. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to planet earth and is 4.2 light years or 40,208,000,000,000 km away.  Practically in our cosmic back yard. Now think 8 billion light years and it’s hard to believe that this kind of event can even be witnessed and recorded.’

‘All this goes to show how insignificant our little planet is and yet it’s the only home we have and we’re about to burn it down.’

‘That is the ultimate irony. As insignificant we humans are on a cosmic scale, we do think we are the greatest thing ever to see the light of day.’

‘Well Camp, it’s all we got. And being a human being is a fantastic experience, as is all life. And we have yet to find any other life in this great universe but I have no doubt it exists. The laws of probability would point that way. And yet what difference does it make to the price of milk or beer? What would change if we would find other intelligent life forms?’

‘Religions would lose their integrity if they have any left. Suddenly we’re not alone. That could throw some cold water on the beliefs of the supernatural. But be assured the law of probability also says that it is unlikely we will ever encounter any other life form. The universe is just too big and we’re just too small, too short lived; as individuals and apparently as a species as well. A mere blip on the cosmic clock.’

Well, you’re full of good news once again. We might as well enjoy what we have, for as long as we can and look, just on time our beers are empty once again and there is Vicky, quicker than light, at the speed of intuition.

‘You two ready?’ she said, cheerful as a sunny day.

‘We’re born ready,’ Camp said.

1 thought on “Cosmos

  1. 2 comments: to be pedantic, the closest star is our sun, so Proxima Centauri is the second closest. Also, I think of humankind not as being distinct from the universe but as a sentient component of it, such that astronomy is like anatomy, on a grand scale. Both Kant and the Delphic oracle said “Know Thyself!” Global warming is like a local inflammation that will destroy a limb if not treated…


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