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Gravitational Waves and Me

February 12, 2016

On February 11, 2016, the Physics world celebrated the announcement of the detection of gravity waves representing a warping of space-time that was originally predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 in his General Theory of Relativity. The waves detected here on Earth originated in very deep space when two paired black holes merged and coalesced into one with a resulting explosion of energy out into space all traveling at the speed of light. This all happened about 1.3 billion years ago far, far away, and a small (tiny, infinitesimal) part of that radiation was in 2016 detected in a lab in Louisiana and then again 7 milliseconds later in a similar lab in Washington state. This is one more corroboration of Einstein’s theory as part of our “explanation” of the universe.

But do you really comprehend what those words say and mean? What does a human mind do with those words? My imagination tries to picture swirling objects coming together 1.3 billion years ago and the resulting radiation traveling in warped “space-time”, as light does, and eventually hitting detectors on Earth. But the explanations are more properly made not with words, but with the language of mathematical equations, leaving most of us with only the analogies provided by the words and imaginative pictures.  It’s why we humans have artists.

To me this event is one more example of the way the universe has been gradually revealing itself through science to us humans, especially over the past 500 years, and particularly during my own lifetime of the past 93 years. We have moved from a static local world of fixed stars circling round a fixed Earth to a constantly moving and evolving universe including black holes. Plus the amazing evolution of life here on Earth, which includes at this moment in time you and me as integral participants in this continuing cosmic evolution!

This universe’s story has become our new creation story. And in all of it, I see God’s continuing revelation –  just as to the biblical prophets years ago, and now to our scientists.   Or, to use Bishop Spong’s words, I see “that mystery into which we walk in life’s journey.” Reality, as we now see it, is all sacred, all pointing to God.  For me, the creativity, the direction, the ever accelerating motion, the cataclysmic birth and death of stars, the evolution of life – all point to God. The reality in me points to God.

We are always left with wonder-full mystery. No wonder that in addition to mathematical equations, we still need story and art and music and poetry to begin to glimpse that mystery.

Loren Bullock
February 12, 2016 (revised November 12, 2017)


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