Are You There, Universe? It’s Me, Earth

Recently, astronomers observed gravitational waves for the very first time, proving part of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity right: if there was a great astronomical collision, like two black holes, then the gravitational waves would echo throughout the universe, like a ripple in a giant pond.

These gravitational ripples finally reached us from millions and millions of light years away, where the collision actually took place, so we were finally able to officially confirm part of Einstein’s theory.

Now to the common man or woman, this does not seem particularly relevant or exciting unless you’re an astronomy buff. But the truth is actually quite different.

Many big discoveries in astronomy have more to do with us than we realize. Each and every discovery changes how we as members of the human race see the universe we live in.

It’s a sort of ‘big picture’ thinking, which allows for a renewed perspective on the world. If we think of the earth as a pond or tank, then we are all very tiny fish in a very large ocean. That’s why it’s important to be able to understand the different workings of the universe.

“The recent discovery of the gravitational waves predicted 100 years ago by Einstein is one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century,” said Gloria Brown-Simmons, an Adjunct Professor in the Chemistry and Physics Department.

“Our understanding of space and time is fundamental to our being able to forge ahead into the future. The discovery highlights that we are currently in a second ‘Golden Age’ of astronomy and astrophysics,” she continued.

As Brown-Simmons stated, our understanding of the universe is directly correlated to how we move ahead technologically and scientifically. We cannot focus on our own world and problems without first seeing how the large-scale perspective works.

The earth is simply a metaphorical cog in a machine, so it would do us good to have a broader view entirely. The important question for us is this: how do students of the University react to these discoveries, and to what degree?

“We as a planet exist in the universe, so big things that happen out there will most likely reach us eventually”, says Phil Latawiec, a sophomore fine arts student.

Besides the literal examples of gravitational waves passing through and around our planet, the discoveries will reach us one way or another.

We view the universe in a snapshot, as we cannot view the stars above us in real time, since light only travels so fast. This way of observing how far and how soon things will be visible to us has led to astronomers looking deeper into the universe, as to learn more about it and how it works.

Whether or not we pay enough attention, what goes on in the rest of space will eventually find its way to Earth.

“All it takes is one fantastic discovery, and we will make all that back tenfold; if not in money, in knowledge and scientific potential,” Michael Mottola, a junior English student, commented about the merits of space exploration and study.

Whether we care immensely about astronomy or not, there has been nothing but ample reason to pay attention to the big discoveries in space, because in one way or another, it affects even the most regular person.

We pay attention to our own surroundings, so extending that same line of curiosity to our universe allows for even more discovery and advancement.

In an attempt to progress not only through our sciences but also as a species, it would do all of us some good to keep an eye on the stars.