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The Universe Began on Monday Afternoon

The Universe Began on Monday Afternoon.A large telescope is on its way to take a look at how the universe began.  It took 30 years to get such a project off the ground, which tempts me to compare it with the model plane my pal Ronnie and I constructed out of balsa wood in just 2 days. Admittedly, we never managed to get ours off the ground at all, but I'm just saying.

Incidentally, Ronnie's father, Owen McCabe, was a drummer with the famous Jimmy Shand Band, who recorded more tracks than the Beatles and Elvis combined.  Jimmy's accordion seemed more like a second chest at times, especially since it was covered in buttons.

The James Webb Space Telescope hopes to capture light still coming our way from the time the first stars and galaxies formed.  In that respect, it is really a modern version of a seebackroscope, except for the fact that it cost 10 billion dollars and wouldn't fit into your jacket pocket.  

david aitkenWhat intrigues me is the possibility of the glimpses of history it may provide en route.  Will we finally be able to see what size Napoleon was?  Establish the fate of the crew of the Marie Celeste?  And look -- are those Martians down there, on that red planet?  Whatever happened to them?

With this new larger-than-Hubble (x100) spyglass, part of which is the size of a tennis court, could we get near enough to observe Wordsworth swooning over a bunch of daffodils, or the surprised looks on the faces of the dinosaurs as they caught sight of that asteroid approaching?  Perhaps we'll see Tolstoy agonising over names for his new novel? -- "War and Prejudice? Vodka? Punishment? Peace?"  No wonder he rewrote it several times, daunting as that must have been.  At least I never suffer from writer's cramp, except mentally.

The truly fascinating end of the journey might be the moment just before everything started with a bang.  The sun wouldn't exist yet, so the universe would begin at night.  Will the onboard screen go totally blank, or show constant buffering, like BBC iPlayer when it can't find a programme?  With possibly an 'interlude' picture of a pottery wheel and the disquieting words, "Please Be Patient.  The Universe Should Begin Shortly."  (Should?  Interlude?) 

And once we have discovered how everything came into existence (my guess would be on a Monday afternoon) can we turn Mr Webb's space telescope around and look in the opposite direction, to examine what the future will be like for our present universe?  Will it also end with a bang as we whimper?  Frankly, wherever it ends, I don't think I want to go there.  I'm booking a seat on the next rocket headed for the past.  And I won't be looking behind me, seebackroscope or not.            


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