For some reason in 1996, basically with only a desire to know more,
Astronomers pointed the Hubble telescope into
Deep space, towards a dark patch,
Close to the constellation known as the Big Dipper,
At a point no bigger than a grain of sand,
And waited to see what they would find.
Dark space and a complete
Absence of visuals was what they expected.
Instead what they got was like the scene at a Metro
Station during the rush hour: 3,000 galaxies
Jostling for space and
Elbowing one another so as to make room for themselves.
It was almost as if they were in a hurry to get somewhere
And hadn't a moment to spare.
Each was with a retinue of hundreds of billions of stars
To command at will.
All this in a place, which appeared
Blank and devoid of everything.
This brings up the question whether emptiness actually exists?
Can we find an absence of matter in any direction?
Space is there, for that is what galaxies move around in.
Or is it all just one great expanse of time,
Eternity stretching out in all directions,
North, south, east and west?
But the cardinal directions mean nothing out in space.
There is no up or down, either.
One is prompted to say, 'Such is life!'
Such is life, indeed.
But that would be facile, for we have yet to detect life elsewhere.
All we can find are more and more potentialities
In the form of billions of habitable planets.
Given the laws of probability,
Life must exist out there somewhere.
But are these laws valid all over the universe?
Every way we turn, we find the laws of
Physics and Mathematics
Being hard pressed to come up with meanings.
Once again, they ventured forth in 2004.
This time, they directed the telescope
At an area close to the constellation of Orion
And found over 10, 000 galaxies.
These galaxies are racing away from us;
In some cases, at speeds greater than that of light.
(For so long, we had felt nothing could travel
Faster than light and here we have entire
Galaxies moving faster than the eye can see
Or the mind formulates a thought.)
By combining these results,
Astronomers constructed a model.
They found that there are over
A 100 billion galaxies in the universe.
(Which actually means nothing,
As the number in itself is inexpressible,
Signifying infinity and infinity is merely a concept.)
We pointed one of the most powerful telescopes
Ever built by human beings and found
That we are less than a grain of sand
In a dry and barren desert.
Yet the spirit does not bend,
Even when confronted with speeds greater than that of light
And gravity stronger than that of a million Suns.
And darkness does not daunt,
Despite being immeasurable and without end,
Nor does the space-time continuum and
The complete lack of any absolute values.
Even where Mathematics does not work, is irrelevant;
And light refuses to move,
As in gigantic black holes;
We follow through,
Our feeble brains trying to grapple
With that which we can
Never hope to comprehend.
We realize that our five senses are not enough:
We need another five or six or even more,
Merely to be able to ask questions,
The right questions,
Those that matter and are worth taking
The trouble to delve into.
Closer to home:
We wonder at the 46 chromosomes within,
Twenty-three each from mom and dad,
And seek to predict the divine key
That dictates their functioning.
There is a pattern, to be sure,
There is always a pattern in all we do.
How do we become what we are?
And what is it that governs
Our understanding of all there is?
Are we merely wasting time,
Measuring that which cannot
And does not need to be measured
Or neatly catalogued?
Does it matter, is it worthwhile,
To take pleasure in the infinitesimal
Moment our lives inhabit
In endless space and time?
Need we wonder and eventually
Hope to emulate speeds exceeding that of light
Or distances, we can never hope to measure,
Except in the form of paradigms.
(Distances in space are measured in light years,
Or the time it would take for light to
Travel in one Julian year: 9.461e+15 metres
Or 5.8786 trillion miles)
What if time does slow down at speeds
Approaching that of light?
What happens when speeds
Become greater than that of light?
Does time stop altogether?
If time stops,
Does it mean nothing will happen?
No actions or events or anything else that
Makes up our existence?
Time stops for us when we watch
A dear one depart or a new one arrive.
Time becomes endless
While rushing a loved one to the hospital
In an ambulance;
Each moment stretches
Across our lives interminably.
Does it matter what my DNA is,
If medicines cannot heal me and surgeons
Fail to remove that which troubles me?
Probably it does
But doctors are not quite sure
How to use it to our advantage.
I watch in awe the simulated formation of
A black hole and wonder how the one
Within me will be resolved?
All light dissipates as it approaches me
And I subject it to scrutiny.
All hopes, faith, desires, affection, assurance,
My very sense of being
Disappears into my own sub-cosmic black hole,
An abyss nothing can ever fill.
Is this all there is:
Black holes and supernova
Red giants and white dwarves,
And a universe that will one day implode?
Nothing to look forward to?
No rewards in an afterlife?
Usually, it's the answers one finds difficult.
All sorts of people ask all sorts of questions
You and I can't answer, or at least, wouldn't like to.
Here, it's the question that's difficult to frame.
What should we ask?
What is the mystery?
Confronted by immense loneliness ,
One is unable to come up with a suitable question.
One can't just say: What's it all about?
Where does it start and where does it end?
That's being much too naive,
As even a child would remark.
'Where' may turn to 'what'.
What is it that starts and
What is that will end at some place,
Time or space?
Or something that combines them both
But leaves out that which we are all seeking for.
We stare heavenwards and rub our eyes,
Dumbfounded and speechless.
There is a question out there somewhere,
Just waiting to be asked.
Once it reveals itself,
We can all begin
To search for answers.
At present all we do is,
Try to find out more about everything
And learn we know
Much too little about what we were so sure of
A short while ago.
It's always been this way:
So sure of one thing,
We turn to another,
Only to realize how wrong
We were about the first
And absolutely clueless about the other.
We can calculate to nano-measure, weights and distances,
Our life spans and those of other animals.
The rest defies speculation.
We ponder and search
Amongst the stars for a sign
Till we arrive at their origins,
Rather than those of the problems
We were seeking solutions for.
Are we simply debris on a large rock,
Shaped by gravity and the particles left over
From the formation of the sun?
The kind of life we find beneath stones
At the bottom of our gardens
Or in some desolate corner of a public park:
Something no one wants to even look at
And from which we turn away in disgust.
Centipedes, snails, slugs,
Wallowing in timelessness until someone
Accidentally steps on them.
How would you like squirming, slimy things
Moving about on your front porch
Or in your rock garden,
Regardless of the levels of culture these
Organisms may claim to possess?
From nothing to nothing,
Dust to dust.
Is this all there is:
Stretching back over eons
Before the birth of our parent star?
I beg to differ, for rocks are rocks
And planets, planets
Because you and I exist,
Have eyes to see
And minds to visualize with.
Perhaps, there is something in the myths of creation.
Maybe someone did take time out
To create the universe we live in
And all that is there in it.
Let them point the James Webb telescope
(when it is finally put into orbit)
At every star in every constellation or dark gap in between
And find even more galaxies racing away from us
Till the end of space and time.
It won't alter a thing.
Stars will remain stars
And planets, planets
Only so long
As you and I exist
And care enough to think about them.