The JWT, no matter how technologically sophisticated and amazing it is, is showing only a tiny fraction of what it could. Shouldn’t it show us GPS-like maps and graphic pictures of travel directions? Here is my vision of the new super-duper images from, the (AI?) enhanced super-telescope.
The JWT (James Webb Telescope) is built on such advanced technology that only a few people actually understand it all, and what it can do. To unfurl it once it had been blasted up to its correct resting place was an amazing feat. But I have to confess that I’m a little underwhelmed by the images we have been served up so far.
First, I probably don’t have the horsepower to understand these images and what they might mean anyway. But I confess to being one of the great unwashed and I want it all served up to me razzle-dazzle in all its glory with absolutely no effort on my part. But so far all I have seen is inexplicable images of what look like gassy fuzzy smudges and blobs.
I know that they may contain a lot, but it’s over my head (mmm, literally.) I think the long-suffering public needs to be shell-shocked, in a good way of course, at the absolute amazingness of the images, to show us how the telescope has been well worth it, and that another dollop would be even better spent.
Instead of seeing lots of indecipherable albeit luminous pictures here’s what I would like to see.
In ye olden days (i.e., classical, medieval) there were still maps of the world, but not much to put on them. So, the cartographers of yore would dress them up to show the likely possible perils that travelers might meet and images of the scenic spots en route.. As in “There be dragons”. I would want the JWT to follow suit.
Galactic Superhighways, yeah! How about the galactic superhighways (remember the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?) that almost certainly (well, probably) connect the biggest cosmological urban centers (i.e., galaxies) in the Universe, and the best short-cuts to avoiding the ginormous traffic jams at rush hour (especially around those supermassive black traffic holes?)
What about the back roads, the big bridges over galaxies that are in a train’s path, and the small ones, including the ones that are just suspended in thin air, so to speak? It would sure be nice to understand how we actually get to travel to the intriguing-looking exoplanets that have so much apparent potential.
What about the slowpokes and slow lanes that prevent us getting there in a lightspeed jiffy? And, as well as showing us the roads and bridges, how about showing us some of the obstacles to getting there? Like the astronomical equivalents of rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, hills, volcanoes and other natural perils, which would of course include the different varieties of fearsome black holes all waiting to gobble up the unwary travelers who stray too close to its maws?
What about the weather? How about the climates that travelers will pass through, including weather maps? How hot or cold will it be on the way so we can bring the right clothing to meet with the aliens when we finally meet them?
We all want to show off ourselves in our finest livery since no doubt the aliens will want to impress us too and we don’t want to look like we’re poor relatives from the galactic boonies (even if we are). We don’t want the methane rain, nitrogen snow, or super-heavy droplets of iron oxide hail to spoil our raiment on such momentous occasions.
Now you might think that this is all very fanciful. Please note I’m only just asking. But a case in point; over the years I’ve read about all this stuff about string theory, which tells us that, if these strings actually exist, they do so in 10, 11 or 26 dimensions. I mean, go figure!
But, whatever, I want to see all the cosmological roads, mountains, obstacles and so on within the dimensions they actually exist in so I can hack the GPS tracks to get to where I want to go without missing something because I’m in the wrong dimension.
Because some of these will probably be those wormholes, we’ve all been watching in Star Trek that give us these amazing short cuts to get to other galaxies without having to be put into suspended animation for a million or a billion years before we can actually get there. That seems reasonable to anyone, including me, who has only a tightly limited life span of maybe some 3 score years and 10.
If the JWT can overlay these dimensions over the myriad touristic points of interest in the Universe (our’s at least), it’s not just to show us how to get there. It will highlight to me a universe that in some ways resembles a terrestrial cave system together with caves where the locals might be hanging out, tunnels between the caves, and maybe where we might find alien cities, nicely protected from potentially marauding aliens like us Earthlings.
Great stuff to put in the TripAdvisor or Frommer’s travel books to plan the next family vacation following the dearth of travel during the Great Pandemic of 2020. After all, we want everyone to go there, not just the scientists, astronauts and politicians. Isn’t space for the hoi-polloi too?
You might think all this is unrealistic but get this. We already have maps of the universe that show the local temperatures (check out the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Map, or WMAP conducted by NASA). It’s been around for a number of years.
Piece of cake for the JWT astronomers to overlay this with the cosmological topologies that they have already generated. Climate and weather are the topic du jour in every self-respecting galactic civilization that ever lived, so we have that box checked.
All of this might be too fanciful for many, but I’m interested in it, and maybe there’s a couple of others out there with similar weird interests. If JWT could cook up some of it, I would definitely be up for hiking to the nearest IMAX cinema (in its full 10, 11 or 26 dimensions of course) to check out the scenery. It might just be a lot more edifying for me and my family than what we’ve been seeing on Earth lately.
James Webb Telescope, cosmic microwave background, string theory, cave systems in space, wormholes
The James Webb Telescope is incredible technology but the images we’re getting are so boring. Here’s how to tart it up to get us all excited about an out-of-this world venture.
A wild ride on the other side!
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