The space-based telescopes keep making amazing discoveries. The latest is the Hubble space telescope’s identification of the most distant galaxy ever detected — a galaxy that is more than 13 billion light years distant from Earth. That means that the light we are seeing now has traveled for 13 billion years to reach our space. In fact, the light we are seeing from that galaxy emanates from stars that blazed only 600 million years after the Big Bang. Those stars almost certainly exist no longer, having long ago gone supernova or turned into one of the other stellar objects that are created when stars die. In that sense, the Hubble telescope is a real-life time machine that allows us to peer into the distant past.
The Hubble space telescope
Astronomers will study the new discovery with great interest, because it may help to provide answers to some very provocative questions. What was the life cycle of early stars, whose intense heat produced the heavy element “star stuff” (to use Carl Sagan’s phrase) of which our universe is made? How did the earliest galaxies form? Why is light from such galaxies visible through the “fog” of hydrogen that should have resulted from the Big Bang?
We can expect more amazing discoveries along these lines as new ground-based and space-based telescopes using new technology come on line and begin to probe the heavens.
In the modern cell phone and smart phone world, can pollsters know with any assurance that they have reached an appropriate sample of voters? For years, pollsters relied on land line telephones to conduct their surveys. Recently, however, many Americans have dropped their land line phones as a nuisance and unnecessary expense. In 2007, nearly 13 percent of American households had no land line phone. By 2008, that number had jumped to 20 percent and it has only increased since then as millions more — including Kish and me — have gone totally wireless.
So, in these days leading up to Election Day, let’s not pay too much attention to the polls and their competing results. The only poll that really matters is the one that will occur on November 2, and all registered voters — be they wireless Gen Xers or land line fogies — will have an equal opportunity to be counted.