Editorial: Keep asking questions

Black hole image is so much more than just a picture

“I think the moment we stop wondering and stop asking questions about our surroundings, about where we live and our part in it, I think we all start to die off.” –Ken Tapping, astronomer, Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory.

A glowing orange doughnut, surrounded by black. The first-ever image of a black hole.

Big for scientists maybe, but is it going to change everyday life? No. At least not now, though there’s no telling what might come from this discovery in the future.

But that’s not the point. Aside from the sheer triumph of it and confirming that Albert Einstein was right when he was putting together his thoughts on relativity a century ago, this somewhat blurry looking image represents the collaboration of scientists in coming together from around the world.

READ ALSO: Okanagan astronomer talks about the importance of first-ever black hole image

In today’s world, where we are dealing with war, extremism, hatred, oppression, isolationism and more negativity, it’s wonderful to see people can set all that aside and work to a single goal.

It’s a pity politicians don’t seem able to work together the same way.

Looking at that image, it’s hard not to feel a sense of wonder; the universe is such a strange and magnificent place. That emotion is also being shared around the world—class, race, religion all fall aside as we look on with awe.

That black hole represents a human triumph we all share in.

There are going to be some who argue this kind of esoteric science is either meaningless or a waste of time and money. They are wrong.

Partly, they’re wrong because there is no way of telling where any type of research might lead. Even the optical astronomers of a century ago would have never imagined their work, and that of those who followed them would eventually spin off developments in satellite communications technology or medical imaging.

There are countless examples of where pure research has led to practical applications that have changed our lives and societies for the better. But there is a more basic reason it’s important.

Curiosity. That black hole also represents mankind’s need to strive, to know more, to see what’s beyond that next mountain range, to keep pushing forward.

Curiosity is what made the human race what it is. Without that long history of people saying “I wonder…” we would not be where we are.

–Black Press

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