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Glimpsing Infinity

“If you held a grain of sand up to the sky at arm’s length, that tiny speck is the size of Webb’s view in this image. Imagine — galaxies galore within a grain, including light from galaxies that traveled billions of years to us!” — @NASAWebb

As the James Webb Space Telescope begins to share images from deep space, doesn’t it feel like we’re glimpsing infinity? We reach deeper into deep space than we’ve ever done, using the most advanced telescope we’ve ever sent into space, and it reveals billions of years of history (if you want to call it that), and yet indicates what we already knew—that it all keeps going further still. That glimpse of infinity reveals how immeasurably small our brief dance in the universe really is.

So why do so many fixate on misery, pettiness and scarcity? The implications of this vastness indicate our smallness, forcing us to either recoil further back into ourselves or tell ourselves fairy tales that overinflated our place and power in the big scheme of things. Alternatively, we might simply accept and celebrate our small part in the infinite universe. I choose door number three, thank you.

In a world with so much conflict, wouldn’t it be something if we all paused a moment and looked up at the universe. Our dance is ever so brief, and it doesn’t matter whether you lean left of center or right of it, the whole ball of wax is infinitesimal. We are indeed stardust—minute specs of life in a vast infinity. Isn’t it extraordinary to be alive to see it? To be a part of it?

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