Looking Out, Looking In
I feel that Stuart’s decision to spend the afternoon with us is symbolic of his final acceptance of me after all these years. He’s been married to my friend Sarah for twenty-five years, helped raise her sons after their father’s death, but has always been suspicious of me. We have, however, spent the afternoon trading quips and now he is trying to show us the stars.
Sarah’s messing with the connection between the Smart TV and Stuart’s computer may serve to disunite their long union. He is frantically trying to undo whatever she has done so he can show us his video of the Grand Design Spiral Galaxy as well as a number of globular clusters .
Once he succeeds in showing it to us, our reactions to this amazing display are varied. He explains that the globular cluster comprised of hundreds of thousands of stars that is attached to our universe is perhaps the core of an old galaxy.
The present day galaxies he shows us are designated by a capital M followed by a number. Our reactions to this amazing display are varied. One of the galaxies looks like fireworks to my friend’s oldest son. I think M3 looks like the venation on a leaf and the other son sees M5 as a flower with the stem cut off. In the middle of M51 there is probably a black hole, Stuart tells us.
“Where does something go when it vanishes into a black hole?” I ask. “Matter can’t be created or destroyed, right?” That’s not especially true, says Stuart, who as a scientist is not accustomed to our level of ignorance about the workings of the Universe.
Nonetheless, he is patient in his attempts to show us the wider world, and this visit, I have begged him for a second nighttime viewing. The first time he showed me the world of our universe in his high powered telescope, I was amazed, feeling as thought I had perhaps had a new religious experience. As it is without, so it is within, I thought. Is there a black hole at our center? Is it going to swallow us? We are like two opposite ends of the spectrum, Stuart looking out and me looking within, each of us with a spot to fill that is suddenly a speck in a complex world.