Monday, June 15, 2009

Herschel has opened the hatch! June 15.

so exciting! 

And here is what we can see now May 2012

Herschel low infrared image of Cygnus X 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Herschel and Planck launched 14.5.

The long trip to the orbit
Source ESA

On May 14, 2009, the Ariane 5 was successfully launched with its 1.9 billion euro load from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana at 1312 GMT. See ESA web page for details about this remarkable launch.

The flight of the Ariane 5 lasted half an hour and the two satellites are now on their way to their positions 1.5 million kilometers from planet Earth. The travel to their destination will take between two and three months so Europaean Space Agency (ESA) scientist will be trying to hear the first signals in July or early August this summer.

If no signal is heard --- banish the thought!

These two satellites are collecting electromagnetic radiation to let physicists probe the origins of the Universe. The data they collect and send to Earth may revolutionize its inhabitants knowledge of the first stages after the Big Bang by studying the "oldest light" of cosmic microwave radiation and the infrared wavelengths of light under extreme cold conditions.

It is very interesting to read BBC science news how Professor George Efstathiou from Cambridge University, UK, said

It's possible we could find a signature from before the Big Bang; or it's possible we could find the signature of another Universe and then we'd have experimental evidence that we are part of a multi-verse.

Multiverse indeed

May the distant signals of these two satellites be heard loud and clear!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Christ the true Light

Golden cross with Greek words Light and Life on it

It is important to make clear that the first light of creation that filled the universe is not the light that the Gospel of John and other New Testament books talk about in connection with Christ. Created light was made by the Word of God.

The gospel begins with words that do bring to mind the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-14 KJVA

Genesis tells that the first word of Creation where "Let there be light!"Genesis 1:3

And indeed, the Big Bang was quickly followed by brilliant light as things began to happen in extreme heat and energy and photons, those amazing wave-particles, began to fly around at the speed of light.

But the Gospel of John does not refer to created light that fills the universe and makes us wonder what it is. The True light of Christ is not made of photons.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Apostle Paul writes about the Light where Christ dwells

I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting.
Amen.1 Timothy 6:13-16 KJVA

Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The matter of eternal matter

Little Boy
Early practical application of theoretical nuclear physics

When Little Boy was dropped to Hiroshima by B-29 Enola Gay on Monday August 6, 1945 it became crystal clear to the entire world that Albert Einstein's famous equation was correct and very relevant. The second bomb to Nagasaki August 9 was perhaps an overkill. For Little Boy demonstrated the relationship between matter and energy in a very concrete way wiping out 140.000 human lives. The 80.000 killed Japanese in Nagasaki just proved that point again. There is a powerful relation between matter and energy and this power can be used to build the most destructive weapon known to humanity. To release the power of nuclear fission to kill people and anything else that lives.

Eternal matter and energy
The idea in some people's minds is that these two, matter and energy are eternal.

This was a pretty statement when scientists understood cosmos in late 19th century; universe is a rather boring cold static state of matter and energy ruled by Newtonian celestial mechanics and with plenty of cold dusty distance between celestial objects. The whole thing was estimated to be about 100.000 light years across.

Good old Bible was a bit lonely in saying that there was a beginning and there will be an end and new beginning.

After the King of the Hill, Edwin Hubble, used big Hooker on Mt Wilson and found out the existence of deep space, galaxies and red shift and Einstein challenged Newton in early 20th century things started to move in scientific cosmology. Astrophysics developed into a fiercely dynamic field of study. Nothing boring out there.

The theory of the Cosmic Atom or Big Bang was developed on the basis of Einstein's theory of general relativity and the radically new understanding of gravity combined with the hard facts seen by the astronomers and their mighty telescopes.

But still in the 1950'ies there were serious cosmologists who wanted to maintain the fundamental equilibrium of eternal matter and energy in a cosmos that has no beginning and no end. For example, the famed British astronomer Fred Hoyle was one of them.

With increasingly more accurate evidence and the development of telescopes that observed other wavelengths below and above visible light, especially with the evolution of radio telescopes and with the discovery of microwave radiation in the deep space that is consistent with the Big Bang theory, representatives of alternative cosmologies were pushed to the defensive and are today a small but important minority. Important minority, because these scientists are using their minds to figure out alternatives to the widely accepted Big Bang theory. As we have seen, widely accepted theories are favourite targets of young scientists looking for fame and great new discoveries!

The scientific belief in a Dot
However, there is at least one popular way to keep that dear equilibrium of eternal matter and energy so important to materialistic atheists since the days of Democritus and his atoms.

We can think and try to calculate an initial state where all the matter and energy in current universe is held in that single famous little dot of the initial state of cosmos. We can say that it was all there in that dot, in some kind of almost impossible to study overheated porridge of strings or other nuclear building elements, known or assumed. And all this pre-existing matter and energy was released in one mighty bang and cosmos started to build hydrogen, helium, deuteronium, lithium and other fundamental light atoms by anonymous laws of nature that just somehow exist. For otherwise everything would just be one stupid cloud of lifeless hydrogen.

The forces of gravity cause the formation of stars in which the longer process of nuclear physics create carbon. And voila! also we humans come into existence after some 13 billion years, about five million years ago in Earth time as chance products of blind matter and energy obeying the anonymous laws we detect in nature.

In other words, the intial zero point was not after all a zero but a point that held the entire matter and energy of the universe in some different form that is as yet essentially unknown to modern science. A split second later things come cozy and we can start to use our heads to calculate proportions of hydrogen to helium and follow up the creation of world as we know it second by second.

Eternal matter and energy just in another assumed format.

Well, perhaps so. Research and thinking continues with increasing power because by studying the fundamental elements of Creation we humans can develop even more destructive weapons to destroy other humans and gain world power. Politicians are not afraid to invest billions of dollars and euros to this noble goal. So that your hated neighbour human on this planet does not find the supergun first and force you to be his or her slave.

This is not a cynical view of scientists doing enormously expensive research on basic physics and cosmology. I greatly admire their honesty and curiosity of reality. This is a cynical view of the ultimate motives of those who fund this basic research remembering Einstein, Los Alamos and the end of the Second World War not so long ago. We all know that a bigger and more destructive Little Boy that that which destroyed the people of Hiroshima may be hidden there in those strings and hadrons.

It is also very important to realize that religious belief is not a guarantee of proper behaviour and that both non-religious and religious people may have second thoughts about releasing the power of sun over the Empire of Sun on August 6, 1945.


I would like to underline, however, that the Biblical view that God created the universe with His Word and that visible was created from invisible is not all that stupid as some materialistic atheists would like us to think including Richard Dawkins and his smiling buses in London City.

In fact, creation from invisible is a valid alternative to the old maxims of materialism about the eternity and divine wisdom of matter. For modern science is surprisingly moving towards the direction of information that is present in all that exists. According to these scientists and thinkers matter and energy are just incidents in this enormous field of information that is manifest in all nature, not just in the DNA.

It is a fact that science had to give up the dear and widely accepted theory that space is static and eternal. The nasty little facts observed in the nature that did not fit with this theory proved that there indeed is a beginning for universe and probably an end too, an initial and a final state.

We can add to this "as the Hebrew Bible has maintained since ancient times".

Natural sciences may also have to give up the dear and widely accepted theory that matter and energy are eternal.

We may think or indeed even believe, that there was no assumed zero point with all the now existing matter and energy of the universe squeezed out of time and space into something really odd and beyond the limits of science.

We may believe as it is written that in the beginning God created matter and energy with His Word. This Word is not just abstract thinking by an invisible Creator but active saying, formulating of commands and laws that contains and controls the amazing information we see everywhere in the deep structures of nature.

There was not a random accidental explosion of some overheated particle soap that after 13 billion years somehow formed us as a side product and made us conscious of the universe and able to figure it out.

Instead, there was a completely orderly controlled explosion with amazing highly detailed information on the tiniest and on the largest dimensions, deep thinking that painted hadrons with colors and gave shape to the existing matter from basic nuclear legos and controls energy with strict law and order. Personal God who also wants us people He made to obey strict laws and orders in our life which is not at all random or product of chance processes but His masterwork in one little corner of the universe.

Intelligent Design does not necessarily create faith

However, even if objective experimental and theoretical science one day possibly agrees that there is no eternal matter and energy but eternal wisdom and amazing information everywhere in the origins of the universe, even then belief in personal God the Creator remains a matter of faith as it is today and has always been.

For God is invisible and people do not learn to know him personally through knowledge. They never did and never will and tend to blaspheme Him and think that since they understand something about creation they are as wise or wiser than our Creator.

This basic human denial of God and rejection of Him is hardcoded in the Word of God who was crucified by religious people, by His people using Roman political and military authority in the process:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Romans 1:18-23

Fundamental Theology
Modern theologians are in general not going to try to mess up your calculations with matters of faith. So study Creation with all your might and with the strictest rules of logic and mathematics. Many of us are listening what you tell us and try to integrate the knowledge with what we believe - this is called Fundamental Theology. It is a branch of Systematic Theology and has nothing to do with Biblical fundamentalism and the strange ideas of creationism intimately bound to it.

Many of us theologians realize that we are in no position to use earthly power of the church to silence you as we did to Galileo and some still try to do to Darwin. However painful the truth to our dear thinking processes and religious belief systems is we need to learn to evaluate it and humble search for truth.

We are amazed together with you by the visible light that has been seen now by humans from over 13 billion years ago with the smartNASA's Swift.

And we are amazed by the information, order and depth of thinking that modern science is demonstrating in the most fundamental particles and processes of the nature.

We are amazed by the light of Creation made ever so wonderful by human search for knowledge but ultimately a matter of faith to the personal God of Israel.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

In the beginning

Cosmic atom (Georges Lemaître) is in some ways better expression than Big Bang (Fred Hoyle) because the study of the origins of the largest things known to man, galaxies and supergalaxies and entire cosmos, is actually study of the smallest things known to man - cosmology and astrophysics of early universe are essentially nuclear physics.

Initial state
Scientists have figured out the mathematics from the first milliseconds on but before that, in the beginning, defies science.

Was everything in a dot? What kind of dot and from where that dot??

Since there is no matter, no energy, nothing, Positivism and Logical Positivism tell us that we have no language to say anything meaningful about the initial state. Some say that there was nothing at all - but we have no ability to comprehend a state where there is nothing at all. It defies the structures wired into our brains.

Bible says that there was someone, the same One who is much later called the God of Israel.

Take a few good educated guesses: Hartle-Hawking initial state, string landscape, brane inflation, string gas cosmology, the ekpyrotic universe.

Things are not made at all easier to science by the realization that only about four percent of the energy density in the universe is visible by radiation. 22% is the rest is some strange hypothetical dark matter that we feel only by its gravitational effect. And a whopping 74% of the rest of the universe is dark energy, whatever it is. Or some even stranger component distributed diffusely in the space that we currently have no idea about.

Surely, CERN accelerator and FERMI accelerator and other fancy instruments humanity is able to build with enormous sums of money will bring much more information about the earliest universe.

So today scientists do not really know what most of the universe is made of. They have beautiful theories about dark matter and dark energy that we are unable to observe directly and intensive research goes on. Some day we will know more. But far behind us are those happy days of human optimism and faith in almighty Science when all explaining Newtonian physics and a small nice universe was known to us - or at least would soon be. That cultural and scientific era of optimism was crushed by us humans ourselves in the First World War.

So ... the astrophysicist and the cosmologist has most advanced tools of exploration to study that small fraction of the universe that is visible to us through some sort of radiation. The rest they examine in their brilliant minds with highest level of mathematical thinking.

But the zero moment, the initial state, seems to be even beyond our thinking.

after the Beginning

Plank epoch
was not a very long epoch. In our clocks it lasted for
0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds.

Before you have counted the digits in that number (43) Planck epoch is already ancient history.

"If supersymmetry is correct, then during this time the four fundamental forces — electromagnetism, weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force and gravitation — all have the same strength, so they are possibly unified into one fundamental force." (quote)

So scientists are not all that far from the Beginning. And yet they are very far from it.

In fact, zero moment seems to be beyond scientific exploration and something that we cannot comprehend with our brains. We are creatures and find it hard to even imagine when there is nothing created and time itself does not exist.

So we wish the scientist great success in solving these most fundamental issues.

And we believe.

We believe according to the Bible that there was nothing visible. We do not know if there was something but we do believe that there was someone.

Everything was One.

His people, the Jews, insist on telling the world that also today He is One.

And the Christians have pretty strong writings by Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the King of Israel:

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear".
Heb 11:3 KJVA

That someone has made Himself known to us as God of Israel whom the Christians call the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who were all present before the creation of the world.

And cannot be studied scientifically.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GRB 090423

GRB 090423 photographed by Gemini Observatory

The exploding star GRB 090423 was detected by NASA's Swift space telescope on 23 of April 2009.

It has red shift of 8.2 which translates into the distance of 13.035 billion light-years. This makes it the most distant and oldest star ever observed by us humans.

Light began to travel from the massive explosion when the entire universe was only about 630 million years old counting from the Beginning.

Swift Gamma Ray Burst telescope. NASA

Swift was launched into orbit by NASA in 2004. Is is a very smart instrument. It has three telescopes. One of them is just a sensor, an Alerter. It senses the massive gamma rays that come towards earth as a burst from exploding stars. The entire satellite swiftly turns towards the source of the radiation aiming both the X ray and the ultraviolet/visible light telescopes at the same exact point. Swift also alerts ground stations around the Earth that are participating in the program and they also move automatically towards the source of the massive gamma ray burst GRB.

After the warning wave of GRB light coming from the star may be visible for some days only and then dies out forever. There is no time to be wasted.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Superman - pseudo-Messiah from space

Classic Superman. Warner Brothers
The character was born 1932

The fictional cartoon character Superman has become one of the hallmarks of modern Western civilization. Superman was created by Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and Joseph Shuster (1914-1992) in 1932. Today surprisingly many people know that Clark Kent, a humble newspaper man in Daily Planet, has romantic interest in Lois Lane. We are also aware of the horrible dangers of cryptonite to our beloved hero whose adventures are the more amazing the better movie special effects get.

In some sense Superman is a Western figure because there is something in his history that resembles the story of Jesus in the Bible.

As the story develops from comic book to other, from movie to the next one, we have learned about the humble parents who are taking care of this boy who arrived from the space, from elsewhere, and whose specialty is not so well known even to himself at young age. These "Joseph and Mary" take loving care of him but somehow he is different. And off he goes, from the telephone boot to the crashing airplane, the sinking ship, the train on colliding course, the falling child and voila! people are so happy and we all feel very satisfied that the catastrophe was avoided thanks to his X-ray vision.

Superman must have a mighty villain or otherwise the story would not be so interesting. Almost a devil like character capable of doing much evil is much more effective than some anti-Superman with equal powers and mischief in its mind.

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004) as Superman

Christoper Reeve (1952-2004) was in many ways the perfect Superman for the movies and most of us connect him to the character in the backs of our minds. His charisma, innocence and good looks combined to make a perfect mach with the cartoon character who was originally rather more robust and masculine radiating physical superpower.

After the riding accident Christopher Reeve
wanted to help others with spinal injuries

Theologically thinking, that wonderful person, in some ways the epitome of what is admirable in humans and their imagination, Christopher Reeve alias Superman sitting on wheelchair is a reality check to us all.

God is not detached from this world as we so often imagine in hope or despair depending on our relationship with Him.

There is a line that should not be crossed and need not be crossed.

So I write in great sadness about the riding accident that broke Christopher's back and put him in wheel-chair. And I write with great respect about his work after the fatal accident for the good of others suffering like he did.

de mortuis nihil nisi bene
I do not blame the actor Christopher Reeve. I blame those who wrote the script and made that Superman movie where the hero brings Lois Lane back to life by rotating fast around the planet causing time to go back.

This scene crossed a definite red line between fun and imagination and the reality of life and death. We people may not take it so seriously. Movie what movie.

It seems to me - and this is strictly my personal opinion - that God took rather seriously that humans are depicting an imaginary hero almost like His only Son.

John Lennon (1940-1980)

What was John Lennon missing? He had been given everything and more than a guy from Liverpool could ever hope. Money, fame, admiration and great future.

Why did he have to go and say "We are more popular than Jesus"?

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)

And Kurt Cobain (1967-1994). After MTV Nirvana unplugged was there a young popular musician more respected than he? Why did he have to do that video that is perhaps the harshest mockery of Jesus dying on the cross created by our modern pop culture - a culture not exactly known for piety and respect for cultural values?

There is a thin but clear line that should not be and need not be crossed.

Word of God
Jesus was very clear about this. Let them mock me and call me crazy and a nuisance and a Samaritan or whatever. I do not seek my own glory and honor among the people of this Earth.

My Father does.

Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

John 8:48-50 KJVA

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sir Fred Hoyle - Black cloud

Space cloud caught in a strong gravity field
Hubble telescope image

The innovative and inspiring science fiction novel Black cloud (1957) by the famed British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 - 2001) is also of great theological interest.

The subject he is talking about in this book concerns humans encountering superior intelligence.

In this case the superior intelligence is non-organic. A huge cloud is on the regular round in deep space and comes near our sun to get some additional gasoline to energy engines. This cloud imagined by Fred Hoyle happens to be intelligent.

And it is huge. So huge that its shadow is causing major distress to the inhabitants of planet Earth.

Desperate means are needed and a station is set up to communicate with the Cloud and to make it realize that all life upon Earth is about to be extinguished because of its presence. Why not to go to some other star that is not nourishing higher life-forms?

Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 - 2001)

The great theological point of interest in this fabulous imagination of Hoyle is the discussion between the man sitting on the station communicating with the highly intelligent Cloud. The intensity and speed of the communication causes our man to get brain fewer that nearly costs his life. His mind is not built to talk with the speed and power of a huge interstellar Cloud with its system of thinking.

The book ends happily, the Cloud gets the message and moves away not to destroy life on that 3rd rock from the sun it hardly notices.

Fred Hoyle was an atheist. But this book is a very challenging view and trip of imagination how it might be to meat a supreme being.

For the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle saviour of humanity is an intelligent man who can talk sense to the threatening force.

Personally I think Hoyle's Black Cloud is an excellent introduction to Biblical hermeneutics and to the concepts of revelation.

God of Israel is way bigger than that black cloud imagined by Hoyle. We cannot see Him without dying on the spot.

But He has found a way to speak to the humanity softly and in a way that is not destructive in intellectual content and requirements of brain power. Rather in a soft and simple way that even a mentally ill or handicapped person can understand and loves to hear.

The Word of God lifts and does not destroy with the glory of Eternal God.

And yet - unlike that intelligent Cloud of imagination, the real God intervenes with life on Earth in very powerful way and expresses His will towards the tiny inhabitants of this planet who can all be destroyed just by a single little asteroid falling on its surface.

For He has made them.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
Isa 42:1-6 KJVA

Herschel and Planck to be launched soon, May 6 postponed

European Space Agency (Esa) has been working for twenty years on the Herschel telescope looking for infra-red light. It is been shipped to Kourou spaceport in South America to be launched to its orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket.

Pretty high it will go - 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

In the same rocket will also be the Planck telescope that will look for micro-wave radiation.

That launch is going to cause some sleepless nights in Paris. London, Bruxelles, Berlin and elsewhere. Twenty years of work on Herschel plus the Planck with a joint value of 1.7 billion Euro.

One point seven billion Euro.

Just to study radiation from the Big Bang (and some other stuff of interest to astronomers)

James Webb. the Big One, in 2010 or so

Hubble is looking at visible light.

Herschel will be looking at infra-red light that is below the wavelength of our eyes.

Planck will be looking at microwaves.

Inspecting Herschel telescope. Courtesy of Esa.

British astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) discovered infra-red light and the 3.5 meter telescope is named in his honour. Not one spot of dust is allowed in this surface and in the highly accurate instrument for which a distant 60 W electric lamp would be like a burning furnace.

Inspecting the Planck telescope. Courtery of Esa.

The very high-tech microwave telescope is named in honour of German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) - one of the key scientists in the modern revolution of Theoretical Physics.

There is a very educational and clear page in BBC web site giving in depth details about the goals and methods of the Herschel project.


Let us think the worst and something blows those huge tanks of highly flammable liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into smithereens during the launch at Kourou.

On the other hand, let us not even imagine that!

it is really one shot chance and the risks are enormous.

ESA has now informed that the launch planned for May 6 2009 has been postponed because of anomalies in the Ariane 5 rocket. They decided to check it again.

Wise move

Hubble telescope

Hubble telescope - amazing technical eye of the humanity
turned towards the space

Hubble telescope is the brightest and most accurate eye for visible light humanity has ever aimed at the deep space.

In this blog we have discussed the first telescope constructed by those smart Dutch people and then by Galileo Galilei in 1609. For the first time humanity saw the four moons of Jupiter, the hazy stuff around Saturn and those black dots on the Sun that caused so much problems to Galilei with the christian Church.

We have taken a look at the construction of Mount Wilson Observatory were the biggest telescope of its time, the Hooker, was aimed at the sky above California and how Edwin Hubble realized that those nebulae are galaxies far away as marked by the Cepheids of Henrietta Swan Leavitt. He also confirmed and calculated the shift towards red that Georges Lamaitre had used to formulate the theory of the Cosmic Atom, Fred Hoyle's Big Bang.

So it is proper that the wonderful instrument, a telescope that orbits the earth over the atmosphere, was named after Edwin Hubble.

Hubble telescope has provided such a wealth of information to the study of the universe that it will take long time to digest it all.

It is nearing the end of its useful life. New, even more powerful space telescopes are on the way, but they will not take away from the glory of the first one, the pioneer that has revolutionized our knowledge of the deep space and the origins of the universe.

Hubble has its own famous web pages called the Hubblesite. You can get from there wonderful wallpapers to your computer that make you wonder the Creation and - hopefully - praise its Creator, the God of Israel.

Stars are born, they grow old and die
Hubble has given us unforgettable images of the universe

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sometimes it takes a Sherlock Holmes to figure it out


Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go on a camping trip. After a good day of walking they retire for the night and go to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend.

Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.

I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes replies Watson.

And what do you deduce from that?

Watson ponders for a minute. Well,

Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.

Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.

Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.

Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe.

But what does it tell you, Holmes?

Holmes is silent for a moment.

My dear Watson, he says, someone has stolen our tent.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jesus: salvation is of the Jews

United Nations headquarters New York
where the nations come together

Today 20th of April 2009 the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gave a speech in the United Nations Durban Review conference in Geneva 20-24.4. 2009. This international meeting is an evaluation of progress made after the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

Tomorrow 21th of April Israel mourns the six million during the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. The six million that President Ahmadinejad thinks is a myth created for political purposes by the Zionist enemy of the human race.

Today is therefore a good day to remember the extremely powerful words of the Man of Galilee to a woman from Samaria:

Salvation is of the Jews
John 4:22 KJVA

Words that are often forgotten by Christians and Muslims alike with such tragic consequences.


What on earth do Jews have to do with the faith in God the Creator?

It is surprising how many intelligent people discuss God and creation of the universe without mentioning the Jewish people even once. As if this was a philosophical and theoretical issue to be solved by rational thinking concerning the probabilities. This mistake of leaving the Jews out of the picture is often repeated both by those who believe in God and by those who do not.

For He is God of Israel and not just some anonymous Superior Being somewhere up there.

And He is King of the Jews, the Messiah, not just some abstract religious character


Marquis d'Argens

“Can you give me one single irrefutable proof of God?” “Yes, your Majesty, the Jews.”

Marquis d'Argens to Frederick the Great, 1779.

Frederick the Great (1712-1782)

This mighty quote by Philip N. Moore really makes one think the relationship between faith in God and the Jewish people. The question and answer are also mentioned in The Bible exposition commentary by Warren W. Wiersbe.

But did such a discussion ever happen?

For one, the date 1779 is eight years after the death of de Boyer which is suspicious.

Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens, (1704-1771) served for many years the king of Prussia, Frederick the Great (1712-1782). Such a discussion is not at all impossible since king Frederick had Jean-Baptiste often to dine with him and they seem to have been dear friends. Prince Frederick was himself an atheist strongly influenced by Voltaire. Jean-Baptiste was also a philosopher of the Enlightenment and very interested in history and religion. Of particular interest in this context are his Lettres juives (The Hague, 6 vols, 1738-1742). He was a friend of the famous Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) and apparently knew Judaism quite well. (Jews have a nice saying about Mendelssohn "there is no greater between Moses and Moses than Moses".)

The reference might be to the book: Zabuesnig, Johann Christoph: Johann Baptist von Boyer, Marquis von Argens, in: Historische und kritische Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Schriften des Herrn von Voltaire und anderer Neuphilosophen unserer Zeiten. Zweyte, vermehrte und verbesserte Ausgabe. Zweyter Band. Augsburg: Gebrüder Veith, 1779.

but I have not been able to locate it there.

Frederick had invited Jean-Baptiste de Boyer to Potsdam. "He was appointed to "Kammerherr" and Director of the Academy. However, Frederick was bitterly offended by his marrying a Berlin actress, Mlle Cochois. Argens returned to France in 1769, and died near Toulon on the 11th of January 1771." (quote)

Marquis d'Argens (1704-1771)

Disinherited by his father and thrown out from court by Frederick the Great. Something was clearly wrong in the choices d'Argens made during his life.

A prolific writer who nevertheless is not in the league of the great philosophers of his time Jean-Baptiste de Boyer is mainly remembered from the one word answer he gave to the question made by Frederick the Great.

Karl Barth
Karl Barth (1886-1968) is one of the greatest giants of 20th century Theology and his thinking is very influential in modern Christianity. A theologian of the Word of God he is well known for his massive commentary on the Epistle to Romans - Der Römerbrief - in the form of its second edition 1922.

Young Karl Barth (1886-1968)

In total clash with Friedrich Schleiermacher's (1768-1834) horizontal view of human religiosity into which Christianity is intimately tied Karl Barth proclaimed with dialectical force that God is revealed on the cross of Jesus senkrecht von oben - vertically from up. The revelation is paradoxical and originates from a reality completely out of this world. God cannot be allied with human cultures, histories and civilizations as Schleiermacher had done in his important treatise Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (1799).

In other texts in this blog I have emphasized that resurrection of Christ is a unique point where science reaches its limits as it does at the moment of death - the Biblical message is that in Easter morning Christ rose from the death as the firstborn of the world that is coming, the world that waits us after death, after the apocalyptic death of earth and beyond the reach of natural sciences.

In my opinion Karl Barth is right and wrong in his point. The cross of Jesus in Golgotha is something totally unique and very different from what the Jewish people expected from their King. They rejected Him and still wait for someone else to come as promised through the prophets of Israel.

But the cross it is not only God's revelation senkrecht von oben. It is also waagrecht von hinten. Biblical revelation comes to us from back, from the dawn of history, through a very long history of the children of Abraham living in the ancient Near East. It is the story of Jewish people from the times of Abram to the Roman period. Both the Old Testament and New Testament are written by the Jews. Jesus and his apostles including Paul, were all Jewish.

Well - if we draw a straight vertical line and cross it with a straight horizontal line that is what we get - a cross.

Looking at earth from space
Let us look at our planet from Voyager II near Saturn. How did God the Creator of all this make himself manifest to the inhabitants of that tiny third rock from the Sun in the photo?

Planet earth photographed from a point near Saturn

The answer is surprising.

He began to talk with a single human being in the city of Ur of the Chaldeans. One evening he took him out and they gazed the stars together.

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Genesis 15:1-6 KJVA

Who was speaking with Abram?

The Word of God.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying

Salvation is of the Jews.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Democritus and Epicurus - a random world?

Democritus (460-370 B.C.) the laughing Philosopher

Democritus (460-370 B.C.) is in my opinion particularly important among the many brilliant philosophers of ancient Greek for modern man trying to understanding this universe.

Firstly, he presented the favourite mantra of modern people "everything happens by chance". Obviously, it is an important issue also to Theology as it denies the existence of God. Democritus has been called the first materialistic atheist in western history. Nevertheless, he was a happy and balanced man to the point that he was called by others the laughing Philosopher.

Democritus presented the idea in his amazing nature philosophy that everything is made up of invisible particles, atoms, that cannot be further divided. These are constantly moving and colliding in totally random manner in the empty space (keenos) and their collisions create different kinds of groups that give all matter its attributes such as colour, hardness, taste or weight.

When Albert Einstein said in the 1920'ies that God does not play dice he was essentially protesting against the developing notion that that everything in nature is essentially randomized on the particle level and that quantum mechanics with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle has destroyed all causality and determinism at the deepest foundations of physical existence.

Secondly, Democritus is very important for the simple reason that he was thinking it all.

This philosopher is a truly classic example of the power of human mind and its fabulous ability to figure out things visible and invisible, invent, innovate, create and destroy, love and hate. It is obvious to all of us today that Democritus did not have any empirical instruments to study atoms. He was just thinking about them.

It is first and foremost human thinking that has revolutionized Physics in our times. Of course, Einstein had empirical evidence from the many experiments in electromagnetism by many 19th century scientists. But his theories of special and general relativity were nevertheless thinking trips he made in his mind. Throw in some mathematics. Some of his thoughts were empirically tested during his life time and others have been tested only later when the necessary technology has became available. Like Democritus, Einstein was essentially thinking how things are. When the theory was beautiful that was it. Experiments for and against his ideas came only later.

Epicurus (341 - 270 B.C.)

Epicurus (341 - 270 B.C.) took very seriously what Democritus was teaching about the pure chance at the foundations of all that exists. If everything is just random movement of material particles so nothing really matters. Nothing has any real purpose and life and death are just plain game of dice. So what should we do? Let us be happy! Let us eat and drink for we shall die tomorrow.

This philosopher established a Garden school in Athens that became quite famous and people from near and far came there. Since everything is just colliding atoms there is no need for social hierarchies. Women and slaves were as much humans as the free men of Athens and were allowed to join in. The ethics in the Garden school may have resembled modern day ethics in the big cities. For if nothing matters but happiness let us really be happy as Richard Dawkin and friends are telling us.

I believe that unconsciously a number of modern men and women have adopted similar ideas as Epicurus was teaching in ancient Greece. Since we are just a random product of natural selection in the tree of life nothing really means anything. Let us be happy, let us try to make the best of this short life given to us before our atoms mingle with the atoms of the universe and perhaps become future building stones in a bee or a crocodile or a tree or some other human being. Round, round, round they go, those atoms and life forms fighting for survival after some lucky mutation caused by random radiation from the space.

By the way, apostle Paul agreed in principle with the logic of Epicurus:

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
1 Corinthians 15:32 KJVA

He argues that if Christ has not risen from the death why bother martyrdom?

The same question of resurrection had also earned him many hearty laughs in Athens

Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
Act 17:18 KJVA

Now, we have to realize the great intellectual power of Democritus and Epicurus, the strength of their amazing brains, the deep logic and the imagination that established the existence of atoms over two thousand years ago just in the mind.

Yet, both these philosophers were wrong.

Modern nuclear physics have demonstrated that there is nothing randomly about the atoms. They are masterpieces of harmonic order and design so admired by ancient Greeks. We only need to study the atomic tables of basic matter to realize this and the deeper we get into the atoms the more amazing is the order we see there.

And since atoms and molecules are not random at all the application of this chance principle to life by Epicurus was also built upon faulty foundations.

So is the life of many modern man and woman who still erroneously think that evolution is guided by random mutations and environmental factors and fail to realize the wonderful order that exists in the location of each and every amino acid in those marvellous DNA molecules.

Or perhaps they refuse to realize it because accepting the fact that God has created man and woman brings with it serious consequences. The fallacy of a dice throwing God or blind faith in atheistic materialism are convenient for us exactly because they let people to imagine that they have turned into something like God by themselves - the familiar song of the Devil from the Garden of Eden, the spirit of Prometheus.

Light and the origins of Quantum Mechanics

CERN LCH 2008 in Switzerland

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5 KJVA

והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשׁך על־פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על־פני המים
Gen 1:2 describes the initial state as an earth without form and shape (Hebrew tohu vebohu) and primordial waters of tehom over which the Spirit of God moves. The Hebrew verb used here for the movement, rachaph, indicates relaxed movement, like a bird could be easily fluttering over the deep.

"Let there be light!"

The first Word of Creation.

Light is the first thing that has been created.

I challenge you to study all the known religions in the world that are not based on Biblical revelation. Ancient and new. You will not find a parallel to this in any other religion. Only Bible tells about a personal God who says at the beginning let there be light. Then comes the rest of the short creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:3.

There is much pondering about light because it is an essential element in religion and considered the good and godly thing. There is much evidence about worship of the Sun, for example Sol invictus was the favourite god of emperor Constantine the Great and we have the oratorio of emperor Julian the Apostate to this Roman god. We have the fascinating hymn by Pharaoh Akhenaten praising his only god, the Sun on Egyptian sky. We know about Sun worship by the Inca in Peru and so on. There are important philosophical thinkers and students of nature who try to figure out what is light.

Pharao Akhenaten (died 1336 B.C.)
Worshipped only one god, the Sun, Aten

I challenge you to find anywhere out there this message in the beginning of the Bible that the first thing personal God created was light. Even before Sun and Moon were made on the sky above us to give us light day and night and to help us to follow the passing of time.

It is very important for modern day Jew, Christian or Moslem who believes in the God of Israel to realize the significance of light to the most fundamental scientific study of the nature. Light simply penetrates to the deepest secrets of modern Physics, Chemistry and its understanding requires very high knowledge of Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, Nuclear Physics and other sciences. And still there are many questions left.

The study of what is light has led to the Big Bang of modern scientific view of the world and is a most interesting and important field of research one can imagine, reaching from the tiniest particles in the atoms to the birth of millions of galaxies in the space.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

The wheels were set in faster motion in 19th century Scotland where James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was able to put together all what was known at that time about electricity, magnetism with optics! In other words, he noticed that also light is some type of electro-magnetism. Maxwell's Laws is fundamental theory of electromagnetism that could be tested experimentally. His work in electromagnetism has been called the "second great unification in physics", after the first one carried out by Isaac Newton. (By the way, Maxwell studied optics and took the first known colour photograph in 1861.)

By stating that light is electromagnetic radiation J.C. Maxwell opened the door to other scholars to start to explore this direction but the questions were quite thorny. Light is not a simple matter.

Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx Planck (1858 - 1947) was born in Kiel, Germany. Both his grand father and his grand-grand fathers had been professors of Theology in Göttingen University. His father was professor of Law in Kiel and Munich Universities. Already as a 10 year old boy he dropped the r from his first name and is today known around the world simply as Max Planck.

The fundamental idea this genius of Physics was the realization that any energy is radiated in packages he called quantum by the Latin word for "how great" or "how much". To be more specific, his quantum hypothesis states

Any energy is radiated and absorbed in quantities divisible by discrete ‘energy elements’, E, such that each of these energy elements is proportional to the frequency ν with which they each individually radiate energy, as defined by the following formula:
 E = h \nu = \hbar \omega\,
where h is Planck's Action Constant.

Max Planck photographed in 1901

This picture tells us more than thousand words! Formulating and validating the quantum hypothesis was not a picnic even to someone with the brainpower of Max Planck.

Light is not a simple thing.

Well. It took another genius to put one plus one.

Planck was himself thinking that he had just described attributes in the processes of absorbing and emission why shining light can eject electrons from certain materials but has nothing to do with light itself.
A German-Jewish worker in a patent office in Bern, Switzerland
photographed 1904 just before his Annus Mirabilis 1905

After some pretty heavy thinking Einstein said in 1905 that not only so. On the basis of Planck's quantum hypothesis Albert postulated that

light itself consists of individual quanta

Light is a particle. This idea is of such fundamental importance to everything we know about space and earth and atoms and galaxies that I give you the exact reference of this milestone in history of natural sciences

A. Einstein, Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt (On a heuristic point of view concerning the production and transformation of light), Annalen der Physik 17 (1905) 132-148.

That was some spark of light!

This article is one in the series of papers on Physics Albert Einstein wrote in 1905 and later humanity has learned to respect this time as the Annus Mirabilis - the miraculous year.


So thanks to the work of so many people which culminated in J.C. Maxwell's understanding of also light as a form of electromagnetic radiation and the breakthrough concept of quantum presented by Max Planck and the spark of genius by Albert Einstein in 1905 it was understood by us humans that light is not just a wave but also a particle that has a measurable energy, a photon.

Wave-particle duality is an important aspect of light and other electromagnetic radiation and is one of the things that led to the modern science of quantum mechanics. It is one of the most fundamental fields of research in modern Physics and Chemistry with enormous impact on our understanding of God's creation.

But there was a teeny weeny little problem.

On one hand, Albert explained gravity in his general theory of relativity in such a way that it still puts people to gasp for air. On the other hand, he moved Planck's quantum hypothesis forward in such a way that it developed into a red hot new branch of scientific research called Quantum Physics.

The tiny problem is that the two theories do not fit so well together, relativity and quantum mechanics.

What can we do? Light, the first thing created by God, is not a simple thing.

Stephen Hawking with his daughter Lucy

Some of the most gifted modern students of Physics and Cosmology, like the famous Stephen Hawking, are busily looking for a great unification theory that would put the general theory of relativity and quantum physics nicely into a single theory that explains it all.

Scientists at work in Fermilab, USA

Well. They keep trying and build enormous particle accelerators to find that God's particle, Higgins particle, like now is going on in LHC 2008 at CERN in Switzerland and in the huge accelerator running in the Fermi lab in USA.

Join the group of scholars!

Find out about light and formulate a theory for gravity. Nobel price of Physics is surely yours if you succeed.

In a very interesting way the exploration of the biggest things in cosmology and astronomy has approached the study of the smallest things, particles and strings.

As Georges Lemaître said it: in the beginning there was a cosmic atom.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Synchrotron - useful light

Home of the huge Synchrotron Radiation Source
in Daresbury, Cheshire

This text is simply a reference to a BBC Science and Nature article that describes the synchrotron built in 2008 in Daresbury, Cheshire, to produce light that is 100 billion times brighter than X-ray.

Click here to read the informative news article in the BBC web site.

At £300m the Diamond Light Source is the largest investment on science made in the United Kingdom in the past 30 years.

Working with the Diamond Light Synchrotron

Light is indeed a fascinating thing.

Not simple at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Truth Trip

Chicago O'Hare airport early in the morning.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, readers of this blog, welcome to the Truth Trip!

Captain Kirk and his crew welcome you to spaceship Enterprise. We are ready to take off. Please, fasten your seatbelts, lift the table in front of you to upright position and switch off your mobile phones and other electronic devices. "

The polite passenger sitting beside me does as told and wishes me a good trip. I do the same while looking through the window at the airplanes ready to take off. People busily going to their travel destinations some for business, others to meet their family, some beginning their vacation this morning. The engines of Enterprise start humming and softly we start to fly towards the cloudy sky. After some time the bell says that we are allowed to open the seatbelts and the crew is already preparing a breakfast to us.

The stewardess has a nice soft voice and she tells us "our spaceship can reach near the speed of light so at full speed we would reach the moon in a second. However, we will fly very slowly first to let you enjoy the view of planet Earth from above the atmosphere and we will make two rounds around the moon so that you can enjoy the magnificent sceneries there."

Planet Earth from space

Oh how beautiful our planet looks from the space! We are all gasping at the sight and aim our digital cameras trying to capture the sight while sipping our coffee and tea. The engines of Enterprise are humming more strongly now and from time to time they shake the ship when slowly accelerating.

We do the two rounds around moon without incidents and continue our trip past the red Mars where NASA robots are still exploring the soil and looking for signs of water. We pass the orbit of mighty Jupiter being careful not to get too near and have soon passed the 1.400.000.000 km distance to Saturn. Again we admire the fine rings shining like jewels in morning sun. I ask for some more coffee.

Planet earth photographed from a point near Saturn

The passenger sitting beside me seems to know things. "Can you see that little dot there through the window?" he asks me. That is our planet, Earth. After a while of trying I notice it thinking what a miserable little rock, third from Sun, it seems from out here. I shake his hand only now and introduce myself "Sir, my name is Mikko. Nice to meet you". He shakes my hand politely without saying a word, which is a bit strange.

"I am a Christian and this view makes me to wonder" I continue. "Is Jesus Christ just the Saviour of the human race living on that insignificant dot amidst this ocean of space and billions of suns? A very local fellow?"

My friend is quiet for a while and answers then "Yes. Well, I would not call humanity an insignificant race, each individual living there has a name and is known to our Father by name. But yes, we can say that the address is

"Jesus Christ
Planet Earth
3rd rock from Sun
Milkyway Galaxy"

for there is the earthly body of Christ, it is the congregation made of Christians like you. Of course, there is also the invisible congregation of people who have already died but that is a bit mysterious."

I say to him "well, according to what you say, and I believe it is Biblical truth, Christ is travelling in this spaceship in the hearts of His own. Also, we have these Bibles with us, the Word of God, so He is here with us." My friend nods silently, looking thoughtfully at that tiny dot which soon disappears.

Artist's view of Kuiper belt
The loudspeakers wake up as we are told "Please, fasten your seatbelts, we are going to pass the Kuiper belt and our crew may have to do some sudden moves to avoid the asteroids." We all obey after we see through the window what is ahead of us.

After some bumpy road the spaceship returns to normal flight and we relax on our seats. The tour guide explains "We are now accelerating up to the maximum speed of spaceship Enterprise, which is near the speed of light. Our next destination will be alfa Centaur, the very nearest star next to our Sun. This part of the trip will take four and half years so, please, feel free to use all the facilities we have arranged for your comfort and enjoyment during the trip.

Artist's view of alpha Centaur, the nearest star to our Sun

And so we see from near another sun with our own eyes. It does not have planets of its own and we steer far enough not to get too deep into its gravity field. To be honest, a star is a star and after over four years of space travel the impact of this star on us is not all that strong. We have got used to them. Some iglu-effect is taking toll on our mutual relationships, as can be expected.

Our Milky Way galaxy might look a bit like this from outer space
Sun would be in one of the spiral wings

The loudspeakers are alive again and tell us

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are now moving out to the last leg of our trip to visit the outskirts of our nearest galaxy, Andromeda. From there we will turn back and return home. Our trip to Andromeda will last about three million years so we will be back in Chicago O'Hara after six million years".

Andromeda, our nearest galaxy neighbour in the Local Group
You can see it with your binoculars
I turn towards my friend to tell him that isn't the current scientific view of evolution of human race saying that starting from our earliest known ancestors in Africa we have existed only five million years. But he had gone somewhere. Surely, there would be a chance to ask him later.

I knew that when we reach back to Chicago earth time would have passed six million years. Perhaps my friend could tell me, how old we would be while travelling for six million years near the speed of light.

Einstein had said something in his theory of relativity about the relationship between matter, space, movement and time but I cannot quite figure out the mathematics.

Can you?

Enterprise on the trip to outer space


It was pretty lonely up there.

Maybe my Jewish friend from New York whom I had learned to know on board noticed that I was a bit upset and he came to me and simply told me to read Psalm 139.

So I said a little prayer in my heart and opened my Bible.

And yes, that psalm definitely made me feel much less lonely.

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139 KJVA

.... UPDATE July 2 2012
You can easily make this trip using Celestia software and see an exceptional 3D model of Andromeda M31. But dping so may give you may give you a somewhat wrapped impression about the time it takes to get there!