Revolution in Astronomy Shows God’s Handiwork

Revolution in Astronomy Shows God's Handiwork

Before the introduction of electric lights, the darkness of the night allowed people to observe the sky much more clearly. For thousands of years, people looked up at night and marveled at what they saw. Of course, they saw the Moon and stars, but they could also see other objects. Those included the “wandering stars,” which we know as planets, “shooting stars,” which we know as meteors, and occasional stars with tails, known as comets. But understanding the night sky was limited by the resolving power of human vision. Then something happened to create a revolution in astronomy.

The revolution began in 1609 when Galileo put some lenses together and made his first telescope. Still, it was limited to observing visible light. People assumed that the only light was what they could see with their eyes. After all, what other kind of light could there be? Then, in 1800, British astronomer William Herschel accidentally discovered infrared light. After that, scientists discovered ultraviolet, radio waves, microwaves, X-rays, and gamma rays in the following years.

Astronomers today use all of those forms of electromagnetic radiation or “light” to explore the universe. You might wonder why we can see only a tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. There is a good reason for that. Electromagnetic radiation surrounds us. That includes natural radiation and all frequencies transmitted from radio, television, mobile phones, wi-fi, Bluetooth, and other sources. If we could see all of those electromagnetic frequencies, our vision would be more limited than what we experience in a dense fog.

In God’s wisdom, He limited our vision to the rainbow of colors we need to see the world. However, science has given us the ability to “see” the other frequencies of light, and that has opened up a new revolution in astronomy.

Radio waves were the first portion of the invisible spectrum astronomers used. In 1933, Karl Jansky, a young American radio engineer working for Bell Labs, was searching for the source of “hiss” that interfered with radio transmissions. He found that some of it came from sources outside our solar system. That led to using radio telescopes to explore the vast reaches of space through the new science of radio astronomy.

Microwaves are the next frequencies above radio waves, and astronomers first detected them using radio telescopes. When we hear the word “microwave,” we think of a way to cook our meals quickly, but in astronomy, microwaves help us learn about the early universe. In 1965, American astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, working for Bell Labs, were trying to find the cause of noise picked up by a radiometer they were using. They thought it was a defect in the system, but they had accidentally discovered what scientists call cosmic background radiation. It’s energy left over from the cosmic creation event, or the “big bang.” The cosmic microwave background proved that the universe had a beginning, as the Bible clearly says in verse 1.

Sometimes “accidental” discoveries lead to our learning more about how God created and sustains the universe. The revolution in astronomy today involves all of the various portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, and we will continue to consider that tomorrow.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

X-Ray Vision and X-Ray Destruction

X-Ray Vision and X-Ray Destruction

The fictional character Superman is supposed to have x-ray vision. That super-ability to see through objects is shown in the comics and movies as something coming out from his eyes. As everyone knows, vision doesn’t come out from our eyes. We see because of the light coming into our eyes.

X-rays are electromagnetic radiation similar to visible light, but at a higher energy level and shorter wavelength. Then why can’t we see x-rays? For one thing, our eyes use a lens to focus light on the retina. X-rays can’t be focused by the lens in our eyes, or even by glass lenses. X-rays are focused by using metal tubes to guide the rays because metal is one thing X-rays can’t penetrate.

However, x-rays can penetrate flesh and destroy the molecules by tearing them apart. Even if the lenses of our eyes could focus x-rays on the retina, the x-rays would destroy the retina. Medical and dental x-rays use low doses for short durations, so they don’t pose a health risk. Your body can easily repair the slight damage that occurs.

Another reason we can’t see x-rays is that we are not normally exposed to them, and that’s good news. On Earth, radioactive minerals and radon gas emit x-rays in small amounts. From space, the Sun, other stars, and black holes emit x-rays, but we are protected by our atmosphere. X-rays from space arrive at the upper part of our atmosphere called the ionosphere, where they are absorbed. If all of the x-rays reached Earth’s surface, they would destroy living things and eventually sterilize the planet. The ionosphere makes life on Earth possible.

We don’t think this is just another coincidence. We believe it’s part of the divine design of this planet. X-ray vision is only for comic-book characters and movies.

— Roland Earnst © 2020