It is so easy to focus on our own little planet, or our own little space, but the reality is that outside of our atmosphere, there is a huge space that makes us look like a speck of dust…if that. In centuries past, people could see the sun and the stars, and I suppose they considered the fact that there might be something else out there, but since they really had no way of viewing it better than using the naked eye, they just thought that it was what it was…somewhat like a curtain with holes poked into it, and they really didn’t ever expect to see anything more. Still, somewhere along the way, someone thought it might be possible to see further into the sky that just the few stars that were visible. Inventions came about to aid the people in seeing into the great beyond.
One man who had a vision to be able to see what was out there, was Edwin Hubble. Edwin wanted to learn about space from the time he was a young boy. He said, “I knew that even if I were second or third rate, it was astronomy that mattered.” He knew that he simply couldn’t do anything else. That kind of determination makes a person great, and he was determined. Hubble’s work was something his father didn’t understand, and didn’t want him to do, in fact making him promise to be a lawyer. Hubble tried, but his heart just wasn’t in it. He also worked as a teacher of Spanish, Physics, Mathematics, and coached basketball. His popularity as a teacher is recorded in the school yearbook dedicated to him: “To our beloved teacher of Spanish and Physics, who has been a loyal friend to us in our senior year, ever willing to cheer and help us both in school and on the field, we, the class of 1914, lovingly dedicate this book.”
While Edwin Hubble’s father may have thought his son had made a terrible mistake, and that he was even one can short of a six-pack, Edwin Hubble knew that there was more to see out there, and he simply couldn’t sit idly by and miss God’s big show. In October 1923 he spotted what he first thought was a nova star flaring up dramatically in the M31 “nebula” in the constellation of Andromeda. After careful examination of photographic plates of the same area taken previously by other astronomers, including his greatest scientific rival, Harlow Shapley, who thought that the Milky Way was the end of the universe, he realized that it was a Cepheid star. On December 29, 1924, all of his hard work came to fruition, when he made another startling find…all galaxies seemed to be receding from us with velocities that increased in proportion to their distance from us…a relationship now known as Hubble’s Law. On this day, December 30, 1924, Edward Hubble was finally able to make the announcement that would make his a household name…that the universe was not static, but ever expanding and that there were many other galaxies out there.
Fifteen years ago today, Americans were greeted with horror, as terrorism split the atmosphere of safety we had long enjoyed around our nation. I think most Americans had become comfortable, and even complacent about national security. Life was going along at almost a lazy Sunday afternoon pace. We were like small town kids, who thought that nothing ever happens in our town. How very wrong we were. Our world was about to be turned upside down.
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, I think most people thought it was a tragic accident. We simply couldn’t fathom the idea that a terrorist would be so horribly cruel as to hijack a plane full of innocent people and fly it straight into a building full of more innocent people. And yet, to our horror, that is exactly what these terrorists did. They operated the planes with no mercy and no feelings. They did not care about the lives they were taking or even about their own lives…in fact, they thought they were heroes for their actions, and that there would be great rewards in Heaven for them. Their complete shock as they entered Hell, must have been devastating.
Their actions left our nation is shock and disbelief. We watch as the devastation unfolded before us, growing worse by the moment, our hearts and minds were assaulted, yet we could not look away. We watched, hoping that the people on the top floors could be saved…even after they began to fall or jump from the building, because the heat was more than they could take. We felt sick with each and every thud. We prayed over the rescuers, that they would be successful in getting people out, and that they would come out too. We watched in stunned disbelief as the towers fell, praying that after the first tower fell, that somehow, the second would remain standing…until it also fell. We became angry at the people who had done this, without provocation. Pure hate, of our beliefs, our prosperity, and our liberties, and that drove them to attack us.
As the day went on, we watched in horror as more information came out. We knew that there were going to be many people died, but still we watched as they dug through the rubble. We thought there would suddenly be people found alive in that rubble. As time went on, we knew that there wouldn’t be huge numbers of survivors. In the end, only twelve people were found alive after the towers fell. After a couple of days, we knew there would be no more, still we could not look away. We had to watch…had to know. As each lost one was found…we cried right along with their families. Then came the worst horror of all…finding out that some people would never be found. The fires had been so hot that their bodies were cremated. That added more horror to our thoughts. It was something we just couldn’t fathom, just like we could not fathom that 15 years later, that day would still be as vivid in our memories as it was on the day we were attacked.