What Are You Studying? Oh, Just the Origin of the Universe

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What if you could build a telescope so big it could help you look at how the universe began? It may sound like a question dreamed up by a astronomy-obsessed stoner, but it is also a real thing being worked on by real astrophysicists at Johns Hopkins.

“When we look at the sun, we see light that has been traveling to us for eight minutes, so we’re not seeing what happened now, but eight minutes ago,” Hopkins astrophysicist Charles Bennett told the Hopkins Hub. “When we look at Proxima Centauri, the next nearest star, we’re seeing what it was like four years ago. It’s a time machine. But this is the magic that lets us know things. We don’t have to guess what the universe was like in its earliest existence. We can actually see it.”

This involves building a giant telescope, setting it up in the desert of northern Chile, building three more giant telescopes, and analyzing the evidence they find about how what they call “our visible universe” came to exist. All together now: woaaaaaaah.

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