Before astronomer Edwin Hubble’s 1929 bombshell proof that the universe was expanding, its fixed relationships were unquestioned. Even Einstein resisted the notion of an expanding universe despite the fact his equations clearly predicted it. He once famously said to the Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter, “the math is right, but your physics must be wrong”. Years later even Einstein had to admit both the math and physics were correct, calling the expanding universe one of the most beautiful ideas of all times.
It was hard enough for those early pioneers to accept the idea of an expanding universe because it implied our universe had a beginning, something few wanted to contemplate. Worse, was what was next to come.
Just as a baseball thrown eventually slows, so too must the expanding universe—at least that’s what they assumed. That constant was shattered when, in 1998, the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-Z Supernova Search Team independently came to the opposite conclusion. The universe’s expansion is accelerating.
What’s attractive to me is the joy these scientists find in the unexpected. In every case, these engineering minded people were determinedly heading down one path only to find themselves deep within the unknown.
We experience the same unexpected joys in our own small world when we apply one set of knowns to a circuit and hear something totally unexpected: when our measuring equipment says one thing and our ears tell us a different story. That’s when the wonder of the unknown warms our hearts and souls.
It’s the unexpected pleasures in life that bring us the greatest joy.